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Talk to me about automatic car washes

Optimum no rinse and a 5 gallon bucket, and you can wash the car anywhere.
I still don’t really understand how this works. So you have a bucket of water with ONR and a wash mitt. You just go over the car with the wash mitt and then you’re done? How does that get all the grime off the car? How does that not leave the car streaky and gross?
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
12,024
7,814
It does if you have PPF.

The touchless wash cleans it off nicely and quickly :)
PPF is a whole different ballgame. Makes it so easy to just rinse with water and everything just comes off. Only very rarely do I have to use a little bit of soap (for some of the more stubborn spots). I only have to microfiber towel dry because the water in my area is hard water and would leave obvious water spots if not, otherwise I would even save that step.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
12,024
7,814
I still don’t really understand how this works. So you have a bucket of water with ONR and a wash mitt. You just go over the car with the wash mitt and then you’re done? How does that get all the grime off the car? How does that not leave the car streaky and gross?
No experience using this product myself, but the instructions are essentially that.
"Add 1 oz. of Optimum No Rinse™ Wash & Shine to 2 gallons of water in a bucket. Soak Big Red Sponge or a quality plush microfiber towel into the wash solution and wash one section at a time till it is completely clean. Dry the section using a clean plush microfiber towel."
Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine - New Formula!
 
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I still don’t really understand how this works. So you have a bucket of water with ONR and a wash mitt. You just go over the car with the wash mitt and then you’re done? How does that get all the grime off the car? How does that not leave the car streaky and gross?

Go over the panel with a wash mitt. Dry it with 1 or 2 towels.
It works the same way every other soap does. It breaks the chemical bond between the surface and the dirt.

When you dry the car, that prevents streaks.
 
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I have several options for automatic car washes and I am trying to decide what is the appropriate choice for my situation. First, I don't need to wash my car that often as I have another car which I drive during inclement weather. For this second vehicle I have a monthly membership which permits me unlimited washes. It's quick and, most importantly, doesn't have any wheel "tracks" with which to guide a vehicle through the wash. Very pleased with it except it is not brushless. The owners manual says to avoid such car washes and brush car washes have never been a preference of mine. Still I haven't noticed any issue with it on my other vehicles.

Given the infrequent need to wash my Model 3 I don't mind using an alternative which is touchless. However most have a track which guides the wheel through the wash. Unfortunately this resulted in a gouge on one of my X5-M wheels as the wheel was too wide to fit in the track causing it to ride over the track. When I reached the end of the track the wheel slipped off and the track gouged the wheel. Given the lack of tire protection on the M3 wheels I would like to avoid such a situation. The only option I can see is to hand wash at one of the car wash bays. But that's not ideal for a number of reasons.

What are others doing to wash their cars?
Coming from many black BMW cars in my past I will tell you automatic car washes will absolutely leave scratches in your clearcoat regardless of manufacturer. How much that bothers you is up to you. I believe the paint on the Tesla is "softer" and more prone to this but again, will this bother you? In the sun you will see swirl marks, the paint will tend to look duller because of it. I hand wash my car in my driveway using the two bucket method, snow foam first then auto shampoo, washing top to bottom and will continue to so do until the weather prevents it, then I'll take it to the detailer once a month until I can hand wash again in the spring. Some people find cutting the grass therapeutic, I like getting my hands all soapy and slippery getting familiar with the curves of my car, know what I mean?? :)
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
12,024
7,814
There are ways of safely washing a really dirty car with ONR:

People in the comments of that video already pointed out, but that car was heavily pre-rinsed with a pressure washer (such that it was close to clean already) before even using the product, so is misleading to call "rinseless" and is different from the water saving method described previously on ONR's website, which only involves a bucket of water (mentioning nothing about hosing the car first).

Saving a last step of hosing down the car after the soap is pointless for a DIY user, only perhaps useful for a pro carwash if there are restrictions on soap discharge. The main point is saving the need to hose the car, otherwise it's not really different from a conventional carwash for your home user.
 
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People in the comments of that video already pointed out, but that car was heavily pre-rinsed with a pressure washer (such that it was close to clean already) before even using the product, so is misleading to call "rinseless" and is different from the water saving method described previously on ONR's website, which only involves a bucket of water (mentioning nothing about hosing the car first).

Saving a last step of hosing down the car after the soap is pointless for a DIY user, only perhaps useful for a pro carwash if there are restrictions on soap discharge. The main point is saving the need to hose the car, otherwise it's not really different from a conventional carwash for your home user.

Unless a car is covered in mud, I've never pre-rinsed a car before using ONR. We don't salt our roads here, but they use a ton of mag clouride here, and that comes off just fine with ONR.

I use the single bucket method.
 

joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,248
1,165
Encino, CA
People in the comments of that video already pointed out, but that car was heavily pre-rinsed with a pressure washer (such that it was close to clean already) before even using the product, so is misleading to call "rinseless" and is different from the water saving method described previously on ONR's website, which only involves a bucket of water (mentioning nothing about hosing the car first).

