The pros and cons of using automatic car washes - Ceramic Pro (2023)

Automation makes everything better - or does it? While it's convenient that machines and technology automate many of our daily tasks, washing our cars can leave permanent damage. The automatic car wash has been around for quite some time. In fact, it is the leading source of normalcyroutine car washes in North America.

But is visiting a car wash a smart idea? Are there some pros and cons of using them to keep your car clean? Is it better to hand wash your vehicle at home or take it to one?professional detailsevery few weeks? We will answer these questions in this article - and the next articles will follow soon. But first, let's examine the facts about automatic car washes.

Table of Contents

(Video) Why Not to Use an Automatic Car Wash

What is an automatic car wash?

A misconception in the world of car detailing is that all automatic car washes are identical. That's just not true. In fact, there are several types of automatic washing techniques and devices, each offering a different way of accomplishing the same task - removing dirt from your vehicle.

The pros and cons of using automatic car washes - Ceramic Pro (1)

There are basically two types of automated car wash systems in North America – touchless and friction-based.

Touchless car wash

Thattouchless car washis the most user-friendly and less likely to damage your vehicle. This system usually features an automated in-bay system where the driver pulls into a wash bay and the system rolls over their stationary vehicle to wash it. Some of these touchless car wash systems connect the wheels to a series of gears and a conveyor system that move the vehicle through the touchless process — sometimes including an underbody wash.

Friction based car wash

The second type of automated car wash is the friction-based facility found at a gas station. It uses a series of industrial-grade spinning machines with a cloth-like material used to wash the surface. These materials are built to last - not to the gentle application of force. As such, the potential forswirl tracks, paint chips and other damage to the vehicle's paint surface is greater than the touchless or hand wash system.

There are hybrid automated car washes that use a combination of non-contact and friction materials. The main difference with these systems is the detergents used to wash the vehicle. The hybrid typically uses a lower pH car soap than the non-touch machines.

(Video) Automatic Car wash || Touchless || How it works || Pros and Cons #LifeinCanada #BeckyBlur

Because non-contact machines rely on high-pressure water, the shampoo needs to be more alkaline to loosen surface buildup, dirt, and contaminants. Hybrids that use the wash wheel or strips can "scrub" the car clean with less harsh soaps.

What is a tunnel washing system?

The most popular automated car wash is one that you can find at gas stations or local car washes. It's called Tunnel Wash - simply because you drive the vehicle through a tunnel (with the tires connected to a conveyor system). There are somecommercial car washSpots where your car is sent through the tunnel car wash before the wash is completed with hand drying or the application of protectant.

The pros and cons of using automatic car washes - Ceramic Pro (2)

This is your prototypical friction-based automatic car wash. If you listen carefully, you can hear this Mopar SRT screaming in pain.

There are three common tunnel car washes - an express tunnel (which completes the entire washing and drying process), a flex-serve tunnel (which only washes the exterior of the vehicle - usually using touch-free methods), and the full-service tunnel (including applying paint). protective spray, wax or sealers in a final optional step).

The pros and cons of an automatic car wash

If you're thinking about using an automatic car wash to keep your vehicle clean, there are a few pros and cons to consider. First, let's be clear that we do not or do not recommend (is that even a word) the use of automatic car washes.

We always guide Ceramic Pro customers to the tried-and-true two-bucket handwash method - but if you can't wash your car at home, the touch-free automatic car wash is your best option.

(Video) DO YOU REALLY NEED A CERAMIC COATING ON YOUR CAR? Is Ceramic Pro really worth it?!

Here are the benefits of using Auto Car Wash

PROFI:Significantly better cleaning than in previous years. New technologies are being incorporated into today's automated car washes. They wash a vehicle better and more extensively than in previous years.

PROFI:Non-contact systems reduce possible paint damage. The high pressure washers are better than the friction based systems. If you can't hand wash your vehicle with high-quality microfiber media (like a wash mitt), the touchless system is best.

The pros and cons of using automatic car washes - Ceramic Pro (3)

If you want to use an automatic car wash, the touchless system like this one is really the best option.

PROFI:Fast, fast and efficient. Anytime you can have your car washed in minutes - that's a plus.

