12 Tips on Choosing a Car Wash & Paying

Self car wash near me: Although washing your car by hand is always an option, you might find yourself without the space or supplies to do so. But if you need a quick clean that’s guaranteed to be thorough, it’s your best bet. Never been to one? It might seem a bit scary, but with a bit of beforehand knowledge, you’ll have no problem. Once you pay and connect your vehicle to the track you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

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Self car wash near me

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1. Find a standalone business or a local gas station car wash.

Check the gas stations close to your home, your work, or areas that you frequent. If you find a gas station with a car wash, ask the attendant about discounted prices for drivers that purchase fuel from them. You could also contact standalone car washes and ask about their pricing. Compare your options and decide on the best price and closest option for convenience.

  • Consider the distance of each location and the amount of gas you need to use get to them when making your decision. For example, if a location offers a cheaper per-gallon price than all the others but is out of your way, is it worth it?

Self car wash near me

2. Stick with brushless, soft-touch, or touchless car washes for newer car models.

All of these options forgo the abrasive brushes that are typically used by older car washes. And since modern cars possess a thin, clear coat on top of the base paint, they are more prone to damages that can’t be buffed out.

3. Watch out for automatic car washes that recycle their water.

Most automatic car washes have to recycle their water by law. This means very fine particles of dirt or sand that get past the filters end up in the water washing your car. The tiny particles of sand are shot at your car at a velocity that can damage your vehicle. If you can, use a car wash without recycled water.

Self car wash near me

4. Pay the cashier if there’s no outdoor payment system.

If there’s no outdoor payment station, head inside the business or gas station and pay the cashier. They will likely offer you multiple package options, such as an undercarriage wash or spray wash. Select the appropriate one for your budget and needs and take note of the carwash code on the receipt.

  • Skip undercarriage rustproofing if you have a recent car, which was likely rustproofed extensively during factory assembly.
  • Don’t bother with spray-on wax—it can’t compare to hand-polished waxing.
  • Invest in an undercarriage bath if you have the money.
  • Purchase wheel and tire cleaning if you have the money. Wheel cleaning is a great way to avoid having to repair alloy wheels on your own.
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5. Approach the payment station at automated car washes.

Automated car washes often have a small station similar to what you use at a fast food drive-thru. From here, you can select from about three to four packages that range from a standard wash to specialized washes with tire detailing and wax coating.

  • Invest in tire and wheel cleaning if you can afford it.
  • For modern cars, skip undercarriage rustproofing.
  • Don’t select spray-on waxing—it’s cheaper and more effective to do it on your own.

Self car wash near me

6. Pull onto the car wash track.

Approach the opening of the car wash and look for arrows and signs that indicate where to stop your vehicle. In most cases, you will have to drive forward until your front wheels are properly aligned with the track system. Look for lights and arrows that indicate when your vehicle is properly connected to the car wash track. Once it is, put your vehicle in neutral if it has a manual transmission or park for automatic transmission.

7. Remove automatic wiping options from modern cars.

Many modern cars have an automatic windshield wiper setting that wipes away water without driver interaction. If you have a car like this, be sure to turn the wipers off to prevent wiper damage and windshield streaks. If you’re not sure how to turn them off, check your manufacturer’s manual.

  • In electric cars, look for the “persistent windshield wiper” button on the main computer interface and select “Off.”

Self car wash near me

8. Close all of your vehicle’s windows and lock them.

 Double check that everything is closed and that there aren’t any windows that are partially open. Always lock your windows if you have children—for everyone else, it’s a recommended safety precaution.

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9. Turn off your car’s engine if you’re advised to.

 Many automatic car washes will notify you to turn off your engine. If this is true for yours, always listen to their instructions. If they don’t tell you anything, follow your manufacturer instructions listed in the owner’s manual. For example, some car manufacturers tell drivers to turn off their engine but keep the key in the ignition.

  • If your car has a collision avoidance system, turn it off prior to entry if you’re leaving the engine on.

Self car wash near me

10. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Once the car wash begins, the car wash track will drag your vehicle through the system. Prepare to feel your car shake and hear a bit of noise as the water jets soak your car and the brushes clean them.

  • If you feel any water entering your car, check your windows again and roll them up all the way.

11. Exit the garage once the wash is complete.

After the car wash finishes, you’ll be notified via a sign or light that it is safe to leave the garage. Turn on your engine if it’s off, place your car back into drive, and slowly exit. Take care to look for any pedestrians or vehicles.

Self car wash near me

12. Decline hand-wiping by attendants on busy days.

If you’re using a full-service car wash, attendants will top off your wash by giving your car one last wipe-down. Although this is fine when the cloths are clean, on busy days it’s more likely that you won’t get the best service. Politely decline and give the car a dry with a clean microfiber towel on your own.

  • You can also skip drying altogether and let your car air-dry on the ride home. Wipe off any streaks with a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth.
  • Wash your car once a month if you don’t use it often or keep it in a garage. If you use your car often—especially during the wintertime—or it’s parked outdoors, wash it 2 to 3 times a month.

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