The Disadvantages of Drive-Thru Car Washes – Part One

They are just so convenient. You can pull right up and be out in less than 10 minutes. You have to love it, right? Well, you just might not love it if you found out how bad drive-thru car washes are for your paint. Let’s look at some of the effects drive-thru car washes have on your vehicles exterior.


The famous swirls and scratches that come from drive-thru car washes. If you look closely at your paint, particularly in the light, you will be able to see swirls and scratches. Often times these swirls and scratches come from improper washinf techniques. Why does it matter? Because the more swirls and scratches you have in your paint, the less your car shines, the older it looks.

Drive thru car washes often have brushes or spinners that rub up against your car to remove dirt; This aggressive contact often does more harm than good. Also, some car washes have people that wipe the car down after the car is washed, this too can scratch your paint. When a car is dried off, dirt is collected in the towel. The dirt trapped in the towels can scratch your paint and cause even more swirls. Now image how much dirt is trapped in a towel that has been drying dozens of cars before yours? It can get really nasty. This is how you can see cars in such horrible shape but get washed frequently.

Here is a picture of a car that has seen many car washes and how the swirls and scratches have a cumulative effect.

Courtesy of AutoGeekOnline:>>click here<< for more pictures.

To prevent this from happening you can go to a touchless car wash that doesn’t have anyone drying the car after. While that is ok, the best thing to properly care for your paint is to go to a professional auto detailer. Not all detailers are built the same. Ask the detailers you are considering let serve you some of the information provided here and if they don’t give you favorable responses, steer clear.

This is part one of the Disadvantages of Drive-Thru Car Washes series that we will be publishing throughout the blog. Be sure to stay tuned for part two and the rest of the series.

What have been some of your experiences with drive-thru car washes?