are automatic car washes bad for your car

PSA: Automatic Car Washes Are Bad For Your Car! Avoid The Damage With These Tips

Are automatic car washes bad for your car? Automatic car washes, as much as they are convenient, are definitely not your friend. Read on to find out why.

If you own a car, it’s absolutely natural to ask yourself what you can do to protect and preserve it in the long run. 

How to show it the care it deserves? How to maintain the shine of the paintwork? How to protect its surface from scratches and swirl marks? 

Today, I’m here to show you how to wash your car safely, without worrying that one scrub with the wrong brush could leave it scratched in places you've never thought of.

So if you want to learn more about the ins and outs of car washing and what you need to do to get your car shining like new, just keep reading.

How To Take Care Of Your Car

As far as vehicle maintenance goes, many car owners try to navigate their way among different car care procedures, not really knowing which one to stick with, for lack of proper information.

If this is you, you might think there’s no big difference between washing a car by hand and taking it to an automatic car wash. You’ve probably been caught at the crossroads between convenience and quality. Or maybe you strongly believe that an automatic car wash is innocuous if only used every now and then.

But when it comes to the pressing question are automatic car washes bad for your car?”, the short answer is that, by choosing this form of cleaning, you're not only doing your car a disservice in terms of cleanliness, you're also damaging its finish.

A Quick Look Into Automatic Car Washes

Before looking into automatic car wash damage, let’s talk about what makes automatic washes so appealing in the first place.

In case you are not living a remote lifestyle, far away from civilization, chances are you’ve probably used an automatic car wash before. If you haven’t though, don’t start now! 

Either way, there are a few things you should know. 

Automatic car washes have been around for a few decades, and today you can find them basically everywhere. The expense of using one is equal to what you would pay for a cappuccino, not to mention that they are also extremely fast. With this being said, it is easy to see why so many people choose automatic over hand washing their cars.

However, the question many professionals often get asked is: “Are automatic car washes bad for your car?

Automatic car washes are terrible for your vehicle’s finish and are a major cause of paintwork damage. But being so cheap and quick, they are a convenient option for anyone looking to clean their car without hassle.

In today’s busy world, the idea of having your car washed while you answer an email or chat with a friend is more than attractive. On top of it, the price you pay for it is next to nothing. But, is it worth it?

The Hidden Dangers Of Automatic Car Washes

Although convenient, as hinted above, automatic car washes pose a series of hidden threats that are much more damaging than you’d think. 

Poor Maintenance

First off, the brushes used in automatic car washes aren’t properly maintained, and the wear and tear they suffer will be transferred to your vehicle's paint. Not to mention, all of that dirt and debris that those brushes pick up from other cars gets slammed and ground right into yours. Allowing your vehicle to be washed with these abrasive brushes is like using a dirty mop all over your car’s surface. 

Don’t get me wrong, taking your car to the automatic car wash one time doesn’t mean you’ll get it back full of swirl marks and scratches. But you can expect this to happen if you continue to use this cleaning method on a regular basis.

Over the years, I've noticed that inexperienced car owners care very little about the brushes used in automatic car washes. 

This is because most of the damage is not immediately visible. 

But whenever you feel a bit lazy to give your car a good old hand wash, just remember that when taking the automatic wash shortcut regularly, you’re bound to see deep micro-scratches showing at one point or the other. 

Little Control Over Cleaning Products

Second, you also have very little control over the cleaning products automatic car wash usually uses. Technically, they should be safe and efficient. They should also be market-approved. Practically speaking, you never know what the car wash uses to make your car clean. There’s a chance the detergents contain aggressive acids that can further damage the car’s finish.

Can Wreak Havoc on Your Car’s Clear Coat

Let’s not also forget about the clear coat. If there’s too much invasive interference with the paint finish, the damage builds up onto the transparent layer until the seal is broken. If the clear coat is broken there will be nothing else to protect the actual paint anymore. 

But since I’m sure some of you may still be wonderingare automatic car washes bad for your car?”, here’s some more food for thought.

Are Touchless Car Washes Safe?

Many of you might think that since automatic car washes are bad for your car, touchless ones are a safer choice. Well, not so fast!

Unlike automatic car washes, touchless car washes use automated robots to wash your car, scrub hardened grime or bird droppings, and apply all the necessary cleaning agents. As soon as the washing part is done, a special treatment of your choice will be applied — such as wax or tire foam.

A touchless wash might seem a safer option compared to an automatic car wash, simply because there’s no harmful contact with the brushes. However, touchless car washes use high pressure and strong detergents for cleaning that may affect the paint and the exterior look of the car. 