Here are the disadvantages of using Auto Car Wash

CON:Incorrect use can damage your car. As experts in vehicle paint protection, we usually focus on damaging your clear coat. But automatic car washes can also damage other parts of your car. In fact, there are some that have been known to rip off antennas, side mirrors, and even front or rear bumpers.

CON: Harsh chemicalsand car soaps. As discussed above, some automatic car washes use an industrial strength alkaline-fortified degreasing shampoo. These formulations are great for removing wax, paint sealers and even bird droppings, bug guts and tree sap. But this aggressive soap leaves marks on unprotected paintwork. In fact, over time, it can begin to eat away at the clear coat, which can lead to oxidation of the paint, corrosion, and eventually rust.

(Video) FIND A CAR WASH NEAR ME : What to Look for When Choosing a Car Wash

CON:water stains. Car washes with super hair dryers are also prone to water stains. Most facilities use municipal service water - which is unfiltered and contains higher levels of limescale or other minerals. When water dries on the surface, these deposits dry quickly, leaving dried mineral deposits that are difficult to remove.

Best practices for using a car wash

If you have applied paint protection film or ceramic coating to your vehicle and cannot hand wash your vehicle, using a touchless car wash is the best option. There are several waterless washing solutions that are also good alternatives, but the high-pressure washing system is what we would recommend.

The best touchless car wash is one where you drive into an open bay and use a pressure washer. These spots often have a brush that you can use to paint. However, the soap used may contain harsh chemicals used to remove road grime.

The pros and cons of using automatic car washes - Ceramic Pro (4)

If you use this type of car wash, here are three simple tips:

Bring your car wash supplies. You can use a high-pressure car wash – and in most cases, bring your own washing supplies. For the best car wash experience, bring a 5-gallon bucket, some automotive-specific car shampoo (pH neutral with no wax if you have a ceramic coating or PPF), a microfiber wash mitt, and a drying cloth.

Use the high-pressure water to pre-rinse the vehicle, fill your wash bucket and rinse. Do not use the hand brush - as this is likely to scratch the surface.

When you're done washing the car, use a special microfiber towel to dry itcar readystill in the bay – and without direct sunlight.

(Video) Ceramic Pro 9H Coating Review - The Truth

Having a quality paint protection solution like Ceramic Pro 9H nanoceramic coatingor Kavaca Paint Protection Film is a great way to keep your vehicle's finish clean, damage free and in its original factory condition. These high quality materials can be applied to car paint, headlight covers and in the case of ceramic coatings, wheels, windows and even PPF.

If you would like to learn more about ceramic coatings orpaint protection film, click on the link below and request a free estimate from a professional car showroom near you.


What are the pros and cons of ceramic coating? ›

On the positive side, ceramic coating can help to prolong the life of your paint job and make it look better for longer. It can also help to protect your car from minor scratches and scuffs. On the downside, ceramic coating can be expensive, and it may require more maintenance than regular paint jobs.

What are the disadvantages of ceramic coating? ›

Disadvantages of the Procedure
  • Duration of the procedure (it may take much more time than waxing).
  • Price (ceramic coating is an attribute of an expensive car. Not everyone can afford to apply ceramics).
  • Difficult to remove (ceramic coating doesn't last forever.
23 Sept 2021

What is ceramic coating at the carwash? ›

Ceramic coating is a chemical polymer composed of silicon dioxide solutions applied onto the car's exterior for protection. When applied, the ceramic coating bonds with the paint, creating an added layer of protection. It also gives your car a noticeable shine.

Is it worth having a car ceramic coated? ›

Ceramic coatings are expensive, there's no getting away from that. So the question has to be asked, are they worth the money? For many people, yes they are. If you are buying the car and going to keep your car for three or more years, it can be a great investment.

Can ceramic coating mess up your car? ›

Ceramic coatings can't damage your paint, regardless of what you do. However, improper application can leave streaks, high spots, hazing, and horrible reflections.

Will ceramic coating hurt my car? ›

A ceramic coating is definitely good for your car, as it provides light protection as well as a permanent candy-gloss shine. However, you should never DIY a ceramic coating, since it requires a fairly skilled professional to apply properly.

