Jeeps are fan favorites. With excellent off-road capabilities, aggressive styling, and solid axles, it’s one of the last authentic 4x4s. Plus, the Jeep is unique; there aren’t many off-roaders out there that you can buy with a soft top. Chances are you’ll get your Jeep dirty, so let’s find out if you can take it to a touchless car wash.
Can you take a soft-top Jeep through a touchless car wash?
You can take a soft-top Jeep through a touchless car wash if you’re short on time and need to clean your car. Because there are no brushes that come in contact with the soft-top, the risk of damaging it is less. But some of these places use harsh chemicals which might damage the cloth. It’s best not to use touchless car washes frequently.
This option is worth a try during the winter, where handwashing is uncomfortable and, sometimes, impractical. In northern areas, you might even find the option for cleaning the undercarriage. This removes dirt, mud, and salt from the bottom of your Jeep.
But touchless car washes aren’t perfect. The system will go through many steps to clean your Jeep and use high-power jets to remove dirt. Since there is no contact, they rely on pressure and chemicals to clean. An older soft-top might not withstand the pressure coming from those nozzles.
The best alternative for cleaning a soft-top Jeep is handwashing. Staff uses soft cloth, less pressure, and more attention to detail. The main disadvantage is that these car washes are becoming harder to find. Plus, they’re more expensive and will take more time.
When it comes to drying your Jeep, you’ll find that most car washes use automatic dryers. This system uses air at high pressure to dry your car. With these, you don’t have to wait long, as they are fast and effective. There’s minimal risk of damage.
Of course, you can do it yourself. It takes time, but the results can be what you’re looking for. Also, by taking a hands-on approach, you can choose which soaps, cloths, and pressure washers to use. Thus, you will ensure that you’re using the best tools for the job.
How does a touchless car wash clean your Jeep?
So, you’ve had a great weekend out in the woods and need to have your Jeep clean by Monday. This is when a touchless car wash is a good option.
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 begins to loosen all the dirt. It also 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 car. 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.
Finally, you’ll go through the rinse stage. Water sprays in an arch, covering your entire vehicle, and removing any residue.
How can a contact car wash damage my Jeep?
Contrary to touchless alternatives, a contact car wash uses several devices that might damage the soft-top on your Jeep. The first of these is the mitter curtain, a series of long, soft strips that move in a circular pattern. Their job is to rub the pre-soak all around the car so that it permeates better.
But the riskiest part of the process is the scrubbers. These large cylinders contain cloth strips that spin at high speeds. Your soft-top might not show signs of damage with one pass, but there’s no guarantee that it will hold.
Also, keep in mind that the windows on a soft-top Jeep are plastic. It scratches easily, and these strips can leave marks from the first go. Plus, the detergents might stain the plastic and cloth since they are abrasive.
Several forums talk about the risks of taking soft-top Jeeps to automated contact car washes. Most businesses will not be responsible for any damages to your car (any car, for that matter), but soft-tops in particular.
We’ve written about the risks of putting your Wrangler through the car wash. Read our article for more tips.
Is it normal that my soft-top Jeep leaks at the car wash?
The Jeep Wrangler is famous for off-roading and infamous for leaking, even the hard-top versions. So, if you’re putting it through a car wash, you might see some water or detergent seep into your interior. There are many possible causes for this.
First of all, your soft top might be old. Inspect the cloth to see if it has any tears or holes. If it looks to be in okay condition, then be sure to check on it regularly, especially if your car sits under the sun for long hours.
If it does have a hole or tear, you can repair it with the proper tools. Keep in mind that some damage might be unrepairable. If you don’t feel qualified to do such work, you can take it to a specialized store.
There is another critical point you should check: the weather stripping. This is the rubber material that sits against all edges of doors, windows, and, in this case, the roof.
The rubber provides a seal and prevents leaks. But this material wears out over time, especially in conditions such as scorching, dry heat, or freezing temperatures. A common occurrence is that, with time, the rubber shrinks, forming gaps in several areas of the roof.
This is a widespread occurrence. We’ve written about how this damage might appear in high-mileage Jeeps. Read our article to find out more issues that come with older models.
Ironically, the detergents in many car washes can cause the rubber to dry up. These chemicals are so abrasive that they can draw out the moisture from the material and crack it over time.
If this happens, you can replace the weather stripping. It’s an inexpensive procedure, and a specialized shop can do it quickly.
With so many factors to consider when having a soft-top Jeep, it’s worth finding out the best way to clean it.
The best way to wash your Jeep is by hand.
There are many reasons why washing your Jeep by hand is the best choice. First of all, you can inspect regularly and check for holes and other 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 can use the right tools to avoid puncturing your soft-top and damaging the seals. Though the strips at a contact car wash are soft, they still turn at a considerable speed and might damage either the plastic windows or the cloth.
Most importantly, 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, after washing your Jeep, wipe it down with high-quality, scratch-free cloths to prevent damage. The last word of advice is that, with black Jeeps, in particular, you should always use high-quality wax to keep that shine.
This article wanted to answer whether you can take your soft-top Jeep to a touchless car wash. You can, and the chances of damaging the cloth or plastic windows are lower than with other options. But, it’s still possible that the high-pressure nozzles can damage your ride.
It’s an ideal option for those who don’t have much time. A touchless car wash will provide a good result fast. Plus, you don’t have to do much. But, it’s not the best.
The one car wash that you should avoid at all costs with a soft-top Jeep is the contact option. The brushes, strips, and rubber flaps are almost guaranteed to damage part of your ride.
If you want to take care of your Jeep, then the best choice is to wash it by hand. You can choose suitable detergents and soaps, cloths, and products to apply after you’re done. Plus, since you’re doing all the work, you can check for any damages periodically.
The Jeep was born for the wilderness and has taken many drivers to places unknown. So, go out there and enjoy your Jeep and, once you get back, be sure to give it the best cleaning possible.