Are Car Wash Extras Really Worth It?
Reading the menu at an automatic car wash these days can be a little overwhelming. Is the Super Duper Wash Package a super-duper value? Or is it not so much better than the Basic Wash? Here’s what you should know before your next trip to the local car wash.
What’s worth buying?
The Basic Wash
In most cases, the basic wash includes just what it says: rinse, soap, scrub, rinse, and dry. Beware of gimmicky-sounding chemical add-ons such as triple foam, PH neutral, or fast-acting. With the basic wash, the vehicle is first pressure-washed with water to remove exterior dirt and grime. It is then coated with soap and run through a gauntlet of non-abrasive brushes and flaps. While these are mostly effective at removing visible dirt, only a careful hand wash can get the toughest-to-reach places. A basic wash is a great idea to preserve your car’s clear coat and to protect the paint job from dirt and corrosive materials.
An undercarriage wash sprays the underside of your car to remove dirt and road debris that may have gathered in the crevices of the parts below. An occasional undercarriage wash will be the best value you can get at a retail car wash, because when you wash your car at home, it can be hard to reach some of these areas.
Things you may want to think twice about…
When you drive out of the car wash and into the sun again, the spray-on wax does a great job of making all that water bead up and roll right off your vehicle. Unfortunately, the spray-on wax from many car washes typically lasts only a few days and is not nearly as effective as an old-fashioned wax job done by hand.
Clear Coat Protector
Clear coat protection provides a shielding layer to the outer and base paint coats on your vehicle. Having a professional paint sealant applied to your vehicle can range anywhere from $150 to $200. It’s hard to believe that a clear coat protector that costs just a few dollars is going to provide the same level of protection.
Similar to clear coat protection, a true rust proofing requires a careful and thorough application of chemicals. A professional would need to get inside door panels, under the hood, and up into the innards of the under carriage to ensure true rust protection. Applying these chemicals to the exterior to be washed off in the next rain storm may not be worth the few extra bucks.
So how can you decide which car wash services you should skip?
Here’s a suggestion: take your vehicle in for a basic wash and see how it looks a week later. Next time you go in, get the extra services and see how your car compares a week later. Noticeably different? Then continue with the extra services. Not seeing much of a difference? Then save the money you would have spent on the extras to get a basic wash more frequently.