Are Touchless Car Washes Safe For Car Paint? (4 Things To Consider)
Will a touchless car wash damage your car’s paint? Is it better than an automatic car wash with rotating brushes?
In this post you’ll know:
- How a touchless car wash works
- If it’s better or worse than an automatic car wash with rotating brushes
- If it’s safe for your car
- If it’s better or worse than traditional hand wash
By the end of this blog, you’ll know the pros and cons of a touchless car wash and you’ll be able to decide which car wash option to go for.
Let’s get started.
How A Touchless Car Wash Works
A touchless car wash is a car wash method using high-pressure water jets to remove contaminants from the car. Its 3 washing components are:
- Cleaning agent
- Water pressure
It’s still automated, but unlike most tunnel washes, it doesn’t use rotating brushes. The high-pressure water jets work in place of the brushes to lift the dirt off the car.
Because a touchless car wash eliminates the need for physical touches that causes scratches, some feel it’s safer for your paint.
There is some level of truth to this. But its main cleaning component that supposedly lessens scratch causes will contribute to these damages.
I’ll tell you why in a bit.
Touchless Car Wash Is Better Than An Automatic Car Wash With Rotating Brushes
There is no doubt, friction washes mar the car’s paintwork. This is definitely the case with this type of car wash.
In an automatic wash, also called a tunnel wash, the rotating brush or bristle picks up all the dirt from previous cars it cleaned.
With all the dirt and dust it accumulated, the brushes turn into something like soapy sandpaper.
Imagine all those filthy grit slapped into your precious car’s finish over and over again!
That’s going to hurt a lot.
Even if it’s fast and convenient, an automatic wash like this is something you should avoid if you want to preserve your paintwork’s pristine life.
But does that mean a touchless car wash is better for your car?
Let’s find out.
Is a Touchless Car Wash Safe For Your Car?
When compared to an automatic wash with rotating brushes, a touchless car wash is way safer. But, it’s not the best option since it can still damage your paintwork.
Here are 4 reasons why.
1. Excessive Water Pressure Scratches The Surface
To make up for the absence of physical brushes and towels, a touchless car wash uses higher water pressure to remove stubborn dirt and grit.
Good purpose, but there’s a danger.
This powerful water pressure creates a level of impact to the surface of the car that does either of these 2 things:
- Presses the dirt deeper into the paint layers
- Runs the heavy debris across the paintwork
Whichever of the 2, the paintwork will still get some damage especially if the car was heavily soiled when brought it.
It may not cause as many scratches as an automatic wash with rotating brushes, but it does still do some damage.
Eventually, it’ll be heavy on the pocket when you see the need for a paint correction job.
2. Caustic Cleaning Agents Thins Out The Clear Coat
To compensate for the absence of physical contact, not only is the water pressure made stronger than usual, but also the cleaning agents.
In many cases, harsh chemicals are used to break down all the grit sticking to the surface. This will ruin the clear coat in the long run.
Aside from the clear coat, if you added wax or ceramic coat for extra protection, the caustic cleaning agent will cause this layer to thin out too.
Your car will be stripped of the extra protection you applied to it.
3. Touchless Car Washes Uses Salt-Treated Water
The touchless car wash system would need the water to be conditioned first before it’s used by the machine.
This treatment would “soften” the water by adding salt to remove large minerals that can obstruct the water flow inside the system.
The large minerals would be broken down but now the water will have a buildup of salt touching the paintwork leaving a film of dried salt in it.
If the caustic cleaning agent thins out the clear coat and additional protective layer, the car will be more susceptible to corrosion.
Yes, you’ll get a rusty car.
4. Drying Methods Cause Scratches
A touchless car wash is dried in either of these 2 ways:
- Blower dried
- Hand dried
A blower dry is an incomplete method of drying. Water can seep into the door, trunk, and hood opening causing the excess moisture.
The blower dry won’t be able to work on these areas, so these parts are bound to have watermarks.
As for the hand drying method, some car wash stations used saturated low-quality towels.
If they can’t provide a clean and dry microfiber towel, your car will still develop scratch marks defeating the purpose of going touchless.
While it’s safer compared to an automatic wash, it still carries some risk.
Plus, a touchless car wash won’t be able to clean it as well as a hand wash can.
The jet sprays are only directed to limited areas. It won’t be able to reach some nooks, crevices, and the underside of door handles.
Hand Wash Your Car Is The Best Option
By hand washing your car, you have better control over what kinds of cleaning agents, mitts, and towels are used.
Plus you’ll be able to clean your car more thoroughly.
Yes, it involves direct contact with the paintwork, but you’ll be able to manage scratches as long as you use the right cleaning products, towels, and are gentle when wiping it dry.
Recommended Reading: The Interior Detailing Process That Makes Your Car Good As New (In-Depth)
Does hand washing a car have to be long and exhausting?
Not at all.
In fact, you can still utilize the power of pressure by using a car cleaning gun.
Unlike a touchless car wash, with a car cleaning gun, you’ll be able to control how much pressure you want to use.
It makes hand washing a car faster, thorough, and convenient, minus the dangers of paint thinning, corrosion, and scratches.
Another great thing about having a car cleaning gun is its versatile use.
You can use it not only for cleaning the exterior, but it also does an amazing job cleaning the most stubborn stain and dirt on the interior.
So if there will be a car wash meter on which is the safest car wash method, it’ll look something like this:
A touchless car wash is safer if you compare it with the tunnel wash with rotating brushes.
But the safest option will always be the good old hand wash with the help of some modern equipment like a car cleaning gun.