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

datim2010

New Member
Mar 26, 2021
1
1
Naples, FL
Sounds like you live in Florida like me. I just use a touchless car wash, much easier. One where I just roll into the space, the power arm and jets spray all around the car. Saves me time, doesn't touch the paint.
 
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Mattopotamus

Member
Jun 7, 2020
335
242
Atlanta
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.

The good thing about ONR is that future washes go much faster after a really good clean. I probably spent an hour on my first wash after the winter, and the next one only took 20-25 mins.

I also put some in a spray bottle and hit it with that first, and then come behind with the Big red sponge.
 
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Ampre Sand

Member
Nov 18, 2016
61
32
Seattle
The good thing about ONR is that future washes go much faster after a really good clean. I probably spent an hour on my first wash after the winter, and the next one only took 20-25 mins.

I also put some in a spray bottle and hit it with that first, and then come behind with the Big red sponge.

ONR is great! I still like to do a real wash now and then, as a wipe-down with ONR doesn't get all the dust out of the wheels and such. I have a spray-bottle filled with a dilute solution of ONR that is handy for quickly wiping down the bugs before they dry - a habit I got into from owning an airplane. The PPF on the front makes them come off even easier.

To the OP's question, have you thought about possible damage to the rims from the track? Depending on your wheels, there may not be much, if any, protection from the tire sidewalls.
 
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TLLMRRJ

Active Member
Dec 19, 2019
1,771
1,742
Houston
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

I am like you. We have a great drive through car wash close to my house with monthly unlimited subscriptions. I have always taken my daily driver's through that car wash for many years without any issues.

When I got my Tesla Model 3, I was hand washing it based on what all the comments on forums were saying, but I was really missing the convenience of driving through the car wash whenever needed, and just doing the touch ups afterwards. Hand washing sucks.

So I got myself ready to at least try my familiar automatic carwash just one time to see how it went. What could wrong, right? Well, I ended up having to buy a new orbital polisher, pads, and polish (about $300 of stuff) and spend an entire day of hard labor (I'm not getting any younger) polishing out the absolutely hideous fine scratches all over ever inch of the paint. It really did look like it was covered in spider webs.

Sometimes, I have learn to hard way.
 

Mark2018s

Member
Mar 22, 2021
41
21
New York
I am like you. We have a great drive through car wash close to my house with monthly unlimited subscriptions. I have always taken my daily driver's through that car wash for many years without any issues.

When I got my Tesla Model 3, I was hand washing it based on what all the comments on forums were saying, but I was really missing the convenience of driving through the car wash whenever needed, and just doing the touch ups afterwards. Hand washing sucks.

So I got myself ready to at least try my familiar automatic carwash just one time to see how it went. What could wrong, right? Well, I ended up having to buy a new orbital polisher, pads, and polish (about $300 of stuff) and spend an entire day of hard labor (I'm not getting any younger) polishing out the absolutely hideous fine scratches all over ever inch of the paint. It really did look like it was covered in spider webs.

Sometimes, I have learn to hard way.
I look forward to spending a few hours washing and polishing my car....cleaning and coating the tires also. It looks like new and I get compliments on it all the time. If its worth having a nice car, its worth the time to keep it looking great. Once I get tired of having a nice car, ill just get a Honda and be done with it....till then, I still enjoy living.
 

showbbq

Member
Jan 8, 2021
87
61
Houston
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

I see you've changed your mind which is great lol. Also, clay bar will remove contaminants but will leave more fine scratches. Only polishing will remove scratches. Rinseless washes are ok...after a few months you'll definitely see an accumulation of scratches. IME the safest methods are touchless or 3-bucket wash. These aren't showroom cars though. Gotta strike a balance between how much effort you wanna spend protecting your paint vs convenience.

Heck, years ago I'd scrub my old honda with a luffa sponge and dish soap and I thought I was doing a great job. 😂
 
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SlimJim

Member
Jul 25, 2019
868
660
USA
I don't fold my mirrors because I don't want to have to clean the mirror and part of the door afterwards. I get it all cleaned in the tunnel.
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
245
462
Florida
A lazy but pricey method is getting self-healing PPF over the entire car and you can run through all the car washes you like. Parking in the sun will help heal away scratches.

I'm a little confused on that. Does the PPF actually take the brunt of the scratches or does it still scratch the paint underneath and the PPF just "melts" into those paint scratches and fill them in?

