Why An Automatic Car Wash Is A Bad Idea For Your Tesla

For some Tesla car owners, getting an automatic car wash service might be concerning. It’s a tough decision whether to take your Tesla car to an automatic car wash or not.

Tesla recommends avoiding automatic car washes. Automatic car washes can misalign sensors, damage charging ports, and scratch the paint job. Tesla recommends to handwash all Tesla cars or to use a touchless car wash to avoid damages.  

In this article, I’ll be talking about Teslas and automatic car washes, whether it’s safe or not to take them to automatic washes, and if it’s — What are the precautions to take?

So without wasting any time, let’s get down to business.

Are Automatic Car Washes Safe for Tesla Cars?

Automatic car washes are very convenient, but are also risky to use and can lead to major damage.

Automatic car washes are not safe for Tesla cars, as they can damage the car’s paint, charging ports, and electrical networks. These damages are not covered by Tesla’s warranty. It is recommended to hand wash a Tesla or to use a touchless car wash.

As mentioned above, you can use a touchless car wash on your Tesla if you do not have the option to hand wash the car.

Soft-touch car washes on the other hand are an absolute no-go for a Tesla.

Touchless Car Wash For Teslas

Tesla’s manual for the Model 3 sedan recommends touchless car washing. “If washing in an automatic car wash, use touchless car washes only. These car washes have no parts (brushes, etc.) that touch the surfaces of Model 3. Using any other type of car wash could cause damage that is not covered by the warranty.”

The thing is, if any Tesla car owner is vouching for an automatic car wash, most of the time, they would be referring to the touchless car wash.

Another thing that might be bothering you is the safety of your electric system and the electric motor. To ensure the safety of these components, Tesla seals them to prevent water intrusions.

And with light-pressure cleaning, there’s no risk of water intrusion in such delicate components.

Thus, touchless cleaning at low pressure is a safer option.

ProsCons
Safest options of automatic washesMight not completely emulsify and remove dirt, grease
Takes less waterCan’t clean hard-to-reach areas

Soft-Touch Car Wash For Teslas

Most car washes are so called soft-touch car washes and clean cars by applying friction to the paint work. This can either be done with brushes or with microfiber cloths.

Teslas should not be driven through soft-touch car washes. Automatic car washes that clean the car with brushes or microfiber cloths are very likely to scratch the paint and can even damage antennas or side mirrors. Tesla’s warranty does not cover these damages.

Hence, soft-touch washing is considered a risky option for electric cars.

You might find soft-touch cleaning more effective, In reality, it can damage your car’s paint and the car’s warranty won’t cover it.

You don’t know if the cloth used to scrub dirt from your car is itself clean or not. What if it contains contaminants caught from the previous wash?

Moreover, the way machines spread dirt and grime can damage important sensors and cameras that help your car to operate normally.

Tesla has warned people not to take their cars in high-pressure washings. A Slightest of negligence can cost significantly.

For instance, if you didn’t lock any of your Tesla car’s doors properly before soft-touch washing, the cloth scrubbing dirt can damage the charging port.

Besides that, soft-touch car washing can damage the paint of your Tesla car. If you have a black Tesla, chances are scratches would become evident after one or two of such washings.

ProsCons
Lifts organic matter – bird droppings, bugs, etc.It can easily damage the paint of your car
Thorough cleaning of carCan damage your car sensors
You might see scratches on your car after cleaning

Tips For Safe Touchless Automatic Car Washing Of Your Tesla Car

Before taking your Tesla car for a touchless automatic car wash, here are some tips to get it cleaned without damaging any components.

Shift Your Car in Neutral the Right Way

All car washers ask you to put your car into neutral so they can pull your vehicle through the car wash. To shift your vehicle into neutral, gently hold down on the shifter for 2 seconds. Do not click fully down, or it’ll return to the drive mode.

Turn-Off Rain-Sensing Wipers

Before your car enters the car wash, make sure you have turned off the rain-sensing wipers, or the water pressure will break them.

Look at the main display; at the bottom, you’ll notice a little window viper. Tap it, and another window will appear. Tap the top part, and that’ll turn off the sensor.

Fold in Your Mirrors

Go to the vehicle menu, and in Quick Controls, you’ll find the button that says “Fold.” Tap it, and it’ll fold the mirrors. Though you are going to do touch-free washing, it’s better to take precautions.

Remove the Hubcaps

Some Tesla models have hubcaps on the wheels. These hubcaps can be damaged during the washing. To prevent this damage and ensure complete washing of the inside part of wheels, you can take out these hubcaps before washing.

