7 Simple Reasons Why You Should Turn Off Your Car In a Car Wash

I get it – you’re in a hurry. You’re trying to save time by driving through the car wash while you’re on your way to somewhere else.

But did you know that it’s actually better for your car if you turn off your engine while it’s going through the car wash?

Shutting off the car during a car wash conserves gasoline and avoids costly repairs in the future. When you wash your car with the engine running, you risk short-circuiting the electrical system and damaging the engine. Plus, it’s really important to conserve energy whenever we can.

This article explains why you need to turn off your car while in the car wash.

I will go over the reasons in detail to hopefully change your mind the next time you’re in a hurry.

Do You Turn Off Your Car in a Car Wash?

It is a good idea to turn off your car in a car wash. Turning your car off in a car wash can help extend the life of your engine and other components by reducing wear and tear, and it can help improve fuel economy.

When you turn off your car in a car wash, you’re ensuring that the engine doesn’t suck in any water through the air filter.

This can kill the engine or shorten its lifespan.

Turning off your car in a car wash is simply a brilliant idea all around. So next time you’re washing the vehicle, remember to turn off your engine before putting it in neutral and letting the conveyor belt do its job.

Reasons Why You Have To Turn Off Your Car in a Car Wash

Check any car forum, and you’ll see that turning off your car during a car wash is a hot topic.

People have all sorts of different opinions about it, but I will be discussing some valid reasons to do it.

Safer for You and Your Car

The most compelling reason to turn off your car during an automatic wash is safety.

You don’t want to risk getting electrocuted, do you? There are also dangers of water getting into the electrical system and causing damage.

This damage can be expensive to repair, and it can also be dangerous for you and your passengers.

So, it’s just not worth the risk to leave your car running during a car wash.

For example, if the water gets into your car’s ECU (Engine Control Unit), it can cause all sorts of problems.

This microchip controls the engine, and if it gets damaged, your car could stall in the middle of the road.

That’s not a situation you want to be in.

Sensors are another part of the car that can be damaged by water. If a sensor gets wet, it could start giving you erroneous information.

For example, the sensor might tell you that your engine is overheating when it’s not.

If you ignore the warning and keep driving, this could lead to costly damage.

Good for the Environment

I think we can all agree that we need to do our part in taking care of the environment.

And one small way we can do that is by turning our cars off when we’re getting them washed.

This reduces the wasted fuel and emissions that come from an idle vehicle.

So every time you choose to turn your car off during a car wash, you’re helping the environment just a little bit.

Though the fuel savings from turning off your car may be minimal, it’s still a good habit to develop, and it sends a signal to others that you’re environmentally conscious.

Some Car Wash Establishments Require You To Shut Off the Car

Many car wash establishments will require their customers to turn their cars off and will post signs that say, “please shut off your car.”

When I see these types of signs, I mind them. It’s not too difficult to turn your car off, and it’s a smart idea to do so in a car wash.

Sometimes, they do this to avoid liability issues. If there’s a power outage or something else that causes the machines to stop running, you don’t want your car rolling into expensive equipment or another vehicle.

If that were to happen, you or the business could be liable, and that is something you want to avoid.

So, if you see a sign that says “please shut off your car,” take the time to do so. It’s for your safety.

Reduces Wear and Tear on Your Car

This one might not be as obvious, but it’s true.

When getting your car washed, all of the moving parts are working hard. Giving your car a rest during the wash will actually help extend its life.

And I’m not talking about the big metal parts like the engine or transmission – I’m talking about things like timing belts, hoses, and fluids.

Those things will last just a little longer if you turn your car off during the wash.

Turning Off Your Car Is Common Courtesy

The car wash is a service industry. Like any other business that offers a service, certain etiquette rules should be followed.

One of them is to turn off your car when it’s being serviced.

The people working on your car do so in a very tight space.

It’s easy for them to accidentally hit a button on your car that turns it on, and then they’re in the line of fire.

The last thing anyone wants is for someone to get hurt because of something that could have easily been avoided.

So, please turn off your car when you get to the car wash for the safety of the people working on your vehicle.

Reduce Noise Pollution

This is another benefit that might not be as obvious as the others. But if you think about it, the car wash can be pretty loud.

All of those machines running at once can be pretty overwhelming. And all of that noise can be harmful to your ears. 

Noise is not an issue with smaller petrol cars or EVs, but it can be for big trucks and SUVs that run on diesel engines.

So, it’s a good idea to turn yours off if you can.

It’s a Good Habit To Get Into

Turning off your car at the car wash is just a good habit to get into.

