What Kind of Car Wash Is Right for You?
A car wash can keep your vehicle looking clean, and regular washings can also help maintain its finish, says Consumer Reports. But how do you decide what type of car wash to use?
If you’re unable or uninterested in washing your car at home, you may have options when it comes to choosing a car wash facility. Here’s a look at some of the features commonly found at different types of car washes.
Self-Service Car Wash
If you like to wash your car by hand but can’t do so at home or like to take advantage of professional tools and supplies, a self-service car wash may be a good option.
At a self-service car wash, you typically pay a fee to use the facility’s water and brushes to clean your own car. Some places provide towels for drying the vehicle, but you can also choose to bring your own.
To help your car look its best, try to avoid washing it after it’s been running for a while or parked in direct sunlight, Consumer Reports suggests. That’s because the heat from your car may cause soap and water to quickly dry and result in spots. Washing and rinsing one section at a time may also help prevent soap from drying on your car.
Hand Car Wash Service
If you want the attention to detail only a human being can provide, but you don’t want to do it yourself, a hand-wash service may be the right choice for you.
A hand wash car service provides employees who wash your car with soap and water by hand. Next, the vehicle is rinsed before it’s dried with towels. Some facilities also offer interior vacuuming and detailing, Angie’s List says.
Automatic Car Wash
An automatic car wash may be a good choice if you want your vehicle cleaned in just minutes. This type of car wash typically uses a conveyor system to take your car through a machine-run cleaning and drying process. Traditional washes use brushes to remove dirt and grime, while some facilities feature touch-free methods that clean cars using only soap, water and air. Touch-free car washes may be safer, Autoblog.com says, because there’s less risk of cosmetic damage to your car when brushes aren’t used.
Automatic car washes often offer options at a range of prices, which may include upgrades such as undercarriage cleaning, tire and wheel cleaning and spray-on wax.
Keep an eye out for any warning signs posted at the car wash entrance — they often suggest removing exterior items, such as antennae, to help avoid damage. If you have a pickup truck with an exposed bed, make sure the bed is empty before entering the car wash.
Some automatic washes have employees who towel-dry the cars. Angie’s List suggests that you consider letting your car air dry instead, to help avoid potential scratches from towels that have been used on multiple vehicles.
If you’re still not sure what type of car wash is right for you, consider asking your mechanic or neighbors for suggestions. You can also check the Better Business Bureau’s rating of local car wash facilities.
Regular car washes may help prevent rust and corrosion, Angie’s List says. Once you’ve chosen the type of car wash that fits your needs, you can hit the road knowing that you’ve taken steps to help protect your vehicle and make it look its best.
Originally published on June 10, 2014.