At one point or another, you may have Googled “finding a car wash near me.” Understandably, a professional car wash company can really do a better job than doing it yourself.
But what different car wash companies are out there, and how should you make the right decision to choose the best ones?
Today, you will learn about the different types of car wash services, including washing your own car at home, how to find the nearest car wash, the pros and cons for each type, and how to spot red flags when shopping for a car wash service online.
The Hand Car Wash
This is usually done by your neighbors, like teenagers who want to earn money, or in locations where all the services are manual. There are many car wash companies that do not invest in machinery, and they employ individuals paid by the hour to wash cars.
This, of course, is labor-intensive and also more costly than machine-wash services. Typically, you only do this if you have no time to wash your car yourself.
The thing with a hand car wash is that you can either get amazing results or terrible results. It all depends on the experience and expertise of the service provider.
Hand car wash requires manual labor and the skill of a human being, unlike a robot that is programmed jet water out of nozzles while brushes swirl.
To find the nearest hand car wash, you also have to drive around the city.
If you ever find a service provider who has a proven traction of giving great results, then by all means go for it. If you do it on your own, you would have to spend roughly two hours or more just to get the same squeaky clean results.
Here are the pros and cons of manual car wash services:
- Does not waste your own time
- High-quality results if done by professionals
- Little to no damage to your car paint
- High cost of labor
- Takes a while to get done as humans are not faster than machines
Again, the cost of this service is premium because you are paying the laborers by the hour.
In exchange, you get the right value for your money because the cleaning is done manually. All nooks and crevices of your car will be checked, and you run little to no risk of damaging your car paint.
The DIY Car Wash
This is pretty much what a lot of car owners do. They wash their cars in their garage on a weekend. This is by far the cheapest of all car washes, if taken at face value. After all, you just have to buy soap and wax, and then you are good to go.
What many people do not realize is that this has an indirect cost, most especially so if you are the kind of person who is paid according to his time, like a freelancer.
Instead of you working, you spend time washing your car, and that time spent means you are not earning money when you could have completed one project already.
On another hand, you may have just the weekend to spend with your family. And if you spend two to four hours washing and waxing your car, that time is lost. Instead of enjoying a great weekend with your kinds, you end up using half of your day with your car.
What materials are needed to wash your car? Take a look below at the list:
- Car soap – you can buy this in general and DIY stores. You buy these things by the bottle, and you can chose the one you like at the cost you feel comfortable with.
- Wash Mitts – you cannot use the same cloth you use to wipe your dishes; car paints are fragile, and can easily get scratched if you use the wrong cloth. Use a sponge to apply the soap, but use microfiber cloth to wipe the car dry.
- Pressurized hose – while you can do away with buckets, good luck to the amount of time you would spend washing and rinsing your car. You need to buy a hose with adequate pressure to rinse your car. The pressure will also push away the soot and grime. Without a hose, you will have to scrub the dirt yourself.
If you think about it, the process is fairly simple. The steps are as follows:
- Rinse the car
- Wash the soot and grime
- Apply car wash soap
- Rinse it again
- Dry it with a non-scratch cloth
- Apply wax
- Buff it
All these steps take time. A car may look small, but if you start working on it, you begin to realize that it has a massive size. After all, it can fit at least five people, right?
Now, here is the problem: most car owners do not know how to wash their cars properly. For one, did you know that you should not leave your car to dry under the sun? If you do, you will get what we call sun spots.
Sun spots are dried circles of water on the car paint. And if you have these, prepare to shell out some money to have a professional remove them. Your other option is to wash it again, but this time under a shaded area so the water does not form mineral deposits and dry up quickly.
The same thing goes with waxing a car. There are many techniques in wax application that the product manual will not tell you.
Let us take a look at the pros and cons of DIY car wash.
- Low-cost solution to car washing
- You are in control; any damage is your liability
- You may not be an expert and you can damage your car
- Too time-consuming
- You have to buy equipment; again, you need time to go to the car store to buy them
- Labor-intensive, especially if you do not have a pressurized hose
So, is doing DIY car wash a great idea? It is entirely up to you. There are car owners who have done this their whole life. But of course, one cannot expect the same quality with a car wash that is done by a professional.