Are ceramic car washes worth it? ›

Not only is a Ceramic Coating a far better protection than any wax or sealant, but if you look at the average cost versus taking your car somewhere and getting it waxed for a $100 every three to four weeks, that adds up to $1,300 plus the time you have to take your car to and from a detail shop.

How long does ceramic coating last on a car? ›

The Typical Lifespan of Ceramic Car Coating

For the most part, ceramic coatings last between two and five years. In some cases, they can last up to a decade, but this is pretty rare. However, there are many factors that affect their lifespan and might force you to replace yours sooner than you'd expect.

Is there anything better than a ceramic coating? ›

Graphene coatings are more durable and offer better protection against UV rays and chemicals than ceramic coatings. They also last longer, with most manufacturers offering a warranty of up to five years.

Is automatic car wash ceramic coating worth it? ›

Is Ceramic Coating at Car Wash Worth It? The ceramic coating itself is a great investment for those who truly care for their car. It offers a great advantage that normal waxing cannot: Makes your vehicle easy to wash and clean because of its hydrophobic nature.

How often should you get a ceramic car wash? ›

This allows the coating to fully cure on your vehicle's surface. Once the 7 days have passed, we recommend that you clean your car at least twice a month to prevent contaminant build-up. Wondering how to wash your car after ceramic coating and what wash method to use to avoid scratches?

How often wash car with ceramic coating? ›

Environmental materials chip away at the ceramic covering without being washed regularly, causing it to lose its hydrophobicity over time. Washing helps protect and maintain your ceramic coating, that is why you should wash your car every 1-2 weeks.

Can you wax over ceramic coating? ›

Just to set the record straight, yes, you can apply car wax to a ceramic coated surface. But it's going to cause far more issues than solutions. Routine cleaning, garage storage, and applying a high-grade SiO2 ceramic booster spray on top of your coating has proven time and time again to be the best form of protection.

How much is a 5 year ceramic coating? ›

Parting Shots
PRO Ceramic CoatingDIY Ceramic CoatingPRO Wash/Wax/Polish
$11,800 (install + 5 years of upkeep)$940 (product + 5 years of upkeep)$13,800 (install + 5 years of upkeep)
3 Jun 2019

Does ceramic coating remove scratches? ›

Do Ceramic Coatings Fill Scratches? The short answer is yes. The properties of ceramic paint coating make it so that it seeps into swirl marks and scratches on your car's vehicle. This does not actually repair the paint finish, though, and does not even visually hide the damage, unless the damage is extremely small.

What happens if my car gets wet after ceramic coating? ›

Ceramic coatings effectively repel water. These surfaces cause water to condense into beads, but the coating is so durable that these little balls of water roll off the automobile and pick up dirt as they go. Every time it rains, the coating's hydrophobic features ensure your car's paint gets cleaned!

How can I tell if my car has been ceramic coated? ›

If you want to know if a car has a ceramic coating, take the car for a drive. Spray the car with water; as you increase the speed of the vehicle, water beads will gather into streams that will flow from your vehicle. In the absence of ceramic coating, the drops of water will cling to the car's surface.

Does a ceramic coating mean you never have to wash your car? ›

Some people may think you don't need to wash your car after applying a ceramic coating, but this far from the truth. A ceramic-coated car repels water and sheds dirt and debris more easily than an uncoated car, helping it look cleaner for longer, but it will still get dirty, and it still needs to be washed.

How many washes does ceramic coating last? ›

With proper maintenance, most ceramic coatings will last 2 to 5 years or 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

What kind of car wash is best for ceramic coating? ›

When it comes to ceramic car wash soaps, Nexgen Ceramic Car Wash Soap, Mr. Gold Foaming Car Wash Soap from Chemical Guys, and Car Wash from Armor All have my highest all-around ratings. All these three products are concentrated, wash the surface extremely well, and protect the car's paint.

Does ceramic coating keep car shiny? ›

As seen above, ceramic coatings can keep your car cleaner, safer, and shinier for the long term compared to traditional wax and polish products. Thanks to their hydrophobic properties, dirt and water have a more challenging time adhering to the car's surface.

Is there a 10 year ceramic coating? ›

One Layer Ceramic Coating

With Wax is Dead® Ultimate, ceramic coating applications are quicker than ever. Ultimate uses our proprietary one-layer formula to provide 10 years of warranted durability, outstanding gloss levels and slickness, extreme hydrophobicity, and advanced chemical resistance.

What is the best protective coating for cars? ›

So what's the ultimate paint protection for your car? We recommend using ceramic coating due to its longevity. Waxes and sealants need constant application and aren't usually applied often enough to offer constant protection. Ceramic coating lasts a long time and offers the best protection.

Why car manufacturers do not do ceramic coating? ›

Cost and problematic. Maybe not the cost of the material, but the dowtime during the curing process. That would 12 to 48 hours to the production time, olus they need to be stored in a clean space for that period of time.

What is the real cost of ceramic coating? ›

In India, the cost for a good ceramic coating service may cost somewhere around 20-70K for cars. Depending on the years of warranty it will provide.

How long does a ceramic coat last on a car? ›

The Typical Lifespan of Ceramic Car Coating

For the most part, ceramic coatings last between two and five years. In some cases, they can last up to a decade, but this is pretty rare. However, there are many factors that affect their lifespan and might force you to replace yours sooner than you'd expect.

Does ceramic coating scratch easily? ›

Ceramic Coatings offer hard protection and they will help prevent some of this marring and swirl marks, but Ceramic Coatings are not scratch proof. It only takes one bad wash to put small scratches into your vehicle's coating.

Is ceramic coating high maintenance? ›

It's not a magic force field though, and will require regular maintenance to keep it looking and performing its best. It will also degrade over time and require top ups, or perhaps even re-application after a longer period of time. Ceramic coatings are best applied by reputable professional detailers.

How often should you wash a ceramic coated car? ›

A ceramic coating is a proven paint protection solution. However, it shouldn't be assumed that you don't need wash it frequently. Every two weeks is recommended.

Can I use spray wax on ceramic coating? ›

The best way to spruce up a dull, ceramic coating is to use a spray wax that's free of polishing agents, like Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax or ICE Spray Wax, to add an additional layer of protection and shine to your finish.

How many days does ceramic coating last? ›

Basic ceramic coating lasts up to a year, standard ceramic coatings have a lifespan of 3 years, while elite ceramic coating can last up to five years. But if you use your car daily, even if it's cleaned on a regular basis, it is unlikely to reach five years before the vehicle requires a ceramic coating replacement.

How long does ceramic coating stay? ›

HOW LONG DO CERAMIC COATINGS LAST? Ceramic coatings are extremely durable and can last anywhere from a few months to years. Professional-grade ceramic coatings claim to last up to 5 years.

What happens if it rains after ceramic coating? ›

Ceramic coatings effectively repel water. These surfaces cause water to condense into beads, but the coating is so durable that these little balls of water roll off the automobile and pick up dirt as they go. Every time it rains, the coating's hydrophobic features ensure your car's paint gets cleaned!

Can you polish a car after ceramic coating? ›

While you should never use a car polish after applying a ceramic coating, you should always use one before. This is because polishing your clear coat is a restorative process that removes scratches, swirls, oxidation and damage from everyday wear and tear.

What should you not do after ceramic coating? ›

First and foremost, one of the most important things you need to know about ceramic protection is that it's not recommended to wash your car for up to 7 days after applying the coating. This allows the coating to fully cure on your vehicle's surface.


1. If You Use an Automatic Car Wash You’re Stupid
(Scotty Kilmer)
2. Automatic Touchless Car Washes Can Still Cause Damage!
(Pristine Auto Detailing)
3. What is Ceramic Pro? Adam Cote Gives You an In Depth Analysis | Official
(Ceramic Pro World's Leading Protective Coatings)
4. The dark side of ceramic coatings! What you need to know
(Hawk Pro Detailing)
5. Ceramic Pro Sport vs Non Ceramic coated car: How well does it work
6. Ceramic Pro Sport 1 Year Coating Review - The Truth
(Should I Get It Reviews)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 02/28/2023

Views: 6171

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.