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Paint coating for gas station car washes

bearflag

Member
Jan 2, 2019
19
34
Orange County, CA
Hi,

I've grown tired to using washless sprays to clean my car. I have a midnight silver Model 3 and I know the paint is sensitive.

I was wondering what kind of professional coating (ceramic, etc.) can I put on my car so that I can take it through typical car washes with ease of mind?

thanks.
 

joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,102
960
Encino, CA
I read a comment from an Xpel rep who said that if your car has full PPF, then you can take it through a car wash. Due to PPF's self-healing properties, any scratches or swirls induced by the car wash will disappear after about 20 minutes in the sun's heat.

Ceramic coatings provide a lot of protection from dust, dirt, and contaminants and makes the paint easier to clean, but it does not provide protection from scratches and swirls. For that, you need PPF. Of course, you can always put ceramic on top of PPF for the ultimate in protection, but that costs lots of $$$.

That said, I still don't trust car washes and will continue to use a rinseless wash or waterless wash myself on my P3D. Takes about 20 minutes to do a basic wash.
 

640k

Member
Jul 15, 2019
929
631
Cincinnati
commercial car washes use caustic soaps designed to loosen and dissolve the dirt on your vehicle to make it look clean. the problem with this is it strips the waxes and polishes out of your clearcoat, leaving the paint susceptible. additionally the spray waxes use polymers to adhere to your car without someone polishing it in, which can cause gumming in the paint. not to mention the brushes, cloths, etc., are never, ever cleaned and are the equivalent of wet-sanding your car each time you go through.

touchless car washes will use more detergents to get your car cleaner but will never fully wash your car.

the long of the short of it is, unless you have a film like @joebruin77 mentioned, commercial car washes are bad.

i feel like there should be a sticky on this stuff. it comes up so often.
 

joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,102
960
Encino, CA
commercial car washes use caustic soaps designed to loosen and dissolve the dirt on your vehicle to make it look clean. the problem with this is it strips the waxes and polishes out of your clearcoat,

That’s right, I forgot about that-thanks for the reminder.
So the only way a commercial car wash will not damage your paint or sealant/wax is to have both PPF and ceramic coating. But if you spend the major $$$ for full PPF and ceramic coating, I personally would not take the chance at a car wash. I would either wash it myself or have a mobile detailer come to your house and wash it for you.

Then again, if keeping the paint scratch free or protected isn’t important to you, then you can save a ton of money and use commercial car washes. I used to take my old Chevy Volt through car washes and I didn’t care about the paint’s condition or protection that much. It was full of swirls and scratches but I didn’t care as much since it was a lease.
 

bearflag

Member
Jan 2, 2019
19
34
Orange County, CA
Thanks Full PPF costs a lot.

I took my Lexus CT200h though car washes and it didn't leave that bad of a mark. It's a shame the M3 paint is more sensitive. I don't mind hardly noticeable swirl marks but I don't want it the car washes to make more obvious marks on it.
 
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Kilotango74

Active Member
Apr 2, 2019
1,336
1,129
Palmdale, CA
That’s right, I forgot about that-thanks for the reminder.
So the only way a commercial car wash will not damage your paint or sealant/wax is to have both PPF and ceramic coating. But if you spend the major $$$ for full PPF and ceramic coating, I personally would not take the chance at a car wash. I would either wash it myself or have a mobile detailer come to your house and wash it for you.

Then again, if keeping the paint scratch free or protected isn’t important to you, then you can save a ton of money and use commercial car washes. I used to take my old Chevy Volt through car washes and I didn’t care about the paint’s condition or protection that much. It was full of swirls and scratches but I didn’t care as much since it was a lease.
Naw, the only way is to not go through one in the first place.
 

Vaillant

Member
Jul 19, 2019
270
290
Sunnyvale, CA
FYI, PPF only lasts a few years before it needs to be removed. Also, it has UV protection, which means that paint that isn’t covered can fade differently than PPF protected paint. My previous car was a red RX-8 and I had PPF on the front of the car, which went partway up the hood. Taking it off was a major PITA (I waited too many years) and then it looked lousy afterwards, with a clear difference in how the paint looks on the unprotected and protected areas.
 

Johnii__82

Member
May 12, 2019
184
222
Finland
Hi,

I've grown tired to using washless sprays to clean my car. I have a midnight silver Model 3 and I know the paint is sensitive.

I was wondering what kind of professional coating (ceramic, etc.) can I put on my car so that I can take it through typical car washes with ease of mind?

thanks.

Only PPF. Otherwise you are shi*tted. I can't even hand wash my car.

Don't say anything abuse because i have never abused it. I have proofs.

 

joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,102
960
Encino, CA
FYI, PPF only lasts a few years before it needs to be removed. Also, it has UV protection, which means that paint that isn’t covered can fade differently than PPF protected paint. My previous car was a red RX-8 and I had PPF on the front of the car, which went partway up the hood. Taking it off was a major PITA (I waited too many years) and then it looked lousy afterwards, with a clear difference in how the paint looks on the unprotected and protected areas.

You bring up some interesting points. Perhaps if one does get PPF, it is better to get a whole car PPF rather than a partial PPF.

As for your concern that it only lasts a few years, I think the most recent PPF's on the market are higher quality than those from several years ago. Plus a good quality PPF from a reputable manufacturer will have a substantial warranty. My Xpel PPF comes with a 10-year warranty. I plan on keeping my M3 for 7 to 9 years, so I should be good.
 

jkoya

NA2 NSX
Nov 21, 2018
3,626
1,556
Northern CA
As for your concern that it only lasts a few years, I think the most recent PPF's on the market are higher quality than those from several years ago. Plus a good quality PPF from a reputable manufacturer will have a substantial warranty. My Xpel PPF comes with a 10-year warranty. I plan on keeping my M3 for 7 to 9 years, so I should be good.

I agree !! I've had 9 cars covered in PPF since 2004 and the current ones are much better. The earlier ones would yellow and this was easily visible on light colored cars such as silver or white. I've had two light silver cars since then covered in PPF and there was no yellowing at all.

I had the full exterior of my Model 3 covered in Xpel PPF by @Premiertint and I am very happy with the investment..
 
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