The Drive-Through Car Wash
This is a car wash system where you stay inside your car. You drive through a tunnel where machines and robots jet water and soap your vehicle. In the process, big cylinders rotate to brush your car to get rid of debris.
As you get out, your car gets rinsed, and you are good to go.
Now, the drive-through car wash is probably the biggest robot you will ever see in your day-to-day life. It is a complex system that is capable of washing big and small cars.
But how does it work? Let us see the components of a drive-through car wash. While it has thousands of parts, let us only take a look at the big ones.
- Conveyor belt – this is located at the plate where your car sits. It is the thing that moves your car forward as the washing procedure goes. The conveyor belt can hold up to 30 tons.
- Brushes – these are the giant brushes that rotate 90 times a minute; these are the things responsible for soaping your car and removing the soot and grime.
- Rinsing Jets – there are 40 of these in a typical drive-through car wash; these nozzles have controlled pressure and jet about 25 gallons of water ever minute
- Dryers – these are the things that make your car dry before you complete the process; these dyers blast air at about 90 miles per hour. Typically, there are eight of these in a drive-through car wash
By the time all these components are done with their work, the car is dry, and you are ready to leave.
And did you know that all of these processes get completed in as little as three minutes?
Now, what should you do if you decide to opt for this type of car wash? Here is a simple tutorial:
- Pay at the station
- Select the service you want; pay for wax if you want
- Get your car in the tunnel
- Line up the front wheels as directed by the system
- Go on neutral or park
- Do not step on the brake; do not activate the hand brake
- Close all the windows and lock your doors
- Let the conveyor take you forward
- Stay in your car at all times
A drive-through car wash is a tornado of hot water and soap. You should never step out of your car or you will scald yourself.
Here are the pros and cons of a drive-through car wash:
- Really fast; you get in and out within three minutes
- Low-cost compared to hiring a laborer to wash your car
- Highly accessible and convenient; most gas stations have car wash facilities
- Cleaning is superficial; the nooks and crannies are not clean
- The inside of your car and its engines are not cleaned
- Some brushes can damage your car paint
If you are not looking for through cleaning and you are really short of time, then the drive-through car wash is the best option or you. It is affordable, does a decent job, and it is really fast.
The Self-Serve Car Wash
A self-service car wash system is a station where you do the washing yourself. The company provides you with the equipment and an area to wash your car.
You pay for the soap and wax, or you can bring your own, and you use the company’s equipment to wash your car.
This is ideal for individuals who have no garage where they can wash a car. Or those who do not want to buy a pressurized water system.
Well, how come some people have no garage? There are car owners who live in condominium units. They have a parking space, but they are not allowed to wash their cars in that space.
Here are the pros and cons of using a self-service car wash system.
- You get to clean the car yourself
- Expect quality based on your skill
- You can buy the materials you need at the station only as needed
- You need to travel to a self-service station
- Car may not be as clean as it should be
This is also much more affordable than hiring a laborer, but more costly than a drive-through.
A self-service car wash company gives you the opportunity to clean your car if you live in an area where washing it is not possible.
As far the results are concerned, there is really no telling because it is completely up to you.
The Mobile Car Wash
Finally, we have arrived at the best option—a mobile car wash system.
What is it?
As the name implies, a mobile car wash system is a provider where they roam around the streets, or you can call them so they can come to your area and clean your car.
A mobile car wash is a combination of manual and robotic services. Typically, the service comes in a large van.
In it are the water tank and the equipment like the pressure washer. A professional cleaning team comes with the service, and they will clean the car for you.
Basically, it is a combination of a hand car wash and the DIY car wash options. You call the services of a mobile car wash company to your home, and they do it in your garage.
How does it work?
Depending on your location, you can have your car washed in your garage or on the street, provided that your neighbors will not complain. If doing it under the sun, you should not worry because these experts know what to do with water or sun spots.
They have the right solutions for removing stains without damaging your car paint. Also, these experts will also clean the inside of your car. Your upholstery will smell and look new.
