Are Touchless Car Washes Better for Your Car, SUV, or Truck?


Washing your ride requires time that you sometimes don’t have. It takes a lot of time to clean all the nooks and crannies inside it, especially if you want a deep clean. But, more often than not, you need a maintenance wash that can keep your car tidy for the time being. So, a touchless car wash is a tempting option. But is it a better option?

Are Touchless Car Washes Better for Your Car, SUV, or Truck?

Yes, a touchless car wash is a better option for your car, SUV, or truck if you want to save time and reduce the risk e of damaging your ride’s paint due to less contact. Since these options don’t rely on brushes and soft cloth, it’s less likely that scratches appear. 

Touchless car washes use jets and nozzles to spray the car with detergent and then dry it. Thanks to improvements in technology, sensors can now cover most of the vehicle with specialized soaps that remove dirt and grime. Also, pumps are more powerful now, which means more pressure to wash off those stubborn patches.

Once the car goes through the cleaning process, air jets dry the body, and you’re good to go. It’s a pretty mesmerizing process, check out this video of the high-tech touchless car wash in action.

Regardless of how frequently you drive and for how many miles, your car is bound to get dirty. Washing it makes your ride look good and helps maintain some components clean and avoid premature damage. But, as with every method, touchless car washes have their pros and cons.

Firstly, your car’s clear coat might not love touchless car washes. If you drive a convertible or soft-top off-roader, you might have to take some precautions before using one of these. We’ll explain all these vital points in this article. But, first, let’s talk about the ins and outs of a touchless car wash. 

What Is A Touchless Car Wash?

A touchless car wash doesn’t rely on contact to clean a vehicle. Instead, it uses jets and nozzles to do the job. As with other automated car washes, you don’t have to control anything. Obviously, this only cleans the outside of your car, so you’ll need to find other options for cleaning your interior.

When you enter the car wash, rollers on the ground guide your vehicle through the process. It’s common for touchless options to have a pre-soak. In this stage, nozzles spray a special solution that loosens all the dirt and helps detergents stick better to the car. 

A good car wash will have nozzles aimed at your car, wheels, and undercarriage. Next, you’ll go to a foam applicator. Larger heads apply healthy levels of detergent all over your vehicle. The detergent permeates all the nooks and crannies, loosening any dirt and grime in those tough-to-reach areas. 

Since it’s a touchless car wash, it won’t have scrubbers. Instead, high-pressure water releases all the detergent and dirt. If you live in northern areas or places with plenty of snow, these jets will also clean the underside of your car. It’s essential to clean this area since salt is frequent in snowy regions, and it can damage components over time. 

Finally, you’ll go through the rinse stage. Water sprays in an arch, covering your entire vehicle, and removing any residue. Once the cleaning process has finished, touchless car washes can opt for two drying methods. 

Most will use warm air to dry your car. Some will opt for a soft cloth drying procedure, be it with personnel or mechanized arms. If this is the case, make sure that the cloths are of high quality, as they might scratch your paint. 

Now that we’ve explained the steps to touchless washing let’s dive deeper into its pros and cons. 

What Are the Pros And Cons of a Touchless Car Wash?

Touchless car washes make a strong point as a good alternative for a quick clean. First, let’s talk about some of the advantages. 

Pros

  • No scrubs or cloth brushes will come in contact with your car, so the likelihood of scratches is lower
  • Touchless car washes are more likely to be efficient, using less water and detergents
  • Usually, they are faster than other methods, which means you have more time to go about your day 

As you can see, touchless car washes are practical. But they’re not perfect. Here are some of the disadvantages. 

Cons

  • Since there’s no contact, it’s harder for the jets and nozzles to clean hard to reach areas
  • If your car is extremely filthy, this method might be unable to remove all the contaminants
  • Depending solely on detergents might mean they use harsher chemicals to do the job, which might damage your car’s clear coat
  • Air drying isn’t as effective as other methods, which can lead to moisture spots in certain parts of your car

As you can see, this cleaning method’s main drawbacks revolve around it possibly damaging your paint. But, there are other precautions you must take when using a touchless car wash, especially if you have a soft-top or convertible. 

Can I Use a Touchless Car Wash On My Soft Top Convertible?

You can use a touchless car wash with convertibles and soft-tops, but you might have to take additional precautions. Firstly, you have to make sure that the cloth in your convertible is in good condition. With time, the fabrics tend to wear out. Plus, sharp objects can punch holes in them. 

Also, most convertibles can leak not through the cloth but the frame, instead. Rubber linings can shrink over time, leaving gaps in which water can seep through. Not only will this mean an uncomfortable ride, but moisture can accumulate over time, leading to body corrosion. 

Before you use a touchless car wash, perform an inspection of both your soft-top and your frame. If you spot any damage signs, abstain from using any automatic car wash until you fix it. 

But there’s another interesting point to touchless car washes and soft-tops, and that is the windows. Most, if not all, convertibles use plastic windows, and these can scratch and stain easily. As we’ve mentioned before, harsher chemicals can damage these, even with the first wash. Plus, the high-pressure jets could damage the cloth. 

Because most car washes abstain from responsibility for damages, it’s best to avoid touchless car washes if you have a soft-top or convertible. If you must use them, then do so sparingly. And, what about other cars?

Are Touchless Car Washes Good For Any Car, Truck, or SUV?

Touchless car washes are ideal for any car, SUV, or truck if you want a quick alternative. But keep in mind that they might not be as efficient as other alternatives. 

If you live in snowy areas, salt on the road is prevalent. While touchless car washes can offer undercarriage cleaning, they might not remove all of the salt. 

Speaking of salt, since touchless car washes depend on pressure, it’s common for them to use treated water, to reduce larger minerals that can damage the jets. Car washes accomplish this by treating water with chemicals to “soften” it. 

But, these chemicals could create a thin film over your car’s paintwork. Plus, the automated drying process is often subpar. Don’t be surprised if, after visiting a touchless car wash, you see spots or films on your car’s body. 

So, in the end, the best alternative for cleaning your car is hand washing. If you know how to go about it, then go ahead and do it yourself. 

There are many benefits. First of all, you can inspect regularly and check for signs of damage. Since it’s your ride and you care about it, you can go the extra mile and make sure there’s no dirt left behind.

Plus, you choose which soaps and shampoos to use. You can research the web for the least abrasive chemicals for your ride, reducing the chances of chemical wear. Finally, you can wipe it down with high-quality, scratch-free cloths to prevent damage.

But, if you’re not inclined to do so, go to a professional car wash where they will take all the necessary steps to guarantee a good finish. 

Closing Thoughts 

This article wanted to answer if touchless car washes are better for your car, truck, or SUV. What we learned is that they are faster than other options, such as a hand wash. Also, there’s less risk of scratches since there is no contact between the car wash and your ride. 

These are some of the advantages. But, there are disadvantages as well. The chemicals might be very harsh, which can damage the clear coat. Plus, with soft-tops and convertibles, you not only risk damaging the cloth, but the clear plastic windows as well.

One of the main disadvantages of touchless car washes is drying. Since this method relies on air drying, it might not remove all the moisture in your vehicle, which leads to spot and, possibly, damage to the bodywork. 

Touchless car washes will work if you need a quick cleanup. But there’s always a chance of damaging the paint. So, always opt for a manual wash with high-quality tools and professionals.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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