Touchless Car Washes, Not the Safer Option

Car Washing 101! What three factors work together to clean a car?

    1. Detergent Action
    2. Pressure
    3. Friction

For many years touchless (or ‘brushless’) car washes have maintained a reputation as a safer car wash option. Whether they’re set up as an inbay system where jets move over and around a parked car, or the car is parked and the driver uses a wand to manually blast the car clean, nothing but water touches the vehicle’s exterior.

But there’s a simple, critical problem with this approach: all touchless car washes, by definition, leave out one of the three key factors for car washing: Friction.

After decades of experience with car wash development, wash quality, and engineering, we’ve consistently found that leaving out physical contact with a car during the wash process is exactly like spraying plates with soapy water without scrubbing them down afterwards. It just isn’t enough to remove the stubborn, baked on dirt and grime that cars build up upon the road.

So touchless car wash operators must either settle for less-than-clean vehicles (and dissatisfied customers) OR overcorrect using the two factors they have remaining: DEGERGENT ACTION and PRESSURE.

This may mean a touchless car wash ramps up the water pressure to an extreme degree, scouring your paint and forcing water into places it shouldn’t go. Or, more often, it means the car wash starts using harsh, concentrated cleaning products injected into the water stream to aggressively break up dirt, mud, and bug smear… and eat at your car’s clear coat as well.

A Better, Balanced Car Washing Solution

The Tommy’s Express Car Wash system has been engineered specifically to balance all three cleaning factors and provide the safest wash possible.  Each element is modernized and has been extensively tested, targeted, and designed to do its job and do it right!

Our 130’ belt layout gives us the space and travel time to arrange equipment and give it the time it needs to work safely. This includes:

The Triple Presoak Arch

Three rings with a variety of nozzles to apply metered presoak dilutions set to different sections of your vehicle. The presoak has a few vital seconds to dwell, loosening up grime, before being safely washed away.

All-Around Friction Cleaning Modules

Did you know our brushes don’t actually use brushes? Instead all Tommy’s Express Car Washes use either a closed-cell foam or dense specialty soft cloth material that feels more or less like yarn, but far tougher and more unyielding. Both types are heavily lubricated with body soap on a constant basis during use. You can see for yourself—just watch and see how foamy each touch of our ‘brushes’ leaves your car as you pass through!

The heavy foam application encapsulates and lubricates all the dirt and sand coming off your vehicle, removing it without grinding it into the car’s surface or allowing it to embed in the car wash brushes, which are cleaned and dried daily.

Underbody Blasters

A steady stream of water is used to safely remove salt and other buildup from the lower portions of your vehicle, which can help prevent rusting and corrosion—especially during the winter in colder states.

High and Low Pressure Cleaning and Rinse Nozzles

These are spaced along the entire length of the car wash in a variety of positions on a number of different pieces of equipment. Each nozzle is carefully metered, used with a carefully monitored level of car wash product, and uses water appropriate for its role; fresh water for most functions, low-pressure reclaimed water for low priority wheel or rocker panel cleaning, and purified water for our spot-free rinse.

Awesome Extras

When you purchase our upper level wash packages you get more than a great clean! We include UV Body Protectant that works like sunscreen to prevent fading; Hot Wax, which over time provides an increasingly thick, durable protective layer with great shine; and our Tire Gloss which protects and moisturizes the rubber of your vehicles, keeping them looking clean and new!


When you visit Tommy’s Express you receive one of the most modern, carefully designed and executed car wash services available anywhere. And you get this service at express speeds with short wait times and the convenience of a tag-less monthly membership system controlled on-demand from the free Tommy’s Express app.

If you’ve considered Tommy’s Express in the past but weren’t sure if we were for you, we invite you to give us a try today and see for yourself how we compare!

Tommy’s Express Car Wash

25 thoughts on “Touchless Car Washes, Not the Safer Option

    1. Hi John, you should take a look at our TommyClub Unlimited Wash membership. You can find info here:
      For one monthly payment you get washes on-demand whenever you need one!

      We also offer a Family Plan for retail customers with three or more cars on the same membership, which automatically takes $2 / month off the price of the third (fourth, fifth, etc.) vehicle.