Stay Inside the Tracks

If you are in a drive-through car wash that pulls your car in while you keep it in neutral, you must stay inside the tracks – not outside.

Normally there’s only one track and it’s on the driver side. If you stay outside the tracks, it’ll hit the rims of your tires and this contact can damage them.

Use “Tow” Mode While Exiting

Some car washers ask you to come out, and the machine itself will pull the car in. In some Tesla models, the car comes out of neutral mode if your body moves or you exit the car.

To tackle this issue, go to the car menu-> service tab -> towing mode -> transport mode. So when you exit your car, it’ll remain locked in neutral.

Does Tesla Have a Car Wash Mode?

Till now, there is no car wash mode available in Tesla cars but you can make one for yourself by following these steps:

  1. Create a driver profile called “Car Wash”
  2. Set the stop mode to “Roll”
  3. Set the drive mode to “Chill”
  4. Set the mirrors to auto fold at that location.

Turn off your wipers and select this driver’s profile when you’re about to wash your Tesla car. 

How Often Should You Take Your Tesla for Automatic Wash?

You should wash your Tesla car every month or two to take care of the car paint. Washing more than this frequency may cause damage to the car paint, sensitive sensors, and other electrical components. 

If a touchless car wash is safer than other automatic car washes, it doesn’t mean you should wash your Tesla car every day — Avoid it at any cost.

You are better off washing your car with your hands. That too once in a month, or else excessive washing will damage the paint.

You know where the sensitive sensors and components are, make sure to wash those areas with great care.

Areas with excessive dirt and bird droppings can be washed better with hands. So the risk is minimized while high washing efficiency is achieved.

However, when it comes to an automatic car wash, you should try to avoid it as long as you can.

If you feel hand-washing won’t be enough, only then you should go for automatic washing.

Why Do Some Tesla Owners Go for Soft-Touch Wash?

Surprisingly, in one credible platform, I have seen people praising soft-touch car wash for its effectiveness. Some of them do it regularly, and it hasn’t done any damage to the paint or any sensor.

Maybe it’s due to the material of those soft touches. Or maybe the car wash owner regularly cleans the plastic/cloth.

So when there’s no dirt on the cloth due to the previous cleaning, there are fewer chances of soft-touch wash resulting in scratches.

And in some cases, I have seen owners who didn’t mind those swirls and small scratches on the car. All they cared about was how effective the touch washing is. So it all boils down to your preferences.

However, the wise option remains to avoid soft-touch. You don’t know how frequently the car war owner changes the plastic/cloth or cleans it, the ones they will use to clear your Tesla.

Key Takeaways

  • Hand car wash is preferable for Tesla cars
  • Soft-touch car wash should be avoided at all costs for Teslas
  • You should wash your car once a month or two
  • Touchless car washes are preferable over soft-touch
  • Soft-touch car wash damages the sensors and electrical components of the car

Here Are All My Favorite Car Detailing Products

Proper car detailing requires a lot of products. Given that the market for car detailing products is huge and there are many different products available, it can be very confusing and hard to find seriously high-quality products online.

I want to make sure that you as my reader get great car detailing products, so I decided to list my favorite products down below. I am sure you and your car will love them! 🙂

Microfiber Wash Mitts: Microfiber wash mitts are the go-to piece of equipment for every car cleaning enthusiast. Without a proper wash mitt cleaning a car is impossible. These are my favorites:

  • Amazon Basics Deluxe Microfiber Car Wash Mitt: Click here
  • Armor All Microfiber Car Wash Mitt: Click here
  • The Rag Company – Cyclone Wash Mitts: Click here

Car Shampoo: Car shampoo is the only suitable shampoo for washing cars safely. Make sure to get a high-quality car shampoo to prevent scratches. Check my favorites here and get yourself a good car shampoo!

Pressure Washers: If you are serious about car detailing and about cleaning your cars properly, there is no way around a high-quality pressure washer. I know that they are expensive, but trust me, a good pressure washer is a game-changer. Check out my recommendations below!

  • Karcher 13246440 K 5 Premium Full Control: Click here
  • Greenworks Electric Pressure Washer GPW2003: Click here
  • Karcher K1700 Electric Power Pressure Washer: Click here

Paint Protection: Paint protection is something that belongs to every car detailing routine. As it is so important, there are many different products and many different use cases. Check the list below to find my favorite paint protection products.

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Jan-Lucas Ganssauge