Not to mention that the drying may most definitely not be complete, so you can expect water spots to show. 

How To Avoid Automatic Car Wash Damage?

Ceramic Coating

As you might have probably realized by now, most types of automatic car washes, be it in-bay automatic, tunnel, or touchless, are pretty damaging. But if you don’t want to avoid them entirely, there’s one thing you can do to keep your car protected while using them. And that’s applying a ceramic coating.

Ceramic coating is much more than a fancy term flung around in the auto industry. It’s a powerful car care procedure that leaves the paintwork shiny and protected for a long time. It essentially acts like a second clearcoat. You can have it applied by a professional, or you can do the maneuver yourself using a DIY product such as Nexgen Ceramic Spray.

The Process Of Ceramic Coating

Spray Nexgen Ceramic Spray in small sections so you can approach the coating process efficiently. Keep more microfiber towels in hand to avoid oversaturation. Also, make sure you don’t allow for more than 3-4 minutes curing time for each section. Otherwise, your car will be filled with darker spots.

Wipe the excess product out using microfiber towels. Follow the body lines of the car when you do this, and avoid using circular motions. Just make sure you don’t over saturate the car's surface — and that you are thorough all throughout.

You’ll end up with a showroom-shiny car that’s well protected against elements, contaminants, and automatic car wash damage. 

Are automatic car washes bad for your car? They are, but they can be less harmful when you have the right protection.

And if you wonder what makes Nexgen Ceramic Spray a better choice than other similar products on the market, you need to learn a thing or two about SiO2.

SiO2 is the chemical formula of silicon dioxide, most commonly found in nature as quartz. Also known as silicon dioxide or silica, SiO2 is water-repellent, tough, and self-healing.

nexgen ceramic spray 13% SiO2

Among DIY ceramic coatings, Nexgen uses the highest concentration of SiO2 (13% to be exact), which drastically reduces the ability of contaminants to streak, scratch, and degrade your clear coat and vehicle paint.

Hand Washing

If automatic car washes are so bad for your car, the next logical thing to do is wash your vehicle by hand.

I know that this is easier said than done since most of us complain about lack of time. But, as with most things, once you have the knowledge and equipment, everything else falls into place. 

man washing car by hand to avoid automated car wash damage

What You Need

Start by rinsing the car with a hose or pressure washer to remove excessive amounts of dirt and grime. Next, fill both buckets with water and add Nexgen Ceramic Soap to one of them. The second bucket (without added soap) will be used to trap loose dirt and allow you to rinse your wash mitt thoroughly before you put it back in the soapy water.

nexgen ceramic soap

Work from the top of the vehicle down to avoid kicking up any dirt, and knock off the job in sections. For any stubborn contaminants left behind, you can use Nexgen Bug And Tar Remover.

To avoid water spots, dry the car right away using a soft, highly absorbent drying cloth. 

Continue by applying Nexgen Glass Cleaner to your vehicle’s windows and mirrors for optimal optical clarity, to reduce static cling, and to keep windows cleaner longer. It works on glass, mirrors, screens, or lenses and offers professional-grade results anyone can achieve.

nexgen wheel and engine cleaner

And since no washing session is complete without some extra care for the wheels, use Nexgen Wheel and Engine Cleaner to break down even the toughest grease. This product outperforms most acidic style cleaners, solvent degreasers, and other water-soluble degreasers, all without the use of harsh chemicals.

Finish with Nexgen Ceramic Spray and apply it yourself. In addition to keeping the car surfaces looking good, ceramic coatings will also help repel dust and grime and protect your vehicle’s paint from oxidation and UV rays.

Are Automatic Car Washes Worth It?

When it comes to are automatic car washes bad for your car?” you will always hear pros and cons. Many car owners might think of them as not entirely bad. They do the job quickly, not to mention they cost peanuts. However, the damage they can cause to your car’s paint is long-lasting, and costly to repair

As with anything else, it’s best to play the long game and think ahead. In all honesty, I advise you to steer clear of them. However, if you’re in a rush and have no other alternative but to pay a visit to your local automatic car wash once in a while, make sure you’ve protected your car with ceramic coating. 

Use your own best judgment when deciding whether automatic car washes are worth it and how many scratches you are willing to risk. If you want to best take care of your car's paint, it's best to wash your car yourself using the method and products listed above.

If you are ready to step up your car care game, make Nexgen your best ally! Browse our line of best-selling products, accessories, car detailing kits. If you have any other questions, or would like to find out more about Nexgen, simply get in touch. We will be happy to help.

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