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Is the Super Car Wash Worth the Cash?

Is the Super Car Wash Worth the Cash?

After a long, hard, and messy winter, one of the first things to do is to get the salt and slush washed off your car. At the first sign of spring and warm weather, lines at the car wash can get pretty long. While waiting to literally and figuratively wash the winter away, you may wonder what level of car wash to purchase.  There are so many options beyond the basics and while they may sound exciting and important, who knows what they really do. Do you really need a triple action hot wax and super shine tire spray? As it turns out, the answer is probably not.

So what is in a basic wash?  Most basic car washes provide a rinse followed by some sort of non-detergent soap, a light scrubbing with non-abrasive cloths (you know those spinning and hanging things that look like a monster about to devour your car), another rinse, and a drying cycle. Some basic washes also include an undercarriage spray as well. This is everything your car needs to rid itself of road grime and other environmental elements. Sealants, protective coatings, and tire shines can help protect your vehicle, but not in the form of a $3 upgrade at the local car wash. If you want your car to be really clean and protect it from the elements, you will have to use some elbow grease or take your car to a professional detailer.

But don’t I need wax to protect my finish? Modern cars have a urethane clear coat system. This coat serves as a hard finish that reduces the need for waxing as opposed to cars that were made up through the 1980’s.  Wax used to penetrate the porous paint that was used on older vehicles, but now it sits on top of the clear coat and acts as an added barrier. This means that you need to apply wax far less frequently. If you don’t really care about the sheen of your car, you might not need to wax your car at all. Although, most experts seem to agree that waxing your car 2-4 times a year is a reasonable solution for regular maintenance and protection of your car’s clear coat and paint. If you want to have a showroom shine all the time, you will have to apply most waxing products every 4-6 weeks.  However, the carwash version of a wax job does not provide this level of protection and probably will only last until the next rainy day.  If you want to add protection to your car’s clear coat by yourself, make sure to purchase a “clear coat safe” wax for the job.

Overall, you are better off saving the money and avoiding the upgrades and add-ons at the carwash. If you want to splurge on your car, a better use of your cash would be to take your car to the carwash more often (several experts suggest once a week) to keep the grime from building-up.  This is a far better use of your resources than spraying extra chemicals on your car.

About The Author

Pedals and Pumps

PedalsandPumps provides direct, honest information about car maintenance and repair. We provide money and time saving tips for readers who want to maximize their dollar and simplify their auto owning experience.


If you have lost a cap on your tire inflation valve, mention it at your next oil change and the technician will probably replace it for your for free. More ways to tell if you have a tire pressure issue.