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Before I screw up my Model 3 in the car wash...

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
142
298
Florida
I've had my Model 3 for 5 days and it's almost time for its first wash. With my prior three vehicles, I've always used the same carwash: it's a "Tommy Wash" with the conveyor belt. Always done a superb job and I've never gotten as much as a micro-scratch from it. My prior car was a Chevy Bolt so I'm not so much worried about the EV aspect, but I want to make sure I have the routine down for the Model 3. I've read a bunch of threads about putting the car in "roll" mode and not using neutral, turning HVAC and wipers off, folding mirrors, but I want to make sure I have the most recent info.

My plan was to:

(1) Fold mirrors
(2) Turn HVAC off
(3) Turn wipers off
(4) Put car in neutral on the down-slope leading into the wash and enter that way (I've practiced getting into N)
(5) Roll in N onto the conveyor (it's a conveyor for all 4 wheels). When the front wheels hit the conveyor, it'll already be in N.
(6) At the end when the light says "GO", lightly touch the brake and shift to D and lightly touch accelerator to exit.

It's mostly that last step that worries me. Attendants tend to freak out when they see brake lights on the line. Is there a better way to go back into D from N?

Thanks,
Mike
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
142
298
Florida
I admit hand washing would be ideal and I did that all my life until I found this car wash. It can do in 3 minutes what it takes me 45 minutes to do and it does as good a job as I can, at least to 95%. Add maybe 5 minutes to that 3 minutes to wipe down places that don't get dry like inside the doors, around the rear hatch, etc. My problem is I live in an area that has love bugs for 5 weeks straight twice a year and if you don't get them off within a couple hours, they etch the paint. So having a reliable and safe car wash is a big plus. Add to that the fact that in the summer, we have thunderstorms almost every day, and I just had to find a non-manual way. I won't even go into all the towns I drive through using their sprinklers mid day to "water down" the streets. It's just too much for this 54 year old to keep up with and have a clean car.

Edit: I have a subscription to the car wash: $30/mo and I can go through there as many times as I like. I've used it on my 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT (black), a Chevy Volt, and a Chevy Bolt. Never had anything but great results with no issues. Worst thing that ever happened is it would sometimes push my passenger side mirror in and I'd have to get out and pop it back forward.

Mike
 

TM3blu

Member
Sep 20, 2018
39
36
Arizona
Recently did my first automatic car wash with no problems. You have all the steps down.
Just remember, when in "N" don't remove your seat belt. And don't touch the peddles.
All will be just fine.

There is a setting to "automagically" fold your mirrors at that location.
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
142
298
Florida
Also don’t lift your butt off the seat. The weight sensor will trigger the parking gear. Maybe also change driving mode to Creep?

Got it. Going one step further, wouldn't "Roll" mode be the best? That should act like neutral while it is in D until I press a pedal. As long as I keep my feet off the pedals until the end of the wash, this would seem to be the mode to use since all I have to do when I see the "GO" sign at the end is slightly press on the accelerator.

Mike
 

showbbq

Member
Jan 8, 2021
71
52
Houston
I've had my Model 3 for 5 days and it's almost time for its first wash. With my prior three vehicles, I've always used the same carwash: it's a "Tommy Wash" with the conveyor belt. Always done a superb job and I've never gotten as much as a micro-scratch from it.

Here's some unsolicited info lol. If you run your car through one of these non touchless washes, you will have swirls/micro scratches/marring all over the car. They may not be easily visible until you see the car in the sunlight and see what looks like spiderweb patterns of little scratches. Just brushing up against a car the wrong way can cause scratches, let alone one of these car washes where the same giant brushes are whacking at plenty of dirty cars before yours. A lot of these places will also use wax to give your car an artificial shine. Basically the wax temporarily fills in the micro scratches so you only see a shiny reflection. Wiping the wax off will reveal all of the defects in your clear coat. Most people won't notice or care about any of this.

A touchless wash is better, you just have to be careful to rinse off all the harsh detergents they use. Also a ceramic coating won't prevent scratches; let's kill that recirculated marketing myth.
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
142
298
Florida
I've always hand washed on the first wash and applied my own wax, then use the carwash after that. The thinking being, the slipperier wax will prevent some scratches. But I took my 2015 Challenger SRT through there probably 25 times and that car was black. I examined it after the first wash and before I traded it with ~25 car washes under its belt, in sunlight, and never saw any micro scratches. Now the key question here is: is the Model 3's paint weaker than other cars? If you're telling me I'll get micro scratches on the Model 3 where I wouldn't on most other cars, I may have to rethink things as I don't know the answer to that question. Of course, I've heard about the Model 3 having weak paint but don't know whether that is FUD or not.

Mike
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
142
298
Florida
Godspeed, and I pray you do not get micro scratches. It is all I can see on my wife's car.

Thanks. I'm definitely going to inspect it closely before and after the first car wash. If I see anything at all "new", I'll cancel my membership, clay bar it, and be done with car washes! I'm hoping I'll have as good luck with the Model 3 as I've had with my other cars through that wash.

Mike
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
8,823
9,415
SF Bay Area
Shifting around in the seat (butt lift) has caused many people a problem from what I read and mentioned above. We do hand washes so no direct experience otherwise.
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
142
298
Florida
I'll do a roll mode entry and I'll press the dashcam button after I come out. Will see how it comes out but it'll probably be a week or so. First wash/wax will be all by hand. Probably won't need to wash it for a week after that.

Mike
 

airboyd

Member
Sep 10, 2020
11
2
Southern California
For weekly wash on my Y, I've been using the Wash Wax method and when it's extra dusty or dirty I use a foam cannon.

Wash Wax method takes me about 20 minutes. A little more if I wipe the inside of the door frames down. Foam brings it up to about 40, but it's great to lift the dirt.

The Wash Wax is pretty quick and easy to touch up.
 

polyphonic54

Member
Aug 29, 2019
288
214
USA
I think the 3 paint is on the soft side. You will see the scratches. Imho, optimum no rinse might be a decent compromise, but of course it takes a little more work.
 

Kat Jacks

Supporting Member
Sep 26, 2020
110
85
Maine
My Tesla is the first car I've ever washed by hand. In the 6 months that I've had it, I have washed it about once every 2 weeks. In coldest weather, with snowy slush and grime, it took longer and 2 changes of the water in the buckets. As long as temps were 40+ and the car was dirty, I washed it. I use the ONR cleaner in one bucket and clear water in the second one. Then dry with a odd-feeling 'leathery' cloth that is actually damp when used. (It gets stiff when dry.) I use the micro-fiber cloths. The paint is smooth, with no swirls so far.
I definitely recommend a touchless car wash if you can't do it by hand yourself. Or, check out a detailing shop that will just do the exterior.
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
142
298
Florida
I've been duly warned and thank everyone for doing that, really! I've just been so impressed with how gentle my car wash is that I have to try it once. If I can't use the car wash, I'm really going to be bummed. With the conditions where I am, it'll mean I can only have a clean car a couple days a week if I'm lucky. It's a bit of a mental thing too: to properly wash my car and have it look beautiful and then a couple hours later, have it ruined by a thunderstorm (which is every day here). It really takes the life out of me and the car wash completely solved that downside of ownership.

I wish I knew for sure how much softer Model 3 paint is than your average car. Is it really that bad?

Mike
 

TBrownTX

Member
Dec 25, 2020
455
520
Dallas, TX
Automatic car washes destroy paint - any paint - not just Tesla. If you are running your car through an automatic wash on a regular basis, you will get swirls/scratches in the surface. This is due to people passing through with a muddy 4X4 and all that dirt gets into the washing pads and ground into the subsequent cars that pass through. Some people don't care or don't look that closely, and that's fine, but if you do I'd avoid at them at all costs (or do PPF).

Note: Touchless washes excluded.

Tim
 
Last edited:

Mark2018s

Member
Mar 22, 2021
41
21
New York
I only hand wash also...2 water bucket method and dirt traps...after spending countless hours and a lot of money on all kinds of products....Ive settled on Shine Armour. Anyone else use this, or something else?
 
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Shelburne

Member
Mar 9, 2021
65
33
Shelburne Falls, MA
I've had my Model 3 for 5 days and it's almost time for its first wash. With my prior three vehicles, I've always used the same carwash: it's a "Tommy Wash" with the conveyor belt. Always done a superb job and I've never gotten as much as a micro-scratch from it. My prior car was a Chevy Bolt so I'm not so much worried about the EV aspect, but I want to make sure I have the routine down for the Model 3. I've read a bunch of threads about putting the car in "roll" mode and not using neutral, turning HVAC and wipers off, folding mirrors, but I want to make sure I have the most recent info.

My plan was to:

(1) Fold mirrors
(2) Turn HVAC off
(3) Turn wipers off
(4) Put car in neutral on the down-slope leading into the wash and enter that way (I've practiced getting into N)
(5) Roll in N onto the conveyor (it's a conveyor for all 4 wheels). When the front wheels hit the conveyor, it'll already be in N.
(6) At the end when the light says "GO", lightly touch the brake and shift to D and lightly touch accelerator to exit.

It's mostly that last step that worries me. Attendants tend to freak out when they see brake lights on the line. Is there a better way to go back into D from N?

Thanks,
Mike
I'm pretty sure the M3 manual strongly recommends using a touches car wash. I bought my M3 in September and hand washed it until the weather got too cold in November. Since then I've been using a touches carwash. It's about 30 miles away, but it does a great job.
 
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