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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 13th November 2005 Thread Starter
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Auto Car Washes

So, what do people think about auto Car Washes? Do they still damage the paintwork or are they much better these days?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 14th November 2005
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Having sold and installed a few of these, I'd say that they're better designed these days but they still don't do a great job if the car is very dirty.
A good hot wash with a power washer is much better.
post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 14th November 2005
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I still don't trust them - the brushes are still too coarse for my liking, also as supercc said they aren't that good if your car is actually dirty.

Washing a car by any method will introduce "fine swirl scratches", the best way to limit these is to regularly rinse the "wash mitt", don't use a sponge as this will attract grit and keep it at the surface ( if you do use a sponge rinse it even more often). Also get the car wet all over , before you start to wash, this gives the grime a chance to soften slightly and make it easier to wash off.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 14th November 2005
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Do you guys want to hear a real nightmare story?

It involves my Mazda 323F. Six weeks old at the time, and this is a car that was still my 'pride and joy' when I finally swapped it (with over 100K on the clock) for my first Laguna.

I took the car to my regular drive-through car wash, paid my money and set the thing going. All was going well until I heard "BANG! BANG! BANG!" and then saw the rear wiper arm fly out of the front of the car wash and land about 20 feet in front of the car.

Once the programme had completed, I got out and checked the car for damage. Apart from the broken wiper (the aluminium arm had been snapped in two) there was a dent that (typically) managed to cover both the top of the rear hatch and the roof itself.

I've never really trusted drive-through car washes since. Though the one over the road is only 2 quid a go (it used to be a quid, but they've doubled the price and still have people queuing round the block.) I like to hand wash my car where the weather permits, but sheer laziness and the desire not to get my nuts frozen off in winter mean I use the drive-through every now and again.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 14th November 2005
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Since I got my 2000 Laguna about 3 months ago I had been washing it by hand (with the Flash system). But the last couple of weeks has been pretty grimy, and I'm loathe to spend too long washing it for it to get rained on again straight away.

As my car was a fleet car it has light swirls on the paint already, so has obviously been through a car wash a fair few times (possibly all the time, I can't see reps bothering to wash by hand that often).

So last week I decided to try it through our bus wash at work (like a big car wash that'll take a double decker bus, or wagon). I used to wash my last car on it all the time and nothing ever happened, although my previous Sierra Estate did get a damaged mirror off it. Anyway, I thought, better to was it regularly on the bus wash to keep the grime and rust at bay, than to was it less often by hand. So it's been through twice over the last week and came out looking fine each time. Just a quick squeegee of the bonnet and windows and left it to dry.

It looks a lot better than covered in grime all the time, and means it gets washed more often so should help to keep rust at bay. Fair enough if you have time to wash it a few times a week by hand, but I don't, and it's parked outside so if it rains, it's as bad as ever after a few miles.

I remember talking to the wash engineer who comes to service ours a few months ago, he does the garage and supermarket ones too. He said if you knew how they looked after them you'd never use them (he was talking about Asda at the time). He said they never change the water (the wash recycles water to use again), so you end up with loads of grit and whatever was on previous cars, on yours. It is filtered by the wash plant, but no doubt a lot gets through, especially if they don't change the water often (even at all).

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