Are Automatic Car Washes Bad For Your Car?

Automatic car washes appear to be an excellent, comfortable, and quick alternative to conventional hand car washes. Using an automatic car wash, on the other hand, has been shown to do more damage than good. Brushes leave so-called spider web marks on the exterior, reduce the shine, and blemish the car’s exterior. Abrasive materials can scuff the paint and clear coat, while brushes leave so-called spider web marks on the exterior, reduce the shine, and blemish the car’s exterior.

Brushless car wash systems promise to reduce the risk of harm, provide environmentally friendly washing solutions, and ultimately produce a better product. However, as compared to a traditional hand-wash, brushless car washes have shown to have some major drawbacks and disadvantages, and in some cases, brushless car washes can cause even more harm than a typical automatic car wash solution.

Types Of Automatic Car Washes

1. Car washes in tunnels with spinning brushes

The “traditional” old-style car wash with revolving bristle brushes has been heavily criticised in favour of modern car wash innovations that are said to be gentler on your vehicle’s finish. However, head-to-head comparisons have shown that traditional car washes do less harm to your car’s finish than newer alternatives because brushes do not hold onto abrasives (like grit) as well as soft cloth scrubbers do.

2. Car washes with a soft cloth

Some non-touchless car washes have flaps of fabric that massage the car clean and appear less aggressive. Although, unlike brushes, they can hold the abrasives from any car that has gone before yours. When it comes to car finish damage, latent abrasives in scrubbers are the main culprits.

3. Touchless car washes

Car washes that use the “laser wash” method do not have the same abrasive effect on your paint finish as car washes that touch the vehicle directly. However, there is a cost. They don’t get your car as clean because some scrubbing is needed to remove the grit and grime. To compensate for the lack of direct contact, they use more caustic detergents. A touchless car wash is fine once in a while, but prolonged exposure to these chemicals will cause the finish to deteriorate.

Automatic Car Wash vs Hand Wash

Getting your car washed by a professional has a certain allure, scrubbing away dirt by hand, protecting the paint with a degree of attention that only a professional can offer. Cleaning a car by hand is the most common method and the safest way to protect the paint and appearance in the long run. 


While as driving to the nearest automatic car wash and getting your car clean in minutes is hard to beat in terms of comfort. Car washes via car wash machines are readily available and usually inexpensive. So let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages both have to offer.


  • There’s no way to compare the amount of care and attention you can offer your vehicle from a professional hand wash. Your car may receive a better wash if a human is the one removing dirt and reaching into crevices than some machine in automated washing.


  • Buckets, high-quality sponge, wipes, water, and soap are everything you need to clean your car in a hand wash. The majority of these products are simple to obtain and have on hand, allowing you to wash your car at any time rather than going to a car wash station every time for a wash.


  • One of the most significant advantages of an automated car wash is its speed. You can drive in and out in a matter of minutes, cleaning your car without wasting time.


  • Watermarks are often left on vehicles by automated car washes that don’t get a chance to air dry completely, resulting in a less-than-ideal overall effect than a hand wash.


  • Without a doubt, getting your car washed by a professional(hand wash) takes longer than taking it to a car wash. Scrubbing and washing for many hours can also be physically taxing, causing some to become less concentrated and thorough with your cleaning.

Disadvantages of Automatic Car Wash

  • Paint (or other) harm is perhaps more likely.
  • Abrasive and strong chemicals are used.
  • Brushes that are damaged and dirty can be used
  • The wash is not as thorough as a hand wash
  • Stains caused by water
  • When compared to a hand-wash, it is less effective at removing larger and thicker particles.
  • Uses harsh chemicals that are likely to reduce the longevity of any waxes, sealants, or ceramic coatings on the vehicle.
  • If used excessively, it may be harmful to the clear coat.

How does an automatic car wash work?

You drive into the car wash area and park the car in the wash bay in an automated car wash. Your work is finished once you’ve turned off the car and put it in neutral. The car wash process starts when sensors in the washing bay send a signal to the automated control device that the car is in place.

To begin, any dust or dirt on the surface is removed by jets of water sprayed from numerous orifices, which are driven by a massive pressure washer. The car is then sprayed with a car shampoo solution and pressure washers are used once more. The car then passes through a mitter curtain. The deep cleaning foam is then applied to the car’s surface through nozzles by a foam applicator.

After that, the car passes through a series of scrubbers, which are long vertical poles with soft cloth strips attached to them. The foam cleans the car while the fabric strips lash against it. The foam is then collected using a blast of clean water from a series of nozzles, which also removes all of the dirt and grime. The car is then thoroughly rinsed with clean water to remove any remaining soap or dirt.

The car is then passed through a low-pressure device that sprays car wax on the surface and scrubs it gently to restore its luster. Any water that remains on the surface is evaporated by using a dryer.

A touchless car wash works in the same way as a traditional car wash, with the exception that there are no scrubbers in the system and all washing is performed by jet wash alone. A spot-free rinse system eliminates any remaining water traces during the drying process. This is a much better way to wash your car automatically.


Automatic car washes could be the way to go if you value your time above all else. Sure, they can be rough on your car’s exterior, but the time you save might be worth it in comparison to the minor risk. 


But if you really care about maintaining your vehicle, you should schedule a time to get your car washed by some professionals by hand regularly. A professional hand wash will clean areas that an automatic wash wouldn’t be able to reach, and will leave your car looking brand new.