The pros and cons of the different types of car washes

December 17, 2014

Not sure how to suds up the car? Discover the most common types of washes and what you can expect from each.

The pros and cons of the different types of car washes

We’ve all been there. Your car gets covered in dirt, mud and salt, and before you know it, you have to take your car into the wash. But how do you know which car wash is best for you? There are many pros and cons to different car washes. Here are the most common types of and what you can expect from each.


Automatic or tunnel car washes are the most common types of car washes. They wash your car with a series of high-powered brushes and blowers. You drive your car into one end onto a conveyor system, put your car in neutral, and then let the car wash do the rest. Brushes and hoses go to work, cleaning your car, and then blow dryers leave you with a squeaky-clean finish.

Pros: Great if you are in a rush since they are incredibly simple to use.

Cons: Won’t always leave you with a sparkling clean car and can damage your paint job.


Touchless or brushless car washes operate almost the same as automatic car washes. Your car is guided through a tunnel by a conveyor belt and led into a similar cleaning series. But this time, no brushes are involved. Instead, high-powered water jets and chemicals are used to clean the car.

Pros: Won’t damage your paint or any delicate components like antennas.

Cons: Won’t make your car spotless.


Self-service car washes are where you park the car and use a high-pressured hose to clean the exterior of the car. This is one of the oldest forms of car washes. You can use the hose for any dirt or grime off your car, soap it all up, and then finally rinse it off at the end.

Pros: Great for condo or apartment dwellers who don’t have a driveway or people who want to meticulously clean their car by hand.

Cons: Can be pricey considering you're doing all the work yourself, and if you aren’t a skilled cleaner or waxer, the results might not be the best.

Auto detail

Auto detailing shops have a professional washer to clean your car by hand from start to finish. They will often offer to clean your interior and your exterior.

Pros: Meticulous attention to detail will leave your car super clean.

Cons: Can be quite a pricey option so be sure to read the reviews before booking an appointment.

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