Are Automatic Car Washes Bad For Cars Finishing? Latest Guide 2023

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How do you maintain your car? This is the most common question that is asked by everyone with a car often. The answer to this isn’t something that everyone knows of. Because maintaining a car isn’t something easy that everyone with a car does diligently.

Only a few people maintain their cars by cleaning them now and then. The others wait for their car’s appearance to be unrecognizable to give their cars the washing it deserves, which is certainly not right.

The long-term function of a car more or less depends on its maintenance which includes cleaning, changing oils, etc. The more you will maintain it the more is the chance that it will go a long way in life.

So, how do you clean your car? Do you go for the easiest option which is the automatic car wash? Or do you also believe that automatic car washes are bad for your car?

Are Automatic Car Washes Bad For Cars

Are Automatic Car Washes Bad For Cars? Does It Damage The Car’s Finish?

Many people have different opinions about automatic car washes. Some people believe that automatic car washes damage the car’s paint resulting in swirls and scratches while others think that it is the best and the most convenient option to get your cars cleaned in a short span.

In our opinion, whether automatic car washes are safe or not usually depends on the method and tools equipped by your car detailing shop.

What Are the Factors That Affect the Finishing of a Car During The Automatic Car Wash?

Certain factors affect the paint of your car in the automatic car wash, which are:

Bristle Brushes

If your car detailer uses bristle and hard brushes in the automatic car wash then be cautious because such brushes surely affect the finishing of cars with their hard textures.

Strong Chemicals

Not every time your car requires hard chemicals to remove dirt from its surface. Use of hard chemicals in the automatic car wash irrespective if it is required or not can damage your car’s exterior harshly.

Dirty Brushes

The key factor to cleaning your car is to use clean brushes and towels every time to avoid surface blemishes and swirls. Most of the automatic car washers out there use used brushes on every car which results in surface marring and scratches the car.

Repetitive washes

Automatic car wash is somewhat of a luxury that should not be used frequently as it could spoil the surface of the car with its repetitive usage. One should go for an automatic car wash when it is required based on the condition of your car. Going for an automatic car wash just to remove slight dirt and dust could have severe consequences.

Which Method is Safe to Clean a Car? What is the Best Type Of Wash For Cars?

To be honest, none of the methods is safe enough to wash your car without any worry. Every method has its advantages and disadvantages. There isn’t any method that could assure you of the perfect car cleaning without any discrepancies.

Washing a car manually with the right products in hand is the best option so far but it takes time. And managing that time once or thrice a week from your busy schedule isn’t easy for many car enthusiasts out there. Not to mention, the extra care and attention that it requires to ensure safe cleaning.

Similarly, an automatic car wash, the quick and the most convenient option works best most of the time but could be costly and damaging if the right techniques and tools are not used in the process.

There are other touchless and touch-free cleaning techniques out there that work best but they also have their disadvantages. In the touchless technique, sure the brushes are soft but they are not clean which ends up scratching the cars. While in the touch-free technique, you have to know the right tips and tricks to wash the car and you have to use strong chemicals to get rid of tough stains without touching them, which also ends up in swirls and blemishes on cars.

Which Method is Safe Enough to be Followed?

All the methods are safe to clean your cars. Just make sure you follow the correct tips and tricks to do the job. If you are washing it with just water manually then make sure you use the right towels and the right products to do the job. If you are going for an automatic car wash then make sure the brushes are soft and clean before it starts with your car.

All in all, you can prefer any method you want as per your liking, just keep in mind certain aforementioned things to avoid all sorts of scratches and swirls.


Automatic car wash is a convenient and easy option to get your cars cleaned but it has its disadvantages like every method out there. According to car detailing experts, the key to a safe cleaning of a car is extreme care and supervision. With that, you could opt for any method you like.


Can car wash in any way damage the engine?

Normally it does not. But if you leave your engine running while washing it then it can damage the engine. Make sure to turn off your engine wherever you go for car washing.

Does an automatic car wash remove all the contaminants?

It removes most of the contaminants but if you have got sap and tar on your vehicle then it would require some special products/tools to get done with this job effectively.

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Owen Price

I'm Owen Price, the founder and car enthusiast senior editor of CarDetailingDIY. I love helping people and teaching them how to take care of their cars and that they don't end up spending thousands of dollars in detailing something that could have been done by themselves at home easily.

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