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How to Use an Automated Car Wash: 7 Simple Steps for First Time Customers

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If your idea of a pleasant Saturday does not involve a water hose, a bucket of bubbles, and a sponge, you might prefer to use an automated car wash to clean your vehicle. Car washes are widely available and very simple to use. For a few dollars, you can have your vehicle looking squeaky clean in a couple of minutes. Consider these tips before using an automated car wash for the first time.

7 Things to Know about a Car Wash

  1. 1

    Locate a car wash. Many gas stations have attached or detached garages that house automated car washes. In fact, many gas stations offer car washes at discounted rates to drivers who purchase their fuel there. In some areas, car washes can also be found as free standing businesses.

    car wash entrance
    Quite often you can find a car wash entrance behind a gas station or convenience store

  2. 2

    Drive up to the payment station. Most automated car washes have a station, similar to a fast food drive-thru window, that allows drivers to select the type of car wash they want and pay for it. A car wash may offer three or four different packages ranging from a basic wash to a wash that includes a coating of wax and detailing of your vehicle’s tires. Select the type of car wash that you want and pay for it.

  3. 3

    Pull up to the opening of the car wash. Look for any signs or arrows that indicate where you are supposed to stop your vehicle. Automated car washes vary in function.

  4. 4

    Most car washes require drivers to drive forward until their vehicle’s front tires are aligned with a track system that will guide their car through the wash. Lights and arrows will notify you when you have successfully placed your vehicle onto this track. Put your vehicle in park if it has an automatic transmission or neutral if it has a manual transmission. Take your foot off of the brake. Do not apply the emergency brake.

    automated car wash
    All the instructions in a car wash are always clearly printed and accompanied by pictures (Tony Cyphert)

  5. 5

    It is very important to roll up all your vehicle’s windows while going through an automated car wash. If you have small children in your car, it might be wise to lock the windows so that they do not accidentally get rolled down during the car wash.

  6. 6

    When the car wash begins, your vehicle will be moved forward by the track system. As the vehicle’s driver, you are not required to do anything during this time. Automated car washes can be quite loud and you may feel your car shake a bit as the brushes and water jets move back and forth over your vehicle.

    automated car wash
    Let the track system move your car forward and enjoy the ride (Tony Cyphert)

  7. 7

    After the wash cycle is finished, you will be notified when it is safe to exit the garage area by a sign or flashing light. Slowly exit the car wash, exerting caution for other vehicle or pedestrians, especially if the car wash was located in close proximity to gas station.

Using an automated car wash might be a little more expensive than completing the chore at home, but it is much more convenient.

Finally, if you have ever wondered how an automated car wash works, this is a video for you.

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