Mobile car wash companies also offer auto detailing, which is good because you no longer have to visit another car garage to get this done for you.
What are the pros and cons of a mobile car wash?
- High-quality car wash service
- Your car is clean inside and outside
- No need to watch over them; save time
- No need to visit a gas station or a manual car wash service station
- You have to wait until they arrive so you better schedule it ahead
- Can cost a lot of money since you are paying for gas, equipment, and labor
A mobile car wash is the best option for you if you are not short on budget. You will get premium car wash service with very little risk of damaging your car paint or upholstery.
It is a great choice if you want to spend the weekend with your family, or while you have to work while someone is washing your car.
Why should you choose a mobile car wash provider?
Let us go into detail why a mobile car wash provider is your best option.
- Customized services – mobile car wash companies know that it is not only car wash that you are after. Sometimes, you also need auto-detailing, and they are prepared to that for you. Even if you did not mention this service over the phone, and you just changed your mind, they have the tools and skills to get this done.
- Cost-effective – choose a mobile car wash company that offers a reasonable price for its services. If you your drive-through car wash companies, the prices are fixed. With a mobile car wash, you have an opportunity to make a deal and settle on a price that you are comfortable with.
- Advanced Scheduling – don’t you just hate it when you go to a car wash station only to find out that it is full? With a mobile car wash company, you do not have to wait in line and waste time. Just pick a spot on your calendar and the mobile car wash company will come.
- Get it done regularly – since the mobile car wash company will go to your house, you can expect your car to be cleaned regularly. One issue with car maintenance is that we are just too tired to drive or to wash our cars. With a mobile car wash company, just have a regular schedule and they will do the work.
A mobile car wash company offers flexibility not just in terms of price, but also in terms of time. They have a van that is complete with equipment, and they will come you instead of you coming to them.
If you think about it in terms of food, you do not have to slice meat and vegetables, cook and clean the stove. Just make a phone call and the food should at your door in a matter of hours.
How do You Choose a Car Wash Provider?
Now that you know the different types of service providers, it is time to give you a tutorial on how to choose the right provider.
Below are some tips that will help you make wise decisions about your car and your money.
Before you even get the services of a car wash provider, you need to call in and ask what types of chemicals are used.
There are many chemical-heavy supplies out there that really do wonders in cleaning, but what you do not know is that they also erode your car paint over time.
These chemicals are also bad for the environment. They end up in sewers and the ocean where fish eat them.
Go for car wash providers that use organic materials. They are safe for your car pain and coat, and they are also safe for the environment.
Pricing and Services
If possible, choose a car wash company that provides a balance between the price and the services. It is best to only choose those who offer a complete package.
Once in a while, you need to clean the inside of your car, which is something that drive-through car wash systems cannot do, but mobile car wash providers can.
Ask carefully about what you are paying for. Does it include wax, do they blow dry the car or do they wipe it?
Here are some the questions you should ask to help you decide:
- Are the solutions organic?
- Do they use different solutions on different parts of the car such as tires, mags, body, and upholstery?
- D they apply coat protector; if not, do they apply wax?
- Do they offer rust protection?
- Do they offer auto detailing?
Do not be afraid to ask. As a customer, you need to know what you are paying for.
There are car wash companies that recycle water. The water goes back to the tank and the same water is used to wash other cars.
Surely, you do not want this. That water is already tainted with soot and grime, and can damage your car.
This is not completely illegal, as laws dictate that reused water must go through standard water treatment. This is done to help conserve water.
The thing is, does the car wash company comply with these laws?
Fresh water is still the best for your car. It is not like you are contributing to the water shortage, but if you are ok with recycled water, just make sure that the company has a license and that you can verify that it is compliant.
Your car is one of the most expensive things you will buy. As such, proper care is required. With proper care comes a cost.
You do not have to spend a fortune to clean your car, but make sure you choose the right company to do it for you. If you think you are skilled to do it yourself, then by all means wash your car.
But if you think a professional can do better, then choose a mobile car wash company. The services are great, the costs are reasonable, and you do not have to leave your house.