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Using Self Service Car Wash Wand

candyfordays

Member
Sep 2, 2019
62
41
MD with VA Sprinkled.
Did countless research on how to properly wash a car.
Bought a bunch of rag company microfibers, bought the ON solution, a couple of buckets, a dinky little sprayer for presoak, etc etc.
Conclusion, I don't want to deal with this and I just want to go to a self service car wash.
I don't have a pressure washer at home and I don't want to keep adding on top on the "car washing item" budget.

My questions are, are pressure washers strong enough that it can damage the paint, damage any of the sensors, or cameras? Is there anything I have to be viligient for or areas to avoid to prevent any damage to the vehicle?
Should mirrors be folded in or should they be out?

The self service car wash near me has 10 buttons:
1. Tire Cleaner
2. Wheel Brush
3. Pre Soak
4. High Pressure Soap
5. Foam Brush
6. Rinse
7. Clearcoat Protectant
8. Carnauba Wax
9. Spot Free Rinse
10. Air Dryer

From the research I've done, it seems the recommended buttons to press are 3,4,6,9, and 10.
General consensus is to avoid the clearcoat protectant and carnauba wax. Some say its better than nothing but others say don't do it as it has a negative effect.
Foam brush of course will defeinitely NOT be used.
 

TheTonester

Member
Sep 12, 2019
198
101
Delaware
I think you're safe using the do-it-yourself car wash, but unfortunately you're not going to get it fully clean without touching the paint. Just not much choice for those of us with winter climates. You could maybe use the car wash and then use something like ONR after.
 
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Icenks

Member
Dec 15, 2019
161
30
Canada
Love those diy wash Have been using those diy wash since I was 14. Washing my parents car.

So to answer your question, I use Meguiar’s hybrid wax.
So I go for 4, 6, then spray those wax on then 9
No water spots or streaks and the wax goes on and beats off most of the water.

im going through Canadian winter now. But as long as you keep the layer of wax in tack, it’s still possible to keep the car relatively clean without touching it. Just don’t expect showroom clean.

Just a tip, at least at the diy car wash near my house, I don’t use the dryer. I scratched my previous car last time I use the dryer when the machine turned off and the blower nozzle was too close to the car.
 
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joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,177
1,072
Encino, CA
If I understand your question, you are planning on using the DIY wash as a touchless wash. There are two problems with this system. Usually if you do not touch the paint, it will not get sufficiently clean. Some touchless carwashes use more aggressive soaps to compensate for not touching the paint. But the problem with these is that these more aggressive soaps may get the paint a bit more clean, but they will also strip any sealants or waxes off the paint too. And no touchless wash will get the car as clean as a contact wash.

If you still want to use the DIY car wash, I would personally first rinse off the car to wash off any caked on dirt. I would then use one bucket containing an ONR wash solution and a wash mitt or Optimum Big Red Sponge to do a rinseless contact wash. As long as the major dirt has been initially rinsed off the paint, you do not need to do a two-bucket method using ONR. Once you complete the rinseless wash, you could then dry the car using the air dryer at the car wash. Just make sure not to do the rinseless wash in the direct sun, or else the ONR solution will dry and leave water spots before you can dry it off.

Or you could do it all at home. Rinse off the car initially with a garden hose, do a one bucket ONR rinseless wash, and dry the car with a leaf blower. If you do not have a leaf blower or car dryer, AmmoNYC makes a great drying aid called Hydrate. You can dry your entire car using a single damp microfiber towel. I know it sounds strange to dry a car with a damp MF towel, but it really works. And because the towel is wet and lubricated with the Hydrate product, it will not induce scratches while drying.

