Is it better to use the drive through car wash or do it yourself?
When you are making the decision as to how to keep your precious vehicle clean, there are a lot of different options. You could go through the automatic drive through. Washing your car the old fashioned way at home could be another option as well. If you prefer, you could even pay someone else to use their expertise in order to detail your car for you.
First, let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s of each option:
Drive Through Car Wash (Automated)
Drive through car washes are basically everywhere in your neighborhood. They are designed to be a quick and convenient alternative to hand washing your vehicle. If you have a busy schedule, it only takes a minute or so to drive through, and they are relatively cheap. Most automated car washes range in price from $5-$20 for the “premium” wash. Automatic washes are able to wash upward of 100 cars in an hour! Currently, the automatic car wash industry creates over $9 billion in revenue. If you are into supporting local small businesses, most car washes are private businesses, not franchises.
- Relatively low cost
- Quickly in, out, and back on the road
- Efficient for the business owners
- Convenience. They are usually on the way to or from work
- No need to do any work yourself
- Local business that helps the local economy
There are a lot of positive characteristics of an automatic car wash, as stated above. A few differing viewpoints may provide insight into your decision. For example, every car washed uses approximately 38 gallons of water. This can be wasteful if not properly recycled, and bring harm to the environment. This often occurs because many car washes do not have the means to properly re-use water through a purification system. Another point regarding the use of an automatic car wash that may surprise you is the the effect on your car’s paint. As you leave the car wash, your car looks sparkly and clean. This may seem nice, however, if the wash had brushes, you likely have paint damage. The brushes that rotate over the car in the wash can cause significant swirling in the paint. This often needs a professional to correct by hand, therefore becoming relatively costly.
- Wasteful. Automated car washes waste over 300 million gallons of water per year so it is very damaging to the Earth.
- Damaging. Brushes in the wash can cause damage your paint, therefore becoming expensive to fix.
- Expensive. While going once in a while isn’t pricey, memberships can add up over time.
- Very little control. You may have a certain way that you like your car, and car washes only have so many options.
Hand Washing your Car (The Old Fashioned Way)
It’s a warm and sunny day, and you have your bucket, soap and sponges ready. The hose is running and you begin to soak your car and start the car wash process. Little did you know, there is a lot going on that you cannot see during your wash that can damage your paint. While washing your car by hand can be therapeutic and pleasant, there are many factors to it. Is hand washing a better route than a drive-through?
Hand washing has many benefits associated with it. The ability to clean your car the exact way that you want is a huge benefit of hand washing. In a drive through, it is likely that spots were missed, and you have no control over that. Some people enjoy taking the time to personally clean their vehicle, so there is value in that. You can ultimately save money by using your own supplies as well. Often times, the cost of one service in the drive through is more expensive than buying the products needed to do it yourself.
- Enjoyable. Many people enjoy taking the time to carefully wash their vehicle.
- More control. As you wash your car by hand, you will have more control of what is cleaned or missed.
- Cheaper. In the long run, you can save money buy washing your car yourself.
- Less damaging. In most cases, it causes less damage to your car’s paint to hand wash, if done properly.
While you wash your car in that warm sunlight, there are other forces at work. The warm rays from the sun are causing your paint to soften. When this happens, you must be especially careful with your cleaning supplies, such as rags and sponges. This is because the soft paint and gloss is much easier to scratch when warm. Every time you dunk your sponge into the bucket, you potentially pick up harmful bits of soil and rocks that could cause damage. Be sure to keep fresh water on hand, and change it out often. Drying is important as well, because you must use a clean towel or cloth to avoid spots caused by the sun drying your car unevenly.
You could also pay a professional to detail your car for you. A pro will wash your car’s exterior with great care. They often will add extras for you, such as wax and underbody cleaning. Detail professionals often specialize in interior cleaning too. They can have your car looking brand new after meticulously cleaning your car! The only real downfall here is the cost, but if you can afford it, a professional detail is optimal.
- Takes more time. Washing your car by hand takes a significantly longer amount of time than a drive-through.
- Damaging. If you do not wash and dry your car properly, you risk causing significant damage to your paint.
- Time constraints. Hand washing your car requires the proper weather, and time to do the work. This could be negative if you’re in a rush.
- Cost. While hand washing is cheaper in the long run, you must purchase your supplies up front. Professional detailing can be expensive too.
The next time you are looking for a place to wash your car, make sure you take all of these factors into account. Remember, each different type of cleaning has its own pro’s and con’s. If you have the time and the weather, I would suggest trying to wash your car yourself after watching tutorials. If that isn’t for you, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, try a drive through. Be aware of the risks to your paint associated with drive through washes if you choose that route. Professional detailing is always a great way to get a clean car too, provided you have the money.