It is a small gesture that says you are environmentally conscious, and it’s also good for your car.

Imagine if you were to go through a car wash with your engine running. Not only would you be wasting gas, but you’d also be wearing out your parts.

This is also why some car washes offer to take your car through the wash for you.

They want to make sure that your engine is off and the gear is neutral to avoid surprises.

That translates to a longer life for your car and fewer liability issues for the wash.

Do You Put Your Car in Neutral in a Car Wash?

Most car wash establishments advise people to put their cars in neutral and shut off the engine. This minimizes the amount of time your car is in contact with the cleaning equipment and reduces the chances of accidents with other vehicles.

Some people think that turning off your car in a car wash is overkill, but I disagree. A shut-off car is one less thing to worry about, and it’s a lot safer.

Do You Need To Turn Off Your Radio in a Car Wash?

Turning your radio off while in a car wash is not a strict requirement unless you have a retractable antenna. These antennas can be broken by the car wash equipment and render your radio inoperable. Besides, you won’t hear much when the car wash equipment is running full throttle.

I have also seen shark fin antennas bent out of shape in a car wash. While these are purely cosmetic and will not affect the function of your car radio, you may want to avoid this from happening.

Still, it’s ultimately up to you whether or not to turn off your radio in a car wash.

Most washes will not ask you to turn it off, but be mindful of the fact that it could get damaged if you don’t.

Is a Waterless Car Wash a Viable Alternative to Traditional Car Wash?

A waterless car wash is a viable alternative to a traditional car wash. They are great for when you’re short on time or looking to save natural resources like water. They typically use a solution of chemicals and water to clean your car.

You can buy a waterless car wash kit and do it yourself or have a detailing expert do it for you.

All you need is a microfibre cloth and a bottle of a waterless car wash. 

You can find more information on how waterless car wash works in this Youtube video: 

However, waterless car washes are not as effective as traditional ones, but they will get the job done in a pinch.

The idea is to get the dirt and grime off your car without using too much water.

Is It Safe To Use a Pressure Washer on Your Car?

It is safe to use a pressure washer to clean your car, but you need to be careful. The high-pressure stream of water can strip away the wax and polish from your paint, and it can also damage your car’s paint job.

If you decide to use a pressure washer on your car, make sure you choose a low water pressure setting.

Also, keep the nozzle at least 18 inches (45.72 cm) away from your vehicle. You should also avoid using a pressure washer on bumpers, trim, and other plastic parts on your car.

I have heard stories of people using pressure washers on their cars and having external parts completely stripped off.

It’s just not worth the risk. It is better to stick to hand washing your car or waterless car washes to avoid damaging your car.

Are the Stories About Paint Damage in Automatic Car Washes True?

People have had issues with paint damage and scratches after taking their car through an automatic car wash, but these stories are usually exaggerated. If you are concerned about paint damage during the wash, you can use the touchless setting to prevent the brushes coming into contact with your car.

Most of the time, the damage is caused by people taking muddy cars into the automatic wash before washing them down first.

If there is dirt or grime on your car, the brushes can grind it into your paint and cause scratches.

To avoid this, make sure that you don’t have debris on your car before taking it through an automatic car wash.

You should also inspect the brushes for debris before putting your car in the wash.

Though it is rare, paint damage can also be caused by the harsh chemicals used during the automatic car wash.

There have been studies done to show the harmful effects of chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid in the car wash industry.

Do You Need to Wax a Car After Every Car Wash?

You don’t need to wax your car after every wash. In fact, waxing too often can damage the paint job. It is generally good to wax your vehicle once every 3 to 6 months, depending on how often you wash it.

Waxing is more of a preventative measure than a necessary one. It helps to seal the paint and protect it from the elements.

And you can use spray wax as a temporary solution if you don’t have time to wax the car.

Key Takeaways

I hope this article has convinced you to turn your car off at a car wash!

The reasons why it is a good idea are listed below:

  • Safer for you and your car
  • Good for the environment
  • Some car wash establishments require you to do so
  • Reduces wear and tear on your car
  • Turning off your car is common courtesy
  • Reduces noise pollution
  • It’s a good habit to get into


Youtube:Youtube: How Does Waterless Car Wash Work? | Black Paint Bentley Continental GT | Chemical Guys Car Care

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Aptiv: What Is an Electronic Control Unit

Twi-global: What Is an Electronic Vehicle?

Sciencedirect: A Review of Hydrofluoric Acid And Its Use in the Car Wash Industry

Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge