Do Car Washes Damage Paint?

Do Car Washes Damage Paint?

There’s nothing better than driving a nice, shiny, clean car with perfectly polished paint. However, whether you drive on the backroads, commute on a daily basis, take regular road trips, or like going on off-roading adventures, your car is bound to get dirty. Naturally, when the exterior is dirty, your first thought is to head to the car wash. Before you do, however, you want to make sure that it’s actually safe to do so. Some reports suggest that car washes damage paint, but is this true? Let’s explore.

Do Car Washes Damage Paint?

A major concern that many car owners have is that automatic car washes will cause paint damage. Unfortunately, this concern is warranted. There are some types of car washes that do more damage than others. However, the truth of the matter is that whenever you wash your car – even if you hand wash it with soft clothes and gentle soaps – you can damage the paint.

Why? Applying abrasive and/or harsh chemicals to the finish can cause scratches and leave swirl marks in the finish. Over time, the car’s paint finish can actually wear away.

How can you safely wash your car to prevent paint damage?

You don’t have to be stuck driving a dirty car. In fact, driving a dirty car wouldn’t make any sense because the buildup of debris, dirt, and grime can damage the paint on your vehicle, too. So, what’s the solution?

By making some smart decisions, you can reduce the level of degradation to your car’s finish. Moreover, the majority of modern cars are equipped with coatings that top the paint, creating a highly durable protective layer that can last for up to 10 years, if not longer.

In addition to the above information, it’s also important to point out that the effects of a car wash will vary depending on several factors. For example, the make and model of your vehicle, as well as the type and cleanliness of the car wash that you are using.

Nonetheless, do your due diligence and use your own judgment when trying to decide which car wash will work best for your vehicle.

Tunnel Car Washes with Rotating Brushes

The traditional old-style car washes that feature rotating bristle brushes are often put down by car owners that claim modern car washes are safer and offer better results. That isn’t necessarily true, however.

Tunnel car washes with rotating brushes will actually do less damage to the paint than modern-day car washes.

Soft-Cloth Car Washes

Non-touchless car washes can be equipped with pieces of soft cloth that basically massage the car, loosening the dirt in a less aggressive manner. However, these car washes are more likely to retain abrasive materials that washed off other vehicles. Those abrasives can be transferred onto your vehicle, thus damaging the paint.

Touchless Car Washes

Modern touchless car washes that use a process known as laser washing don’t have an abrasive impact on vehicle paint that car washes that make direct contact do. While they may not cause as much damage, there is a downside. You will need to do some extra scrubbing in order to get rid of the dirt and debris. This excessive scrubbing can damage the paint, so exercise caution.

Additional Information: What Causes Car Paint Swirls?

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