Auto car wash or leave it dirty

Discussion in 'Pre Wash, Wash, Decon, Claying, Engine, Wheels, an' started by TheRustySuper, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. TheRustySuper

    TheRustySuper Obsessive Detailer

    Another question from me, what a surprise :p I've been having this debate with myself all winter, and would like everyone's input on it. My GTI has a coat of wax on it, of course. Given the cold weather, classes, work, and everything else, I don't have time to wash my car myself at my apartment (ONR wash). At some point I may get some spare time when it's actually warm, and I'll do an ONR wash then. Given the weather we've had here my car is naturally a mess--brake dust, road grime, salt, etc. We know that automatic (touchless, naturally) car washes use chemicals that strip off the protective coating that wax provides, and that road salt and grime do the same thing. So...which would you rather do, leave your car dirty until you've got time to do an ONR wash that won't strip off the wax, or run your car through a touchless car wash that will affect the durability of the wax but will also get off the salt? I should note that with no access to a garage re-applying wax in this weather is out of the question for me, so prolonging the durability of my wax is on the top of my list.


  2. Chas

    Chas DB Forum Supporter

    I go back and forth with this myself, Clark. But, I wouldn't jump straight to the conclusion that touchless car washes automatically strip any protection you have on a car. I got schooled in a forum awhile back when I stated that I would never go through one because of that reason, I didn't want it to jeaporize or deteriorate the protection I already had on my car. I was alerted to the fact that some, NOT ALL, touchless car washes actually use chemicals that wont inhibit the protection you have on your car. They do a decent job of removing grime, while being relatively gentle with chemicals. Now I don't want to say this is the case with all touchless car washes, some may use harsher chemicals than others and could very well strip protection you may have. It is hit or miss without knowing exactly the chemicals being used in the touchless wash you go through.

    In the end I had to come to the resolve that, 1) I live in an apartment 2) Its unbelievably cold out and not conducive to me going out and doing an ONR wash 3) In times like these a touchless may just have to hold me over for a time if I really want a clean car. In fact, I have to because Virginia uses so much damn salt on the roads that I don't want it sitting on my Jeep longer than it needs to. Hope this gives some help.
  3. Chaseme

    Chaseme DB Forum Supporter

    If your clear coat is on the medium to soft side don't do it. If it's hard, you will be better off.

    However, the tracking system in automated washes can mess with your wheels; unless it's a stationary one and your car doesn't move during the wash process.
  4. React

    React Birth of a Detailer

    I personally would not take it to a touchless wash and wait until I can wash it. This isn't a great idea (waterspotting) but I might consider taking it to a coin op to spray off salt/grime after the car/engine has cooled down if you must do something prior to washing.

    I live in an apartment too but being in Texas and having a garage is a huge help. I almost always do maintenace washes inside my garage w/ ONR. Also doesn't hurt to have a doouble car wash bay to wash either :D Extremely tough to maintain/clean your car if you do not have a garage :/
  5. Perfections

    Perfections Birth of a Detailer

    I know this seems like a tough questions but from a maintenance stand point it's not. Take it to the touch less. It's better to get that crap off your paint on a regular basis vs letting it go and letting the corrosive salts and fallout sit on your paint for extended periods. Look at the brake dust build up on a car one year after you've chemically removed it with ironx and clay. Take one person that washes there car once a week vs once every couple months. It's a big difference in bonded contaminants that cause irreversible damage to your clear coat. Irregardless of if it slighty removes your lsp it's better then the alternative and just get the wax option at the touch less wash and you'll put a little back..
  6. Chaseme

    Chaseme DB Forum Supporter

    Sorry but I have to disagree...the bonded contaminants (iron, etc) will not come off with a maintenance wash. That's what makes them bonded after all.

    However, I do agree with the corrosive salts/brine. But, if the paint is protected with a coating (like Clark's with Opti-Coat) it should be fine; the coating is taking the brunt of the potential etching. The underbody and other miscellaneous exposed bits of the car; that's a different story. I've seen it happen quite a bit; the majority of corrosion begins at panel gaps and exposed metal where the clearcoat is very thin.
  7. Meticulous-Detail

    Meticulous-Detail DB Forum Supporter

  8. TheRustySuper

    TheRustySuper Obsessive Detailer

    Thanks for the advice guys. I would have done it today 'cos the weather was perfect but it's gonna rain tomorrow so all that lovely salt from when it last snowed will end up on my car again :p But fortunately it looks like some warmer weather this weekend and next week and no rain/snow for a hopefully my car is gonna get cleaned up soon.
  9. supercharged

    supercharged DB Forum Supporter

    Clark, coating is the way to go when you want some real durability
  10. TheRustySuper

    TheRustySuper Obsessive Detailer

    That's probably what I'm gonna end up doing. I tried using Opti-Coat once but I didn't do it right and most of the coating has failed. However, I'm gonna polish my car for the first time this summer and I'm seriously considering Opti-Coating it again, only this time I'll make sure I do it right.
  11. Red Orc

    Red Orc Birth of a Detailer

    The touch less wash by me does a VERY good job of removing dirt salt gunk & grime.
    And it doesn't strip the sealant off as far as I can see.
  12. daveinsweethome

    daveinsweethome DB Forum Supporter

    take lots of vacations and go south. visit all the detailers who live in florida and have not clue how hard it is in bad weather anymore. i grew up in san diego and am a chump now in oregon.
  13. Bmer89

    Bmer89 DB Forum Supporter

    This is my winter routine. Go to the coin-op pressure washer car wash place and blow all the crap off (getting the wheel wells and under belly real good), drive 2 blocks to my apartment, ONR wash. And about once a month I'll top it off with Glanz wax, which you can apply in down to 0 degree temps :D all done outside. I highly recommend waxing after going to a touchless car wash, just to make sure you're protected. Glanz and Banana Gloss can both be used in the cold
  14. Celtic Bob

    Celtic Bob Two Bucket System Washer

    I just picked up my new car from the dealership then drove over 400km home on the highway. Needless to say the car is covered in salt and road grime. I will be running it through the touch-less car wash the first day we get above freezing. The car has never had proper waxing or paint protection that I am aware of. I just want all that crap off my car.
  15. Jokeman

    Jokeman Two Bucket System Washer

    Wash it. Better than leaving the salt all over it. In New England they salt the roads till they are white. It takes a toll of vehicles around here.
  16. Celtic Bob

    Celtic Bob Two Bucket System Washer

    Similar here here in Eastern Canada Jokeman.
  17. kyle butler

    kyle butler Birth of a Detailer

    I take my car to the coin-op whenever i can. I gets quite cold here, so anything below -10 and its not worth it as everything just freezes to the paint. Try washing your car at -30. its comedy gold.

    I have 2 coats of PL and ive washed my car at the coin op (no brush) about 10x this year and the water still beads and rolls off like a champ. I highly recomend next winter to seal your car with something like PL or 22ple. This spring i'll be giving my GTI the opti-coat treatment, so thats one less thing to worry about.

    The good thing about some drive-thru touchless washes is they have the undercarriage spray. You just cant get the same results with a coin op.

    Just for fun, heres a pic of how my car looks today. I washed it on saturday.


    Its supposed to be carbon steel grey and not two-tone.
  18. Celtic Bob

    Celtic Bob Two Bucket System Washer

    Mine looks very similar right now.
  19. yamabob

    yamabob Two Bucket System Washer

    I fill a 5 gallon bucket up with 3.5 gallons of warm water and MSUG .If my hose is frozen(I leave it stretched straight all winter to keep it drained) I go to the coin op for the water and use my bucket and mitt. I could never see leaving that crud on.

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