    1. I’m not familiar with that product and the manufacturer doesn’t seem to have any information available. The detergent products we use in the tunnel are designed to balance out to perfect neutral by the spot free rinse, starting with a high pH presoak and moving through low pH body soap. Any pH imbalance will result in very poor drying performance, so our managers keep a close eye on pH balance continuously.

  1. You don’t know much about physics. Water sprayed against the car is friction. Especially using high pressure water jets.

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for keeping us honest!
      You are, of course, correct. But in the context of a car wash removing the cloth elements would require a vast increase to the water pressure applied in order to achieve the same cleaning performance/friction. That level of pressure comes with risks if not executed precisely, especially when it comes to vehicles with existing rust spots or other paintwork issues.

    2. I agree with you. Tommy seems not to know anything about physics. Water spraying against car is a safer form of friction compared to a brush rubbing vigorously against your car. My car got some marks from one of the so called soft touch friction car wash. Touchless is better especially now that majority of them are using environmental friendly chemicals.

  2. I have a Honda Odyssey Handicapped Conversion Van (with the lowered floor and built in ramp). I have not been able to take it through car washes that pull the van through because the mechanism that pulls it through would damage the side fender flares at the bottom of the van (that covers the ramp area). I have been having to take my van to a car wash where I have to clean and wipe it down myself. Being a female over 60 makes this very difficult. In looking at the pictures of your car wash it looks like it is a flat belt that the car rides on. Would I be able to put my handicapped van through Tommy’s Express Car Wash? If so, I would be VERY HAPPY to visit your car wash!! Thank you.

    1. Hi, Janice! Thank you so much for reaching out! We cannot make any guarantees here, but the clearance at our sites is around 3 inches, so we are very confident that we’ll be able to help you out. Stop on by and our team members on-site would be happy to make sure your van will safely make it through. Hope to see you soon!

  3. I have a Tesla and was told that the paint should be cleaned with a brushless or touchless wash only. Is your cleaning system soft enough for a Tesla’s “soft paint”

    1. Good morning Craig,
      Please consult your owner’s manual. I personally don’t have experience putting Tesla’s through our system but while researching I’ve come across warnings included in certain Tesla manuals that only touch-less car washes should be used, and any damaged caused by express washes will not be covered by your warranty.
      We stand by our equipment 100% and after five years of washing my Chevy it looks good as new. But, if Tesla isn’t building their cars with the same paint durability spec as everyone else, we definitely don’t want to be responsible for damaging such a super-cool ride.
      I hope that helps, wish I could give you a more authoritative answer!

  4. I have a Wrangler with 20×12 with 35’s with a 3 inch lift. It doesn’t fit into most car wash places. Would it fit in yours?

    1. HI Haylie, our max height is 84 inches. I’m not 100% sure on the tires but I would be surprised if they didn’t fit. Our belts are 30″ wide on each side, and I’ve seen some pretty massive trucks ride on through.

  5. What about wheels. Are you able to ensure low profile wheels are not left with curb rash from the method you use to move the car through? Can you accommodate all widths?

    1. We developed the Tommy Transporter Dual Belt Conveyor, which can accommodate any vehicle to a clearance of 2.25 inches (or less, depending on whether 1″, 1.5″, or 2″ flights are installed. 1.5″ is standard). The conveyor and widened arches also accommodate all street legal widths for standard cars, trucks, etc. Even duallys can ride through, though some care should be taken while loading these to ensure proper positioning.

  6. I have a rack for my husband’s power chair on the back of my Ford Expedition. Does that make a difference? I know there are some car washes u can’t go to because of it.

    1. Hi, there! That is a great question! While we have had other vehicles make it through the wash just fine with a power chair rack, we recommend heading over to the nearest Tommy’s Express Car Wash and having our team onsite check it out. They are awesome and will be able to help figure out if your vehicle will make it safely through. In the end, we encourage all of our guests to make the best decision for your vehicle– you know it best.

  7. I have vinyl decals on the doors and hood of my car, will your car wash lift those decals, or is it safe for me to take my vehicle there?

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