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Car Washes

Car washes help keep your car clean and protected from residue.

Professional car washes are better for the environment than hand-washing automobiles. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Professional car washes are better for the environment than hand-washing automobiles.

Automatic car washes are a reasonably low-priced convenience that most car owners take advantage of, especially those who live in an area with changing seasons. In fact, FamilyCar.com recommends that car owners wash their cars more often in the winter than during the warmer months if they live in a part of the country with winter snowfall and salt applied to the roads, mainly to remove salt from underneath the car. With several different types of car washes available, car owners can choose to have their automobiles hand-washed with the use of soft cloths or cleaned through an automatic bay with high-powered jets.

Cloth Car Washes

Commonly called full-service car washes, these facilities are equipped with a conveyor belt that pulls the dirty vehicle through the car wash. The driver turns off the vehicle and places it in neutral while the belt moves the car through the car wash. From there, soaps and detergents are applied and cleaned off with the help of heavy-duty cloths called scrubbers. These scrubbers rotate at a high speed, anywhere from 100 to 500 rpm. After the car has been cleaned, a dryer is used to remove most of the excess water. Attendants are available to hand-dry the vehicles with towels.

A common concern car owners have with cloth washes is that the cloth might scratch their vehicle. While the cloth washes the cars, it might grind abrasive dirt and sand into the car's finish. However, the cloth used is very soft and regularly checked to ensure that nothing is caught in the material that would potentially scratch the automobiles. Additionally, the fabric is replaced once it becomes too worn or dirty.

Water Jet Car Washes

A touchless car wash uses high-powered jets to spray the car with water and powerful detergents to clean off dirt and other residue. These are the only two items that come in contact with the vehicle. The automatic spray produced by the jets must be in close proximity to the automobile to ensure all the dirt and grime is removed properly. Robots are commonly used in these types of car washes, which keep the jet streams at about a foot away from the car. As with cloth car washes, a dryer is turned on to dry off the remaining water. Certain car washes may add a special chemical to the final rinse to speed up the drying process.

Although those that use this type of car wash do not need to worry about scratches to the paint, car owners worry about the type of chemicals used in touchless systems. Without the use of brushes or cloths, there needs to be a way to remove the dirt, and occasionally the chemicals can eat away at the car's finish.

Why Use a Car Wash?

According to the International Carwash Association, professional car washes are better for the environment than hand-washing automobiles in the car owner's driveway. At a facility, the car wash recycles the dirty runoff water that contains the cleaning chemicals and routes it to a treatment center rather than dump it down a storm drain as a homeowner would.

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