Saving a last step of hosing down the car after the soap is pointless for a DIY user, only perhaps useful for a pro carwash if there are restrictions on soap discharge. The main point is saving the need to hose the car, otherwise it's not really different from a conventional carwash for your home user.

99% of the time a pre-rinse is not necessary because a car is usually not that dirty. So this situation is not the norm for a rinseless wash. I was simply pointing out that a rinseless wash can be done on a very dirty car. But yes, you do need to rinse it off first if the car is that dirty.

For those people without a hose, you can purchase a battery-powered power washer. For example the Worx Hydroshot. This can suck an ONR solution out of a 5 gallon bucket.

Normally on a lightly to moderately dirty car, this is not necessary.

And even if you do have to pre-rinse, you still end up using less water than a traditional wash because you do not need to rinse after applying the soap.
 
I think we should define what is meant when we say "brushes"? I've seen and used countless automatic car washes in my lifetime, and I think I've only ever encountered what I'd call "brushes" a couple times. They were these large spinning spools with plasticky cords coming out of them as bristles that would beat the heck out of your paint. Similar in appearance and texture as a thick weed-whacker cord. And yes, they clouded the heck out of the clear coat on my black Camaro in 1991. After spending half a day buffing out the carnage, I vowed to never again do something that dumb. Though in reality, I just avoided THAT particular car wash from then on.

However, nearly every single (non cheap gas station) car wash I've seen since then is of the "soft touch" variety, and use a very pliable cloth (or cloth-like) bristles. Sometimes they look like neoprene, though you can't really tell since they're spinning.

I've been using automatic car washes for every single car I've owned and have never had a problem since.

Yes, I totally agree you need to avoid being the next car in line after a muddy 4x4 just went through. But I've never had any damage from an auto wash that wasn't my own fault (forgot to remove/lower antenna, hit the wheel on the rail, etc...). My paint looks amazing on all my cars. Maybe not show-car quality, but I assure you they're all "like new". My cars tend to be lighter colors due to the intense heat where I live, but I've owned some dark ones too. No swirls, scratches, or damage that I can attribute to auto car washes

I have a subscription to my local automatic car wash for 2 of our cars (our daily-drivers). Our model 3 has had an auto-wash every week for its 2 years. While the front definitely has some rock chips from driving, the car otherwise looks fantastic (granted it is white and would show swirls much less). My wife's dark colored Terrain (a 2013) has some minor swirling, but it's 8 years old and has spent most of its life outside.

Maybe some of you having problems are using automatic car washes with the old plastic bristles? just a thought.
 
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I think we should define what is meant when we say "brushes"? I've seen and used countless automatic car washes in my lifetime, and I think I've only ever encountered what I'd call "brushes" a couple times. They were these large spinning spools with plasticky cords coming out of them as bristles that would beat the heck out of your paint. Similar in appearance and texture as a thick weed-whacker cord. And yes, they clouded the heck out of the clear coat on my black Camaro in 1991. After spending half a day buffing out the carnage, I vowed to never again do something that dumb. Though in reality, I just avoided THAT particular car wash from then on.

However, nearly every single (non cheap gas station) car wash I've seen since then is of the "soft touch" variety, and use a very pliable cloth (or cloth-like) bristles. Sometimes they look like neoprene, though you can't really tell since they're spinning.

I've been using automatic car washes for every single car I've owned and have never had a problem since.

Yes, I totally agree you need to avoid being the next car in line after a muddy 4x4 just went through. But I've never had any damage from an auto wash that wasn't my own fault (forgot to remove/lower antenna, hit the wheel on the rail, etc...). My paint looks amazing on all my cars. Maybe not show-car quality, but I assure you they're all "like new". My cars tend to be lighter colors due to the intense heat where I live, but I've owned some dark ones too. No swirls, scratches, or damage that I can attribute to auto car washes

I have a subscription to my local automatic car wash for 2 of our cars (our daily-drivers). Our model 3 has had an auto-wash every week for its 2 years. While the front definitely has some rock chips from driving, the car otherwise looks fantastic (granted it is white and would show swirls much less). My wife's dark colored Terrain (a 2013) has some minor swirling, but it's 8 years old and has spent most of its life outside.

Maybe some of you having problems are using automatic car washes with the old plastic bristles? just a thought.

Any automatic will swirl paint. Period.

There's no such thing as a soft touch wash. All of them do damage.

I've had people show me swirled up cars, thinking that that's how paint is supposed to look when it's "shiny" Because swirls make a paint look 'busy' a lot of people think that's an indicator of a nice paint job. I've seen brand new 6 figure cars swirled up from a dealer, and people think that's how it's supposed to look.

The reality is that most people don't know what they're looking at, or don't car. But if you send me a high quality picture of your paint in direct sun, I'll give you a price quote for how much work it needs to truly be like new.
 
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