Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Car washes can damage the paint of your car.
Types of car washes:
- Automatic car wash– These are a washing setup in the form of a tunnel. First, you pay for the service and you drive inside the washing tunnel. These are extremely popular in developed countries like the US. There people don’t have the time and they want convenience and hence this washing method was introduced.
It costs about $10 for an automatic car wash in the US which is roughly 770 inr. That is not cheap. You can get a better cleaning by a washing station in India for less.
Along with scratching cars, automatic car washes also have defamation for not washing the rear hood etc of a car properly. It remains dusty even after a wash and you will not be satisfied with the overall cleaning by an automatic car wash. So, it is wiser to avoid them.
- Manual wash– This is the technique where you use high pressure washers or just wash your car by spraying water from a piper connected to a tap. Here car washing shampoos are used for cleaning and sometimes people even use hair shampoo.
This is a safe washing process provided you wipe the car with a microfiber cloth and don’t rub the car with hard brushes while applying shampoo etc. that can cause scratches. Always use a microfiber towel.
- Waterless car wash- This is an advanced method of washing which minimizes the use of water and hence the name. You just pour the waterless car wash liquid on a microfiber towel and wipe the car with it. This is also a safe method and gives a protective coating and shine to your car. If we continue to waste water then soon we will not have much fresh water left for our future generation.
You can use waterless car wash even on your windows and glasses and they will get shiny and clear. It also saves the time of washing with water and you’re not gonna end up with dirty water all over your garden or garage.
For testing purposes, we researched with ceramic coating. We coated the front hood of a Tesla Model 3 with ceramic coating and went for a tunnel wash. Let the results speak up for themselves.
When you get a coating or the car is new then the sun reflects and it looks shiny but when it gets scratched or swirled or old then it refracts the sunlight and it looks dull.
This test is for expert eyes that is for people who care about their cars extremely and these minor scratches may not matter to most people. But it is our job to find out things for you and here we are. For a person who drives from A to B and not worry about scratches much then you are probably in the wrong blog.
Under torch light, we found multiple scratches just after one tunnel car wash also known as automatic car wash. The reason is simple- they use not so soft brushes to brush the car’s surface which leads to minor scratches.
Also, the dirt and debris particles from other cars are often stuck within the bristles of the brushes which get rubbed on your car’s body when you go for a wash.
If you inspect closely, you will see minor scratches just after one wash. Now imagine these minor scratches after every wash for 1 year? So, it is never advisable to go for an automatic car wash. Take out the time and wash your car yourself or get it done from a reputed car washing shop.
Tunnel washers which has rotating brushes
This is the most traditional form of automatic car washer and is the most maligned. Newer automatic washers which come described as gentler are much better and gives much less scratch to your car. So, never again drive your car to an automatic washer with rotating brushes. These brushes are hard.
Soft-cloth automatic car washes
These are much gentler and use soft clothes which rub over your car. This will be much less damaging than the brush ones.
Touchless car washes
Since a lot of people were complaining of the scratches that an automatic car wash gives, a new technology called touchless car wash was developed. This uses laser washing techniques and so, there is no abrasive effect.
The con is that it doesn’t clean your car much as to get rid of dirt you need some amount of scrubbing which this doesn’t offer.
That was all regarding how some car washing can damage your car. There are a lot of car care products available to help protect your car against bird dropping or other debris like tree sap droppings. Be sure to check them as well.