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Touch - Car Wash... Who has taken the chance?

The manual says not to use a touch wash for Model 3:

Caution: If washing in an automatic car
wash, use Touchless car washes only.
These car washes have no parts (brushes,
etc.) that touch the surfaces of Model 3.
Using any other type of car wash could
cause damage that is not covered by the
warranty.
 
I know this isn't an enthusiast thing to do, but I've been running my MSM car through the local car wash at least twice a week for months with no distinguishing problems. No film, no ceramic, just paint and hand wax. Even after all that, only barely visible scratches at the right angle...possibly from the car wash or they might have already been there. She still shines like a beauty and smells like a fresh coat of wax each time (I know, I know...that "upgrade" only provides the illusion of protection).

I use the monthly FastPass from Classic Car Wash here in the South Bay. I do wave off the folks hand drying at the end, even though they use fresh towels each time.

I used to pamper my cars so i know what good looks like. My shined-to-a-mirror black cars were religiously clayed, polished, and waxed by hand, by me every 3 months, but that to old, or more accurately, I got old.
 
I usually wash my Model 3 by hand, but I got desperate a few weeks ago and went through an automatic car wash thinking "How bad could just one time be?".

I regret it. There are a bunch of micro scratches all over and my rims are scratched somewhat. I just wanted to get rid of the bugs... :(

(Washing at home is annoying and awkward, as people around my apartment parking spot are constantly driving in and out. I generally use my dad's workshop once a month and wash there.)
 
A lot of cars and especially enthusiasts say not to use touch car washes. I think it boils down to there being such a wide discrepancy of touch car washes including ones that use almost plastic like pieces. I've used a touch car wash here in Austin on a number of cars, many with very nice finished and I've never had issues. I've also seen guys roll SLR McLarens and other 6-figure vehicles through them. The rotating pieces are soft touch material and nothing is really hammering the car.

The weather/dust in Austin, nor having children and a busy life make hand washing a viable solution. I have an unlimited pass at my touch car wash, I get 2 washes a week on average and haven't had any problems. Granted, I haven't put my Tesla through it, but I probably will transfer it.

Having an often dirty car also has it's setbacks. Finally, with the amount of junk on our roads, big rigs and careless drivers, the touch car wash is the least of my concerns in terms of my car's paint finish.
 
You can spot a car that's been through touch-washes easily. Take a close look at the paint and notice all the swirl marks. Not the end of the world but I'd prefer to avoid it. As noted above, there's a big variation in quality of washes too. Also when the cloths/brushes pick up grit and it doesn't wash off naturally, that's rubbed all over your car as you go through, hence the swirls.
 
We've all seen the warnings about only using touch-free car washes, but I am curious if anyone has actually taken their M3 through a car wash that isn't touch-free?
I took ours through a Waterways carwash in Denver today. They have had many Tesla's come through. The tech at the carwash knew what he was doing. It did just fine. We put a full wrap on our Model 3.
 

Gavyne

Member
Jul 27, 2018
667
1,858
SoCal
I used to drive through car washes all the time with my previous car, and I could always see swirls, streaks, and random blemishes. With my Model 3 now, I do my own waterless wash and I see no swirls, streaks, and random blemishes. Before i simply didn't care about how my previous car looked, because it was just a Civic. I liked it, it was reliable, but I thought people were crazy when talking about swirls.

Now I do care how this car looks, which is why I changed how I wash this car. And yes I do have ceramic coating on it which makes waterless wash easier. If you are in the mindset it's just a car, and you don't care if you see swirls, streaks, and random blemishes when sun shines on it from a different angle, then by all means, use the car wash. The paint will be fine. When people talk about car washes they aren't talking about somehow it'll chip your paint or something.

However if you see this as a sexy beast, a thing that maximizes your enjoyment, and you enjoy looking good in it, then well...I would recommend waterless/rinseless wash. It really doesn't take much time to do it once you get a system going.
 
Yeah, you can definitely tell when a car has gone through a gas station car wash, especially those with plastic bristles. Reminds me of nails on a chalkboard. eek!

However, with nicer cars, I tend to notice the roto polishing swirls or oblong streaks of a bad hand wash are more than the horizontal streaked micro-scratches of bad, but not gas station bad, car washes.
 
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Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
7,645
Canyon Lake,CA
Having a white car makes this a no brainer for me. Goes to an automatic wash when I am traveling, but I like to hand wash it when I am home. Just like the feeling of going over the car every so often to take note of any blemishes.

Model X is a big and tall vehicle, so I use a microfiber mit on a long pole to reach the middle of the top. Makes doing the entire car a 10 minute wash cycle, Use a water blade to get off most of the standing water and finish with microfiber drying cloths.

Would do it differently if it was a show pony car, but with the miles I put on the car it gets the job done.

Silver cars are the same way, however if I had a black car, I would definitely use a two bucket system. Maybe even invest in a foamer and DI water.
 
We've all seen the warnings about only using touch-free car washes, but I am curious if anyone has actually taken their M3 through a car wash that isn't touch-free?

You say that as if a touch carwash is some unknown quantity that needs to be tested.

Everyone already knows the damage it does. It’s like using a magic eraser on your paint. No need to re-test that theory.

A woman I know had an old BMW Z3 that she took through a touch car wash every week. The BMW emblems were “sanded” off by the wash — the only thing that was left was the chrome.

Good luck!
 
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