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Are Touchless Car Washes Worth It?

Are Touchless Car Washes Worth It?

Touchless car washes are a great innovation! They allow us to sit in our vehicles while cruising through the tunnel. It’s also convenient, requires no paper towels or rags, and uses less soap and water to wash our cars. But are they worth it compared to using a manual hand car wash?

Touchless car washes are worth it because they are the least damaging method of washing a vehicle. Their cost-effective nature and speed of service make them an excellent option for general vehicle washing.

Touchless car washes are thought to be more eco-friendly than traditional car washes. Do they really offer all the benefits of a conventional car wash without any of the drawbacks?

This article covers how touchless car washes work and how they compare to the alternatives available.

What Is a Touchless Car Wash?

Driving through a touchless car wash is a time-efficient way to wash your car’s exterior.

These systems are fully automated, making them safer and more effective than traditional car washes. The whole process happens without coming in contact with a single brush or bristle.

How A Touchless Car Wash Works

Most drivers just drive through a touchless car wash, not knowing what happens there. The process is a flawless procedure triggered by sensors that wash your vehicle while in motion.

  1. A sensor at the entrance guides you to the correct position.
  2. The system wets the car to drain off loose dirt.
  3. It applies detergent and rinses it off.
  4. It applies any specialized treatments such as car wax for my car.
  5. Lastly, you drive through the drying bay with jets of hot and dry air.

To effectively clean the car, a touchless car wash combines solutions with high and low PH. These cleaning solutions disintegrate grime quickly since there is no friction washing. 

According to this trade article, these cleaning solutions do the bulk of the work in these car washes.

Pros and Cons of Using Touchless Car Washes

Like most things in life, there are always pros and cons. Let’s take a minute to review the benefits and drawbacks of using touchless car washes.

Touchless Car Wash Pros

  1. Limits damage to a car finishing: Using friction-based methods like handwashing poses a greater possibility of damaging the car’s finish. High-pressure cleaning systems are a better option.
  2. Saves time: It takes a few minutes to get the car cleaned, saving me much time. 
  3. Efficient maintenance option: There is time for quick maintenance cleaning in between major scrub downs.
  4. Limits probable damage of car components: Little chance of damaging loosely-fitted or protruding parts like wipers, antennas, and other parts sticking out. 

Touchless Car Wash Cons

  1. Less thorough clean: Touchless car washes do not entirely get the caked-up bug splatter, bird droppings, and dirt.
  2. Limited drying: The hot air blowers do not efficiently dry the car. During winter especially, the door sweeps stay wet. 
  3. Environmentally harmful cleaning solutions: Over time, if they are improperly mixed, they fade the car’s paintwork. They can also have adverse effects on the environment.
  4. Increases water-spotting: The incomplete drying leads to spotting on the car. It’s not a good show driving around in a water-spotted vehicle if you are from a carwash!

How To Effectively Use a Touchless Car Wash 

While touchless car washes may seem straight forward (and they are), there are still a few tricks that you can utilize to get the most bang for your buck when using them!

Here are five simple steps to follow to achieve the best outcome at a touchless car wash:

  1. Lower your antennae to protect it from the water jets.
  2. Close all your car windows and doors tightly. This keeps the high-pressure water from sipping in.
  3. Fuel where you intend to wash. You can earn discounts on your car wash if you purchase some gas beforehand.
  4. Drive slowly through the drying blowers. This maximizes drying.
  5. Always carry a clean cloth to wipe off any excess water or water-spotting on the car.

Are Automated Car Washes Bad for Your Car?

Frequent washing can indeed result in damage to the paint finish over time. However, a gentler approach will not cause long-lasting harm.

Other than the touchless car wash, the other automatic car washed types include:

Tunnel Car Wash

They use twirling brushes to clean the vehicle in this type of car wash. This type of cleaning tends to be the most abrasive.

There is also a high chance that the dirt and grime transfer from one car to the next.

Soft Cloth Car Wash

In this type of car wash, gentle and soft cloth hangs from the machine. These pieces of fabric may agitate the paint on the car. Although it is more delicate than the tunnel car wash, it is still rough on the car’s surface. 

Rubbing debris from the previous vehicles soaks the cloth transferring it from one car to the next. Whatever waste is carried over may include rocks, grease, and sand. 

Ultimately, I’d avoid such car washes based on those reasons.

The Best Touchless Car Wash Alternatives

Most detailing experts agree that hand washing is the safest car washing technique. Auto Beast states that handwashing the car is a more effective technique than other types of a car wash. 

In contrast to the automated wash, hand washing enables a degree of individual attention absent in an automatic car wash. As a result, hand washing can avoid the disadvantages associated with automated car washing. 

Handwashing your car removes complex contamination gently. However, this type of car wash is only effective if done correctly!

Unlike touchless car wash, you can spend more time cleaning the interior as well.

Potential Dangers to Hand-Washing Your Car

Although you may find hand washing your car is therapeutic and fulfilling, a DIY car cleaning choice may harm your vehicle. This is because you may not know the proper cleaning elements to use. 

Your lack of knowledge on how to protect your car from body damage may lead to actual car paint damage. Other practices that might cause damages to your car’s finish include:

  • Cleaning your car out on a hot day.
  • Not using enough water.
  • Using dish soap or other wrong elements.

Let us look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of handwashing vehicles.

Handwashing Pros

  • You are able to reach hidden regions on the car, where systems on automatic car wash may not. 
  • It is inexpensive since you use human labor and the cleaning products available in the house.
  • You can achieve better results by being keener and more detailed.

Handwashing Cons

  • It takes more time and energy to hand clean the car. 
  • You end up using high amounts of water.
  • It is almost impossible to hand-wash during cold weather.
  • Your car is prone to scratching when you use the wrong cleaning material.
  • You many never completely get off thick mud if you drove from a very muddy off-road. 


Keeping your car looking and working great is a challenge when you have to deal with smog, road grime, and fingerprints.

Fortunately, the touchless car wash technique can save me time and effort and keep our car looking sparkling and new. 

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!