In the car washing and detailing industry everyone is always looking for the next best thing.
If you’re not already aware, automatic car washes are normally very bad for your car. I’ve seen many customers come out of a drive-through car wash looking upset because of the new scratches and swirls in their paintwork.
Touchless car washes were designed to make the automatic car washing process safer for the car owner.
Are they safer though? Can you rely on them to get the job done? Learn all about the touchless car wash below.
What Is A Touchless Car Wash?
A Touchless Car Wash is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the process of washing your car without even touching it.
It was designed to remove the dangers of a normal automatic drive-through car wash.
Instead of using heavy industrial brushes, it utilizes car wash products and high-pressure water. This means that you don’t have to worry about a roller denting your roof or debris scratching your paint.
The Automatic Touchless Car Washes have a specific washing order like most detailers. Just like any other car wash, there is a handful of upsells that they may offer.
The very basic touchless car wash package looks like this:
Rinse > Snow Foam > Rinse > Shampoo > Blow Dry
In theory, this is a great invention. It could revolutionize the car washing business. Unfortunately it still needs to be worked on and refined before it takes over the world.
If you’re still interested in a touchless car wash, below is a list of pros and cons that you should consider before using one.
Touchless Car Wash Pros
Quick – Automatic car washes are made with business owners in mind. They’re designed for minimal labor and aim to get the job done within 10 minutes. This allows businesses to wash a lot more cars and make more money at the same time.
Low cost – Thanks to the low maintenance costs and its ability to wash quickly, touchless car washes can be very cheap. I’ve seen some businesses offer entry-level packages for as cheap as $5
Special Services – Some car washes offer services that you may not be able to do yourself. An undercarriage wash being the most obvious.
Brushless – Automatic car washes with brushes are guaranteed to add scratches and swirls to your car. This is because the brushes pick up dirt, keep it and drag it over your vehicle creating scratches and swirls.
Touchless car washes, on the other hand, do not touch your vehicle but they can still scratch your vehicle.
Economical – This is probably a con for car owners. Touchless car washes often recycle as much water as they can. They’re built to drain water, clean it and then re-use it in the next wash.
If you’re someone that believes in the economic value of recycling water, this is a huge plus. It’s also good for business owners as they have to pay fewer water rates.
Car owners, on the other hand, may have to have their car washed with dirty water.
Easy Maintenance Wash – Sometimes you don’t feel like washing your car but you know you should. Touchless car washes (in theory) are the perfect solution to maintenance washes.
Depending on your level of trust in machines, touchless car washes can be a very convenient option.
Touchless Car Wash Cons
Not LSP Safe – Because touchless car washes run on a budget, the products that they use aren’t going to be the same as a professional detailer would use.
They will be products that are specifically tailored to wash a car but they are harsher and can strip your car of any last step protection.
Incomplete Cleaning – A pressure washer that’s fixed on a rail will not be able to reach the places that a human with a pressure washer can. It also won’t have the same effect as a microfibre wash mitt rubbing against the panel.
Because of its limits, you may find that it doesn’t actually remove as much dirt as you hoped. It’s also entirely possible that you will have to do a follow-up wash when you arrive back home.
A Touchless car wash may only clean 80-90% of your car. It can be good for maintenance washes and as a pre-wash option but it’s not going to produce showroom results.
Poor Drying Methods – A touchless car wash dries your car using large blow driers. This can be an effective method, I know that some professional detailers do it. But, the blow driers in the auto washes are very weak, time-limited and untargeted.
It’s not a big deal, it just means you’ll need to take your own towels to dry your car. If you don’t, you can expect water spotting and potentially, long term, rust will occur.
Are Touchless Car washes bad for paint?
No matter what washing techniques you’re using, it’s still the time when you’re most likely to scratch the paint. You can minimize the dangers as much as you want, but it’s something that will happen regardless.
Due to the high-pressure water and the fact it’s mostly recycled, there are risks that come with a touchless car wash.
Because the water in a touchless car wash is recycled as much as possible, It has its own filtration system. With the water being conditioned and reused constantly, it may actually contaminate your car further.
During the pre-wash stage, if the product does not loosen the dirt properly, the pressured streams could force dirt across your car creating more scratches and swirls.
You should also consider the condition of your car. If you have a car where the paintwork is already flaking or panels are rusting it may be best to wash it yourself. If you don’t, you risk further damage being done.
Is a Touchless car wash better?
When asking if something is better, you always need to compare it to something else.
Is a Touchless Car Wash better than not washing it at all? Yes.
Is it better than the automatic washes that use brushes? Definitely.
Is it better than paying your local roadside car wash? Maybe.
A Touchless Car Wash is a good value for money but it’s not a complete service. There are definitely things that can go wrong, and you may need to do things like dry your car afterward.
As a general rule, the more money, time or effort that you’re willing to spend on your car, the better the finish.
You will always be better off washing your car with the proper techniques or paying someone else to do it for you.
Touchless car wash at home
If you like the idea of a touchless car wash, you can perform one yourself at home.
This is something that can only be done on vehicles with light pollution.
You will need a pressure washer, leaf blower, foam cannon, and a good snow foam.
If you want to add in a shampoo and wax stage you could use the Polar Series from AutoGlym. It’s a product range designed to wash and wax your car using only a pressure washer.
Steps to perform a touchless car wash at home:
- Rinse the vehicle using a pressure washer
- Snow foam the vehicle and let it dwell
- Rinse off the snow foam
- Blow-dry your car
This is only really a temporary fix. It will wash the car, make it look appealing but you will need to wash and detail the car eventually.