Here at Tommy’s Express, we hear of many community members who sincerely believe that touchless car washing is the safest option for their cars. But touchless car washing leaves out a critical element for balanced, safe, efficient vehicle cleaning, and that’s not good when it comes to taking care of your car in the long-term.
The 3 Fundamentals of Car Washing
The three fundamental elements of proper car washing are:
Pressure washers are great at blasting mildew and grime off dirty concrete or aluminum siding, and high-pressure jets in car washes are just as good at spraying away dirt, dust, and tar, upping cleaning power overall.
The trick is to carefully calibrate the water pressure so that it only strips away the dirt—not your car’s paint or clear coat.
Soap works because it can mix with both water and water-unfriendly dirt, grease, and grime. But automotive detergents have to be carefully engineered and diluted before they’re fit for use on your car.
If a detergent is too harsh (like dish soap) or too concentrated, it can strip away your car’s protective waxes, degrade the clearcoat, and wear down and discolor exposed rubber or plastic.
Whether you’re washing by hand or rolling down a car wash tunnel, soft cloth and foam brushes (when engineered and maintained correctly!) are the final pieces of the puzzle.
The brushes’ physical motion, along with detergent suds and water coating them, works to scrub away all those loosened soils so your car can come out of the final rinse looking its best.
Missing a Step
Whether you’re outside on your driveway or rolling into a car wash tunnel, whenever you leave out any one of these three fundamentals, you’re going to sacrifice cleaning performance, efficiency, or safety.
- No high water pressure? Just like driveway washing, you’re going to have to scrub a lot more, use more detergent, and use a lot more low-pressure water to make up the difference.
- No detergent? The brushes aren’t going to be adequately lubricated, and the dirt and grime won’t readily dissolve into the water, so expect scratches and residue once the surface dries.
- No Brushes—soft cloth or otherwise? Your touchless or contactless car wash will need a lot more water pressure to scour away the dirt and a much stronger set of chemicals to break down stubborn soils. Or your car just isn’t going to get all that clean.
The Real Risks of Touchless Car Washing
If you’re still not convinced, we understand. No matter what they’re made of, brushes spinning against the side of your car seem like an obvious damage risk (more on that later).
But take a moment and consider the risks raised by car washes using excessive water pressure and overly aggressive detergents and degreasers.
If the water pressure coming in is cranked too high, it can damage your car’s topcoat directly or force moisture into your headlights, taillights, keypads, keyholes, and other areas that should stay moisture-free.
This can lead to condensation build-up, freezing issues, and electrical malfunctions.
Touchless car wash detergents are concentrated to a much higher degree than tunnel car wash detergents and may be supplemented with degreasers and other aggressive cleaners.
These chemical mixes can make up some lost cleaning performance from the missing brushes. Still, they’re also known to strip away vehicle wax, dull your topcoat and paintwork, and discolor exposed plastic and rubber surfaces over time.
The effect is severe enough that Mercedes-Benz and other high-end vehicle manufacturers specifically recommend that drivers avoid touchless car wash systems.
Balanced Car Washing, By Design
After decades spent developing and operating car wash equipment, buildings, and wash products, we’ve consistently found that a balanced approach is the right one to take. So we do our best to make the fundamentals look good!
Each Tommy’s Express tunnel is built for optimal car wash performance—including vehicle safety—with features that include:
A 130′ Long Wash Tunnel (depending on location), giving us room to space out equipment, let detergents dwell, and stack cars to keep the line moving so you don’t have to wait.
A Triple-Ring Presoak Arch that starts to break down the soils on your car as soon as you enter the tunnel, especially hard-to-clean surfaces like the windshield and backend.
Underbody Blasters to gently remove road salt and grime from beneath your car, holding off seasonal corrosion.
Soft-Cloth / Foam Cleaning Modules that spin at a high RPM and are absolutely flooded with body detergent and water while in use, keeping them (and your car) lubricated and scratch-free, no matter how many vehicles are cruising through the tunnel.
High- and Low-Pressure Cleaning and Rinse Nozzles, each carefully calibrated to be safe on your car and deliver the right water at the proper pressure for a professional-grade result with minimal waste.
Superb Optional Services like Tommy Guard, Body Wax, and Tire Gloss, each of which gives your vehicle an extra layer of protection and extra shine or luster, wash after wash.
Exacting Standards keep our equipment clean and working to its full potential, from the first wash of the day to the thousandth.
Give Us a Try Today!
You spent good money on your car, and you deserve a safe, reliable way to keep it clean and protected from the elements.
At Tommy’s Express, that’s what we do. Not with a touchless car wash system, but with the best, most efficient, and safest car wash design out there.
If you’ve never tried Tommy’s Express, we think you should! Trust us. It’s an experience you won’t get from any other car wash, especially when you download the app and join the TommyClub program for unlimited washes or pay-per-wash access in the APP lane. Just visit our homepage or your local Tommy’s Express location to learn more.