How To Get The Most Out Of An Express Car Wash

Express Car Wash 101
Will the car wash effectively clean my car? Is the car wash safe? Will the car wash scratch my car? What kind of chemicals are they using? Is it better to hand wash or use a tunnel drive thru car wash? Is it better to wash my own car or take it to a professional car wash?

These are all questions a customer may have when deciding to wash their car. For starters check out why you may always want to use an eco-friendly professional car wash to wash your car instead of washing your car at home.

Tri Color Conditioner

Once you’ve decided that it is a good idea to wash your car at a professional car wash, you may wonder which is more effective for your particular automobile: A hand car wash or express car wash. If you’ve decided that an express car wash is the most convenient and effective way to go, you should know a few things:

For starters, it’s important to know if a car wash regularly maintains their car wash equipment using professional car wash technicians. All car washes are not the same, and some do not take as much pride in their car wash facility or equipment that will affect the quality of the car wash. If an express car wash is maintained in optimal condition you can be confident that the tunnel car wash will be safe and effective in washing your car, truck, SUV, or other automobile.  We recommend using an express car wash that only uses high quality foam brushes and/or soft cloth brushes, and the best car wash equipment. Also look to see if the car wash is using brand name chemicals such as Black Magic Tire Shine, Armor All Professional, Rain-X, ZEP, Diamond Shine, and or Simoniz. High quality chemicals are important to ensure protection of the clear coat on your vehicle and will provide the greatest shine. One final thing to look for in a quality express car wash is to see if the attendants give the proper attention to preparing your car for entry into the tunnel.

What level wash should I buy?

At most express car washes you get what you pay for. Remember if you buy the cheapest wash package such as a $3 to $6 wash that an express car wash has to offer you are likely going to limit the amount of cleaning power, sealing, and drying. Most basic car washes will not offer any protection in the form of wax, conditioners, paint sealants, underbody wash, and some basic washes may not offer any cleaning of the wheels. At Lighthouse Express we take pride in offering quality washes in every package we offer and even our base wash is still a great wash but usually recommended if you only need a light cleaning. At Lighthouse we recommend our premium washes as they add significant value in the form of wax and sealant protection and shine. Review each package that a car wash has on their menu, and feel free to ask any questions to attendants or staff members. Look for brand names such as Black Magic, Zep, or Rain-X on their menu which usually are a sign the car wash is using high quality chemicals. The car wash packages may also include better prep by attendants and higher end chemicals and waxes that generally means a better, safer, and more optimal car wash process. I always get one of the top 3 premium packages when I drive my vehicle through an express car wash.

How to Safely Use An Express Car Wash

Here are some helpful tips to getting your car ready for an express car wash:

1) Check for loose parts and that moving parts are secure. Parts to check:
Wipers (front and rear windshield wipers)
• Wheel covers
• Fender covers
• Bumpers
• Antenna covers (e.g. shark fin, antenna bases, etc.).

Plastic pieces that are held on by adhesive get loose over time, particularly if you wash your car regularly. By assuring the plastic pieces such are secure you will minimize any potential damage or loss. If you have loose parts, ask the attendant if they can tape down the loose parts and/or set the tunnel wash to a safer mode setting to prevent possible damage and driver liability.

2) Remove or lower your antenna. Especially on busy days it may be wise to remove your own antenna before getting in line to go through a tunnel wash.

3) Fold in side mirrors.

4) Check your tire pressure and inflate if necessary. Often times, you will not notice deflated tires, and tires that are low in air may not get as efficient a cleaning and may have issues going through a wash that use rollers to guide vehicles through.

5) Prep your own vehicle especially if it is very dirty. Our express car washes have a prep area where you can remove bugs, road tar, tree sap, bird droppings, and mud. This space also provides an opportunity to apply a wheel cleaner on dirty rims for a more effective wheel clean. Remember, most tunnel washes are 2-3 minutes. If your car has been neglected, don’t expect a tunnel express car wash to do the same job as a car wash detail that takes a lot more time.

Express Car Washes are an excellent way to wash and maintain your vehicle‘s appearance. You may want to consider a monthly subscription to a car wash which is sometimes called an Unlimited Wash Club. I like to think of an express car wash doing about 95% of the work needed to maintain my car’s appearance, which saves times, money, and effort to maintaining my vehicle’s brilliant shine. Application of wax, conditioners, tire shine, and other elements add additional layers of protection. Know what you are getting and what you are not getting from an express car wash, and your car and wallet will thank you for many years to come!  Please contact us with any further questions or suggestions.  Thanks for reading and have a positive day.

-Brian Hah, Detail Manager at Lighthouse Express Car Wash
See also: How often should I wash my car?
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