We get asked our opinion of automatic car washes quite often. While we do have our opinions, our answer isn't as biased you may think. Our main grumble comes from the fact we, as detailers, naturally look at cars as investments. We also know that car washes, touchless or automatic, aren't gentle wash methods. The aggressive brushes and the harsh chemicals of the touchless washes aren't good for your vehicle's paint and that's what turns us away from them. With that said, we do believe there is a time and a place for them.
If you have a car that you don't really value a whole lot and don't find it worthy of shelling out a bit more for a proper detail, then an automatic car wash is your best bet. While we recommend you correctly hand wash the vehicle yourself, if it holds no value to you, then save yourself the time. For those of you who have off-road or mudding style vehicles, the car wash is your friend. There's no point in paying money for a true detail or spending the time to maintain the vehicle yourself if you frequently take it through the woods where the paint will receive regular abuse.
Let's flip the coin to car detailing. If you have a car that holds value to you, regardless of the year, make or model, then we highly recommend a detail over an automatic wash. If you don't want to pay for the detail, we suggest learning safe car care techniques, like the rinse-less wash method, so you can do it yourself. A car doesn't have to be fancy or expensive to justify a detail. Most of our regular clients have us detail their daily drivers. But they value them and treat them like investments. Most of the cars we have installed ceramic coatings on are, you guessed it, daily drivers. It doesn't matter if you use it everyday or once a month, if you take care of your car, it will look better than most on the road.
Not all detailing services are created equal. If you want your car to look great, but don't mind it getting dirty on occasion, there are services for you. If you want it looking its best all of the time, there are services for that as well. Need a scratch-free wash and wax? We've got you covered. Do you want meticulous service that cleans the inner barrel of your wheels? We can handle that too. We almost always recommend staying out of the automatic car washes, but they do serve a purpose and are a good fit for some.
To finish this post, we don't want think automatic washes are evil. But, we do want you to be informed of why we typically suggest against them and why most detailers won't even acknowledge their existence. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether your car holds enough value to you to spend the extra money on a professional detail.
Thanks for reading! If you need help finding the right detailer and/or services, reach out to us. We'll always be honest and transparent, even if it means recommending you to someone else. We understand that we're not the perfect fit for everyone with a car. Have a wonderful day!
Your SpeeDetail Team
Butler & Warren Counties