Do Automatic Car Washes Remove Wax?

Automatic car washes get the job done fast but they are not 100% safe. A common issue faced by car owners is the stripping of wax after the automatic wash. However, some people have good experiences as well. So, do automatic car washes remove wax, or it’s something else?

Car washes will over time remove the protective wax layer on the car. The unmaintained car wash brushes and harsh chemicals cut through the car wax layer, removing it after a few cleaning sessions.

Since some automatic car washes use poor-quality detergents, the car wash can remove wax from your car. For achieving maximum cleaning without friction, car washes use harsh detergents. Likewise, if your car wax is of average quality, you can’t expect it to stay put for long.

In this article, I’m going to discuss automatic washes and their impact on the wax on your car. And, why we need to use wax, soft-touch cleaning vs touch-less cleaning in this aspect, and much more.

Read on to find out.

Why Do Automatic Car Washes Remove Wax?

Most automatic car washes use high-pressure nozzles paired with harsh chemicals and unmaintained brushes to clean cars. Though these chemicals prove pretty effective in removing the dirt and grime from your car, they also strip the best waxes in seconds. 

The worst bit is, if you don’t apply a new coat of wax and keep taking your car to automatic washes, they will damage the paint too along with the wax.

Indeed, you must have hand-washed your car sometime. And you used detergents as well. So why didn’t hand-washing strip the wax?

When hand-washing your car, you are more likely to use quality detergents appropriate for this type of cleaning.

On the other hand, you’ll see some car owners cringe at the mention of an automatic car wash. That is because they have had some bad experiences. 

And instead of trying another automatic car wash station, they put the whole blame on the automatic washes.

If I sum this up, wax can be after washing removed for several reasons:

  • Use of harsh and cheap detergents
  • High-pressure washing – common in soft-touch car washes
  • Poor quality of wax
  • Unmaintained car wash brushes

It turns out you can’t blame the automatic wash. Maybe, in another automatic wash, the owner is using quality detergents. 

And in some cases, using a better quality car wax — just in case you haven’t considered this option before — can change the results.

There are many risks associated with visiting an automatic car wash. Read this article about automatic car wash accidents to learn more about it.

Now that you know what could be the cause of wax removal during the wash, it’s time to dig deeper and clear all your confusion.

Why Do We Wax Our Car, Anyway?

Waxing not only gives your car a great shine but also adds an extra layer for protection against harsh weather, bird droppings, salt (especially if you live near the seaside), etc. If you don’t wax your car once in three months, abrasive substances like dust can damage the clear coat and expose the paint below. 

A couple of decades before, neither car waxes were popular nor the concept of car waxing. However, today, it has become a norm. Especially when you purchase a modern and expensive car, you know any damage to the paint can be costly.

Regular waxing has several benefits:

  • Your car will have a shinning look
  • Long-lasting paint
  • Repels water
  • Protection against scratches
  • Keeps your car clean longer

Here’s a detailed article on why car wax is important.

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Does the Wax Quality Matter During Automatic Car Washing?

Not every time you can blame an automatic car wash or the detergents used in the washing process. If the wax you’re using is of low quality, even good detergents and medium pressure might strip it off during automatic washing.

And who knows, how many wash stations you have switched. Or, how much money you have squandered on those cheap waxes.

Make sure the wax you’re buying is:

  • Recommended by experts 
  • Product of a credible company
  • Used by other people in your circle and have shared good reviews

Besides the quality of the car wax, the car wash type also affects it. Let’s see which car wash type is safer for car wax.

Touch-less or Soft-Touch Wash, Which is Safer For Car Wax?

As far as your wax’s durability is concerned, a touch-less wash is safer. Soft-touch wash is more likely to strip it off. The cloth or plastic used in it may have contaminants and dirt from previous washings, and these elements can remove the wax and damage the paint.

Another thing to note here is soft-touch washes are high-pressure washes. And regardless of the quality of the wax, excessively high-pressure washing will take it down.

If you want to minimize risk, look for touch-less washes with quality, light, and minimum detergents. 

How Do I Find Out What Detergents Are Safe For Automatic Car Wash?

To find out what detergents your car wash uses, ask the car wash manager about the soap and detergents used in the facility. You can also ask the owner if their car wash strips the wax or not and what detergents they use.

On the other hand, if you can afford to compare different car wash stations, you can visit a few. After getting your car washed from three to four different stations, you’ll be able to decide which car station is the best option. 

Plus, this will solve a long-term problem. Since you are not supposed to take your car to an automatic car wash every week, you’ll use only safe and effective detergents during hand washing.

See how does a car wax usually lasts.

Should You Wax Your Car After Every Automatic Wash?

If you take your car to the automatic wash once in three months, only then you should wax it after every wash. Otherwise, if you do it once a month, this is an expensive option. And besides the cost of a quality wax, it’s a time taking process.

A good quality car wax can cost you up to $50. If you think it’s an easy and short process, then let me walk you through the steps of waxing a car in brief:

  • Rewash your vehicle by hands and remove wax from every part
  • Apply the wax on a pad
  • Gently rub it on the car in a circular motion
  • Remove the majority of wax using a microfiber towel or other soft cloth

Can You Auto Wash the Car After Waxing & Polishing?

Once you have put wax on your car, it’ll have a protective layer on it. After waxing your car, you can take out a hose and give it a blast. It’ll take most of the dirt off. A quick wash with wax-safe car shampoo will also do the job.

It’s normal to put wax on your car first and polish it before cleaning it with water. People have different preferences. Some wax it before cleaning while some do after it.

If your previous wax is good enough to withstand extended washing, you can put new wax after washing.

And if you want to ensure that the paint remains safe, or maybe you are not sure about the quality of the last wax you used, it’s better to put a new wax before driving it through an automatic wash.

Key Takeaways

  • Always get your car washed from an automatic wash that uses safe detergents
  • Avoid soft-touch washes if you can
  • Use only quality waxes
  • Try changing the car wash or wax if your car wax is stripped during the wash
  • Make sure you wax your car once in three months
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge