Washing your car may seem like an ordinary part of your weekly or monthly routine, but there are several ways you can make the most out of washing your vehicle. The result? It looks clean and brand new for as long as possible.
There are many commercial options for washing your vehicle, and you can easily buy the supplies you need to wash it at home. However you decide to handle your car washes in the future, keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of every wash.
Commercial Car Washes
The most common type of commercial car wash is a standard tunnel-style wash that uses water jets and brushes to clean your vehicle. The driver pulls his or her vehicle into the tunnel track, puts the car in neutral, and the car wash guides the vehicle through the different cleaning devices.
Automatic Washes Are Fast and Cheap
An automatic car wash is a fast and relatively effective way to clean your vehicle, but it may not leave it entirely clean. Additionally, hard bristles or damaged brushes can actually scratch away at your vehicle’s paint and lead to rusting.
Ultimately, you get what you pay for when you drive through a traditional automatic car wash, and repeated automatic washings may cause expensive damage to your vehicle’s paint job.
Some commercial car washes have installed “touchless” washing systems that do not use brushes or bristles to physically touch the car. Instead, a touchless car wash uses a series of high-powered water jets and cleaning agent sprays to clean your vehicle.
While a touchless system is a viable alternative to traditional tunnel-style car washes with brush-based cleaning systems – which may damage your paint or sensitive parts like mirrors and antennae – it may not leave your car completely clean and spot free.
A professional detailing service will undoubtedly offer the best cleaning service, but it will also cost the most. A detailer will clean your vehicle meticulously by hand and will often offer various additional services, such as interior cleaning, cosmetic repairs, scratch and dent repairs, and window and headlight cleaning.
If you want an extensive cleaning, or your vehicle hasn’t had a proper, thorough washing in a long time, paying for a professional detailing service may be worth the expense.
Washing Your Own Car
Many commercial car washes offer tiered pricing for customers to combine exterior cleaning, interior cleaning, waxing and other services into a single wash session. While some commercial car wash companies offer membership discounts and frequent buyer programs, these options can be expensive, especially compared to the cost of washing your vehicle yourself. Washing your own car gives you complete control, and helps you save money.
Self-Service Wash Stations
Some commercial washing establishments offer self-service car wash stations. These buildings usually feature enclosed parking spaces with extendable tools that apply soap and water. A driver will park in a washing space and then put money into the system to pay for a certain amount of time (usually a few dollars for several minutes of washing time).
Next, the driver applies soap, scrubs the car with the supplied brush or sponge, and then rinses the vehicle with the water sprayer. Some self-service stations offer a wax coating spray as well, but these sprays rarely compare to a professional waxing job and may actually cause more water-spotting.
Washing Your Car at Home
Of course, if you plan to wash your car yourself, you can save even more money by skipping the self-service station and washing your vehicle at home. A hose attached to your home’s outdoor spigot with an adjustable head attachment will allow you to spray grime, mud and dirt off your vehicle with a high-powered stream of water. You can then adjust the sprayer for a gentler mist to rinse the car at the end.
If you plan to wash your car at home, make sure you research and purchase the car soap and other supplies needed. You should only ever wash the exterior of your car with a sponge or soft cloth to avoid scraping or damaging your paint and windows.
It’s also important for Mesa, AZ residents to follow the Mesa car washing guidelines the city has established. Due to the low annual rainfall in Mesa, the city’s water and sewer systems are more vulnerable to contamination from cleaning agents and runoff from dirty vehicles.
You’ll need to use phosphate-free detergents sparingly and make sure the wastewater doesn’t enter the city sewer system. The best method for washing at home is by hand using only water and a soft sponge.
Car Cleaning Hacks for You to Try
The first step in washing your car in Mesa is to determine how extensive you need to be in your cleaning. Engine or undercarriage cleaning may require an appointment with a professional detailer, so that you don’t inadvertently violate the city’s car washing ordinances. You may also be able to wash your engine or undercarriage at a self-service station that allows this type of cleaning.
There are several car cleaning hacks that can make your car look even better, and some of them might surprise you:
- Did you know that a hair conditioner with lanolin creates a just-waxed shine and even repels rain? Apply hair conditioner to your vehicle after washing and then rinse clean for a spectacular shine.
- You can also use window cleaner and an old pair of pantyhose to make your headlights shine again. Over time, headlights become cloudy and may actually pose a safety risk when driving at night.
- If you’re looking for a simple window and windshield cleaner, mix one part household ammonia with four parts water in a spray bottle. Keep the spray bottle in your vehicle and spray and wipe clean whenever your windows or windshield become dirty.
- It’s also a good idea to check your wiper blades regularly. If your wipers are dirty, they’ll streak your windshield instead of cleaning it. You can clean the blades with a mixture of a 1/4 cup ammonia and 1 quart of cold water. Soak a soft cloth or paper towel in this solution, wipe it along both blades and then use a dry cloth to wipe off the solution before lowering the blades back into place.
Protect Your Vehicle from the Arizona Sun
While Mesa residents don’t have to worry about rainfall too often, the Arizona sun can pose serious problems for any vehicle here. Intense heat and direct sunlight can damage your vehicle’s exterior as well as the interior. Grime, dust and salt that stays on your car for too long will bake in the sun and cause additional damage.
Your vehicle’s dashboard receives the brunt of the sunlight that enters your vehicle through the windshield, so consider investing in sun shades. Sunlight can also damage the cloth or leather of your vehicle’s seats and cause them to discolor or fade over time.
Learn more car care tips for dealing with the Arizona sun by visiting our previous article: