Are the Extras at Car Washes Really Worth It?
In most cases, the basic automatic wash gives you everything you need to drive away with a clean car. This includes the rinse, soap, scrub, rinse, and dry. Don’t fall for those gimmicky-sounding add-ons like pH neutral, triple foam, or fast-acting, as the basic wash alone is effective enough to remove visible dirt.
Keep in mind, however, that only a hand wash can remove dirt from those tough-to-reach places. The basic car wash simply preserves the vehicle’s clear coat and protects the paint from corrosion.
The high-pressure wash option at the coin-operated car wash is a much better option than those hard brushes. Switch to rinse mode to start and hose off the exterior, focusing on the wheels and any hidden dirt and debris. You should soak the car entirely from the top down, getting water into every crevice.
Once you’ve finished the soak, switch to “high-pressure soap” mode and hit the entire vehicle from the top down. Spend extra time on areas with embedded dirt, bugs, and other nasty things.
Try to avoid using the brush altogether, but if you absolutely must use it, blast it with the pressure washer first.
If you have the option of an undercarriage wash, it’s worth the upgrade. An undercarriage wash focuses on the car’s underside to remove road debris that gathers in and around the parts below. You don’t have to upgrade to an undercarriage wash every time, but the occasional wash will reduce corrosion and make your life easier. Just think about how difficult it would be to wash your car’s undercarriage at home.
A few extra add-ons you might want to think twice about include:
A professional clear-coat sealant costs anywhere from $150 to $200, and yet it’s somehow only a few bucks at the car wash. The truth is, that clear-coat protector add-on doesn’t provide the same level of protection as the professional option, so you’re just wasting money.
Many drivers upgrade their car washes with spray-on wax because it does a good job of making all that water roll off your car. Unfortunately, spray-on wax only lasts a few days and doesn’t provide any extra benefits. Stick with an old-fashioned wax job.
Professional rust-proofing requires a professional application, which includes getting under the hood, inside door panels, and up in the undercarriage. A car wash can’t apply rust protection properly, and the next rain storm will wash it off anyway.
Wash your car smarter and save money in the process. Only invest in the features that matter and skip the ones that don’t, so you can save up for professional treatments that will make your car’s finish last.