Hope that helps.
 

bpobill

Member
Feb 2, 2018
339
282
USA
I use waterless wash when my car is very dirty, or just a detail spray every couple of days with a microfiber cloth. Waterless wash takes 7 minutes to clean my car. Detail spray is 3 minutes. It's what I have always done and my cars look great. Wax a couple times a year. You are overthinking this.
 

candyfordays

Member
Sep 2, 2019
62
41
MD with VA Sprinkled.
What exactly is clearcoat protectant and carnauba wax at these self service car wash locations?
Does it do any harm or is it "better than nothing." I seem to be getting differing answers on if I should do it. I never waxed my car before but these spray waxes seem as though its a easy apply so wondering if I should just do it.
 

joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,177
1,072
Encino, CA
I am guessing that the clearcoat protectant is a spray polymer sealant and the carnauba wax is, well, a spray carnauba wax. In terms of what either would do, my guess would be they might add a slight cosmetic improvement, but one that would only last a few days at most. Neither of course are a substitute for actual hand-applied paint sealants and waxes.

I am guessing there may be one practical application of these spray on clearcoat protectants or waxes. They might serve as a drying aid. By spraying on these products during the wash, it may make it easier to dry the car in that the water drops may come off easier and faster. IF this is true, then it may be worth it. You could try a couple washes with each option and see if it feels easier to dry the car or not. The easier the water drops come off the car, the less you need to touch the paint using a MF towel and therefore you reduce the chance of inducing scratches or swirls.

One last point. When you use a DIY car wash, the owner of the car wash has selected the products for you. You have no idea which products they are, the quality of them, etc. And if it is a relatively cheap car wash, the owner will NOT be putting in high-end, high quality products. This is another reason I prefer to wash my car at home. I can choose the soaps, spray sealants, and waxes. But I do understand others may prefer the convenience of using whatever is offered at the DIY wash.
 

TheTonester

Member
Sep 12, 2019
198
101
Delaware
I use waterless wash when my car is very dirty, or just a detail spray every couple of days with a microfiber cloth. Waterless wash takes 7 minutes to clean my car. Detail spray is 3 minutes. It's what I have always done and my cars look great. Wax a couple times a year. You are overthinking this.

I'm not brave enough to do a waterless wash on a really dirty car. Way too high a risk of scratching the paint without a pre-rinse. And that's the problem in winter climates: you can't really pre-rinse.
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
6,244
5,378
MA, NH
I’ve used the self serve when it’s been a cold dry spell. What I do is power wash the brush (it’s a pretty soft brush). Soap the heck out of the car and then use their brush (that I cleaned). Never a problem. Took a heck of lot of coins though ;)

As long as you don’t get close with power wash gun your fine. I never use the gun to “clean”. I’d be extra careful on Tesla’s as they seem a bit delicate. Not the paint but water getting in unexpected places or damaging seals.
 

PianoAl

Member
Dec 15, 2019
965
599
Far Northern California
I had planned to use a self-service car wash with just the sprayer to clean the car.

I tried it and it just didn't get our M3 very clean.

So, I bought a foam gun and a big Costco bag of microfiber cloths.

After watching a number of videos on how to wash a car, my simple plan for a full wash is this:

  1. Rinse car with hose
  2. Coat car with soapy foam
  3. Wait a few minutes.
  4. Put 5-10 microfiber cloths in a bucket of water with ONR or something similar.
  5. Use one cloth at a time, folded so a used portion is never reused
  6. Rinse
 

TheTonester

Member
Sep 12, 2019
198
101
Delaware
I had planned to use a self-service car wash with just the sprayer to clean the car.

I tried it and it just didn't get our M3 very clean.

So, I bought a foam gun and a big Costco bag of microfiber cloths.

After watching a number of videos on how to wash a car, my simple plan for a full wash is this:

  1. Rinse car with hose
  2. Coat car with soapy foam
  3. Wait a few minutes.
  4. Put 5-10 microfiber cloths in a bucket of water with ONR or something similar.
  5. Use one cloth at a time, folded so a used portion is never reused
  6. Rinse

I'd think you'd want to rinse off the soap before doing the ONR, which doesn't need to be rinsed.
 

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