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October 03, 2022 4 min read

Are Touchless Car Washes Safe & Effective?

Many of us have heard the idea that automatic car washes are bad for your vehicle and ones with those huge circular brushes cause damage to your vehicle by either scratching the paint/clearcoat or often breaking things. Some people will claim that an automatic car wash simply isn’t worth it unless you’re attempting to quickly wash a cheap rental car.

When it comes to automatic car washes, touchless car washes seem to be the preferred choice for some automotive enthusiasts. The fact of the matter is that touchless car washes have their pros and cons, and depending on your specific detailing needs, a touchless car wash may or may not be for you.

What is a Touchless Car @ash and How Does it Work?

Touchless car washes have been around for a very long time and the basic fundamentals are nothing new. However, over the years, the effectiveness of touchless car washes has improved through technology, but not enough for us to recommend them.

The fundamentals of a touchless car wash are that the system doesn’t use any brushes that actually touch your vehicle when it goes through such a setup. A touchless car wash uses water pressure and cleaning chemicals to essentially clean a vehicle and ‘wash’ away dirt and grime. The high-pressure water nozzles move around to focus jets of water onto the surface of your vehicle before and after applying soap or other relatively strong chemicals to loosen or dissolve dirt and grime.

The high-water pressure and strong chemicals of a touchless car wash are essential to remove contaminants or elements that are stuck to your vehicle. Though, too much pressure or strong enough chemicals could be a problem and may not even be enough to remove stuck-on dirt, grime, road debris, tar, bugs, bird poo, or other stubborn elements.

Touchless Car Washes Don’t Always Do a Good Job at Cleaning

The reliance on strong, often toxic chemicals to work in conjunction with the high water pressure of a touchless car wash is all it has to clean a vehicle, and often enough that’s just not enough and it can be outright dangerous. The harsh and toxic chemicals used are far from being environmentally friendly and they may cause damage over time.

In countless cases we see vehicles go through a touchless car wash without being thoroughly cleaned. That’s because those focused and powerful jets of water cannot reach certain areas and often miss spots in the time that such car wash systems run. Moreover, the jets of water combined with the harsh chemicals cannot remove stuck-on dirt, grime, road debris, tar, bugs, bird poo, and other stubborn and often baked-in elements. For instance, love bugs or bird poo are items that are usually left on vehicles during a touchless car wash, which will eventually cause damage from their acids if they are not thoroughly cleaned off.

The fact of the matter is the best car wash or detail is to use trusted detailing and sealant products applied by you and a clean high-quality microfiber cloth in your hands. Simply put, washing your vehicle or applying a sealant by hand is the BEST method as you have control over protecting your vehicle, thus preventing damage that may cost you huge in the long run. Moreover, if you ever must use a touchless car wash, which we don’t recommend, you should already have a good sealant applied to protect the vehicle’s paint or make it easier for a touchless car wash to do its job properly by not allowing debris or dirt to stick to the surface.

Touchless Car Washes Can Cause Damage, Too

Using a touchless car wash is sometimes a safer option than using a conventional automatic car wash with large brushes that are almost guaranteed to scratch your vehicle or at least leave micro-scratches. However, touchless car wash systems may use harsh chemicals that are abrasive, toxic, contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds), cause skin irritation, or have solvents that could eventually wear certain surfaces of your vehicle over time.

The use of high-pressure water jets may also be a dangerous case if some of the touchless car wash jets are not calibrated properly. Moreover, the dirt, grime, bird poo, or acidic bodies of dead bugs left on a vehicle that wasn’t fully cleaned by a touchless car wash can result in serious damage if those elements are not cleaned away.

Lastly, touchless car washes may use recycled water that’s hard and contains many minerals that if left on your paint could cause hard water spots and eventually etch your clearcoat and cause micro-scratches.

If you are ever concerned about the use of a touchless car wash, it’s probably best to avoid them altogether. If you’re looking to save time, effort, and money in the detailing of your car, look to using a sealant that makes it easier to clean your vehicle with the proper long-time research & development through decades of testing, hydrophobic properties, advanced technologies, and long-lasting attributes.