The Peddle guide to car washing

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8 min read

Truth: you need to wash the dirt, grime, and debris off your car. Dare: Find the best kind of car wash (for you). Below, we list three types of car washes––pros, cons, and car washing tips.

(do it yourself) DIY car washes

Ah, do it yourself, you pro you! DIY car washes can be an inexpensive and therapeutic regimen to your car-washing routine. While you’ll pay to invest in quality items (listed below), you are in charge of your car and giving it a chance to shine!

DO: Get a good wash mitt. Investing in this will help keep your car looking shiny. You don’t want your car to look dull, and a good wash mitt can really help with this.

DON’T: Wait years before washing your car. If you wait years, your car’s paint color will dull and fine scratches will show up much easier. When it comes to your car, keep it consistent!

DO: Use a 2-bucket system. You need soap, you need water. You do not need them together. Separate and keep grime out of your rinse bucket and your car shampoo lasting longer. Score.

DON’T: Wash a hot car. Instead, park your car in the shade and on an incline. Wash it there. A hot car will not only cause water to evaporate quickly, creating water spots, and the incline will help the water roll down the car as you spray.

DO: Wash tires and wheels first. You are one human washing one car. There’s no possible way to wash the water off your car before the water dries leaving water marks. Start with a smaller area on the car like your wheels and tires.

DON’T: Use a cheap car wash soap. This is important for keeping your car nice and clean, but also so you know that washing your car isn’t creating more problems for your car. This is the place to invest. The good news? Investing in car shampoo will still be cheaper than taking your car to the car wash.

DO: Invest in a good drying component. Whether you choose a towel or water blade, you need a piece of equipment made for two things, and two things only: your car and water.

Lastly, for those that are looking for a more hands-on approach, household items can be an alternative. One option for shallow scratches is using toothpaste as a DIY scratch removal. For deeper scratches, the sandpaper method is pretty popular and won’t run you a ton of money. Be mindful that while these are additional options, they aren’t guaranteed to provide you with a 100% perfected solution.

drive-thru car washes

Drive-thru car washes are the fastest, potentially cheapest option (before add-ons), but it’s important to note what can occur in the process. Is it worth it? You get to be the judge.

DO: Know that a drive-thru car wash is mostly safe––but can sometimes be the culprit of minor damage to your car, resulting in scratches and abrasions. Older style car washes with rotating bristle brushes and a newer car washing alternative (soft cloth scrubbers) can both lead to damage if not properly cleaned.

DON’T: Go into a drive-thru car wash following a car that just went off roading. The debris and dirt can stick to the bristle brushes or soft cloth scrubbers and end up on your car. It takes a few rounds of cleansing to get rid of that extra debris and dirt. If you have the time, circle back in 30 minutes or try another car wash.

DO: Investigate possible discounts. Use if you receive discounts from work, a membership, or other incentive. Some grocery stores give their customers a discount on car washes for being a member. Some professional health care or company packages include discounts on your visits. Take advantage.

DON’T: Bother with the add-ons. Spray on “wax” is as novelty as it sounds and fades in a few days. You’d be better off taking your car to a hand wash detail center and paying for the real thing.

DO: Sit back and take in the thrill of your car being washed. The joys of being a child (or taking your child) to the car wash leaves you with an intoxicating feeling. It’s pretty cool to be guided through a machine going to work on your car.

DON’T: Worry, it is safe. In contrast to above, sitting in your car as it goes through a car wash can feel a bit out of control and anxiety inducing. Drive-thru car washes are safe and there is always (at least) one human there watching what goes on.

hand wash detail centers

This type of car wash is the most expensive due to the labor, products, and time involved, but there is truly no comparison between a detail center and DIY or drive-thru car washes. These car washes can exceed $150, depending on whether you opt for specific care such as interior detailing. However, you can get everything you need in one place.

DO: Talk to the professionals there about the water reclamation program. This is to ensure that the water used is not used again for high-pressure washing.

DON’T: Assume all detail centers are the same. This isn’t the time to choose a car wash because they’re closest to your house. Do your due diligence and find the best place for you.

DO: See how each detail center prices. Part of finding the best fit is understanding your needs. If customer service isn’t as big of a deal as the best bang for your buck, look for options that cater to this. If you’re looking for a detail center that prides itself on its customer service team, that may be a better fit for you.

DON’T: Use car detailing if you can’t afford it. Cars should be detailed every four to six months, so it’s necessary to take your car in consistently. If you can’t afford it, there’s great options out there for you that won’t leave you down $150 every couple months.

DO: Know that detailing your car will extend its lifespan. This is essential if you’re wondering how much longer you can hold onto your ride. Details aren’t just for looking pretty, they’re also about keeping your engine clean and running smoothly. That way, when the time comes to sell your car to a company like Peddle, you’ll have a better understanding of how much your car is worth––because you’ve been keeping up with it.

DON’T: Be afraid to come with questions. Lots of questions. If it’s your first time at the detail center, you’re going to want to know the lay of the land. It’s your money, so you should leave the detail center satisfied and feeling knowledgeable about what you spent your money on. If the shop can’t answer your questions or doesn’t seem open to chat, it may not be the best fit for you.

DO: Ask around for references. If your group chat or family has a local detailing center they can refer you to, this is a great starting point. The guesswork takes the most time, so having a trusted person guide you to a shop can help alleviate some of the stress while you’re looking.

No matter what kind of car wash you choose, it’s up to you and your needs. Just know that if you’re worried about keeping your car in great condition to sell, Peddle will take your car— regardless of what it looks like. Rust included.