I don't really want to damage the soft paint so now I'm afraid to use car washes at all. Touchless is not an option for me because (a) they don't really work and (b) the manual says don't use high pressure spray which is basically what a touchless wash is. Seem you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Mike
 

joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,033
893
Encino, CA
I'm a little confused on that. Does the PPF actually take the brunt of the scratches or does it still scratch the paint underneath and the PPF just "melts" into those paint scratches and fill them in?

I don't really want to damage the soft paint so now I'm afraid to use car washes at all. Touchless is not an option for me because (a) they don't really work and (b) the manual says don't use high pressure spray which is basically what a touchless wash is. Seem you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Mike

Yes, PPF will protect paint and is self-healing. It is 4-5 times as thick as paint so the vast majority of scratches will not penetrate the PPF, leaving the paint completely protected. The self-healing properties are truly amazing and unlike any other protection product on the market. Here is a video I have posted on TMC previously, but it demonstrates how scratches self heal and disappear:


I personally avoid touchless car washes. Making contact with the paint really helps to clean the paint. Since touchless car washes don't actually touch the paint, they often try to compensate for the reduced cleaning ability by using soaps that are not PH neutral. As a result, they often strip waxes and sealants. So you when you leave the touchless wash, you may be driving off with your wax or sealant removed.

I love using ONR. As long as you use proper techniques and as long as you do not have caked-on mud, a rinseless wash with ONR will not induce scratches.
 

TLLMRRJ

Active Member
Dec 19, 2019
1,771
1,742
Houston
A lazy but pricey method is getting self-healing PPF over the entire car and you can run through all the car washes you like. Parking in the sun will help heal away scratches.

It's definitely a solution, but so pricey, when you compare the cost of PPF + machine car was fees to having a mobile hand wash come to your house regularly, you'll probably sell the car before you break even.
 

rxlawdude

Active Member
Jul 10, 2015
2,373
1,646
Orange County, CA
It's definitely a solution, but so pricey, when you compare the cost of PPF + machine car was fees to having a mobile hand wash come to your house regularly, you'll probably sell the car before you break even.
I just do the calculation that full PPF costs about 8-10% of the car, and have to question this practice. How much is a quality full paint job compared to PPF installation? I'm guessing pretty similar. And assuming that is the case, one could save the money that would be spent on PPF, enjoy the car, and if the paint gets to the point of no return, then repaint.

YMMV.
 
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MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
245
462
Florida
Yeah, I dumped as much as I could into the M3 for now, including buying the $2000 performance boost. Can't afford PPF so I'll be going the ONR route. The kit arrives tomorrow so I can give it its first "wash".

Mike
 
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joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,033
893
Encino, CA
I just do the calculation that full PPF costs about 8-10% of the car, and have to question this practice. How much is a quality full paint job compared to PPF installation? I'm guessing pretty similar. And assuming that is the case, one could save the money that would be spent on PPF, enjoy the car, and if the paint gets to the point of no return, then repaint.

YMMV.

I totally understand and respect your point. After all, it is just a car and that $5,000 could be invested or put to use on something other than paint protection. Some Tesla owners may decide to apply at most an $8.00 bottle of Turtle Wax Seal and Shine for paint protection and that is a perfectly legitimate choice.

For me personally, there are several reasons why I went with PPF:
1) I plan on owning this car for 8-10 years and it will be parked outside unsheltered from the elements that entire time.
2) I live in an area where door dings in parking lots happen very frequently.
3) The design of the Model 3 makes it a bug and debris collecting magnet. Chances are high that the front bumper and rocker panels will get wrecked eventually if unprotected. Yes, I could live with it, but prefer not to.
4) I am a car, detailing guy. I love glossy, scratch and swirl free paint. With PPF, I will never have to do a 2 or 3 step paint correction and polish ever again.
5) Yes, PPF is expensive and you could get your car repainted instead. But PPF will protect your car and self heal over and over again. If you get your car repainted, the paint could get damaged again after the new paint job.
6) I have had a couple minor fender repairs. The PPF absorbed the impact and the paint underneath was not damaged at all. I had to replace the PPF, but it was relatively cheap to do a single fender and I was in an out of the shop in just over an hour. That is much more convenient than having to leave the car at the body shop for several days to have the fender repainted.
 
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polyphonic54

Member
Aug 29, 2019
301
225
USA
You’ll need some high quality waffle towels for ONR. Dry me a river are great.

Been using this for 2 years almost exclusively, with a very rare traditional wash for extra stubborn bugs.
 

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