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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Visser

I don't need a detail- I'll take it to the carwash!

You may be like the the vast majority of us Michiganders and are ready for winter to end and Spring to begin. Looking at the seven-day forecast, we see weather that would cause us to leave our jackets in the trunk of our car and entice us to get outside to enjoy the beauty of a Michigan spring!

As is common, we also go into “spring cleaning” mode, where our houses and yards get a thorough cleaning in preparation for upcoming season of hosting cookouts, campfires, and yard games!

Our automobiles also receive a spring cleaning. Many individuals will take on the task of cleaning the vehicle themselves, while others prefer to have it professionally detailed. You may ask yourself, “If I take my car through the car wash, why would I need (or want) to have it professionally detailed?” Here’s a few thoughts to consider.

1. Exterior Contamination

Lets face it, car washes are convenient. No hose. No bucket. Prepay for unlimited washes and have a clean car in 5 minutes time. Car washes have their limitations, however.

Have you ever taken your car through a car wash (or washed it yourself) and realized the car wash didn’t get your car “squeaky” clean? Thats because a car wash only removes a majority of on-surface contamination, as its brushes simply cannot properly contour to every nuance of an auto body. Also, many car wash soaps are designed for efficient dirt removal, without rinsing completely clean. Washes compensate for this by applying a rinse aid that further locks in contamination. Over time, cars washed in car washes can develop a “film” that clings to the surface and becomes difficult to remove via traditional washing. I’ll summarize it like this:

Soap film + incomplete wash + rinse aid = wash film.

If car washes are a weekly, or bi-weekly, a little bit of road film increases its thickness over time and must be professionally removed by chemical intervention, clay bar, polishing, or all the above! That $19.99 a month for unlimited washes actually costs you a lot more than you expected!

2. Swirl marks / micro scratches

A common misconception about car washes, is that the brushes they use will not cause a vehicle to become scratched. As a detailer, I can tell you with 100% certainty that they do. Whats more, is the contamination from previous cars that they hold onto!

In a different life, (when I was much younger, and much more careless) I would enjoy doing some “mud running” with my high school buddies. After a few hours of getting our trucks filthy, it was time to clean them. Fortunately for me, my dad owned a gas pressure washer, so I’d drive my muddy truck home just to wreck his concrete driveway with a muddy slurry that once covered my s10.

My other friends, however, would occasionally drive though a car wash. As you can imagine, that same muddy slurry that was all over my dads driveway, is now all whipping through the car wash brushes at hundreds of RPM. Each brush latching onto contamination and dragging it across your paint. So much for a scratch free wash.

It’s ironic to me when I see a line of cars pulling out of the car washes with a number of individuals “toweling off” their cars with microfiber towels. I think to myself, “Don’t they know the damage that just occurred!?”

3. Possible body damage

Although it’s not terribly common, on a few occasions, I have known of car washes causing actual body damage on automobiles. Side mirrors that become broken, wiper arms bent or broken, moldings being ripped off and the like. These car wash tunnels are programmed to perform a certain tasks, and sometimes their “overachieving” isn’t welcomed!

One person I knew, had his bumper cover ripped off by a car wash brush! He said he heard an obscure noise, and to his bewilderment, his bumper cover was dangling on the ground! Thankfully the wash management covered him to have it properly repaired!

4. Hand washing is best

Although hand washing may lose points in the convenience category (compared to a drive-through car wash), properly hand washing your automobile is the best way to ensure no damage occurs.

Our foam presoak begins breaking down dirt before we even start washing to ensure a gentle, safe wash

I like to encourage my clients to use either a (traditional) 2-bucket wash method or the “rinseless wash” method. Both methods (when used properly) yield great results and are safe for vehicle paintwork. Learning proper wash techniques can be rewarding and actually therapeutic!

Even clients that properly wash their vehicle can benefit from professional detailing services. Think of brushing your teeth daily as regular vehicle washing, and yearly dentist checkup appointments as detailing. When used together, they contribute to long-lasting shine and ultimately, better resale value.

In conclusion, although car washes are convenient and relatively affordable, they do not equate to a perfectly clean car and they can cause damage to paintwork (and potentially more).

This Spring, when you get the hunch to start cleaning your automobile, consider Domain Appearance for your detailing needs! We specialize in paint correction and protective ceramic coatings! I promise, you’ll still have a bumper when we finish!

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