Are Car Wash Extras Worth It?

We are getting to that time of year, where road treatments, salt, sand/mud and snow are all over our cars. This is the fastest way to get 1 star ratings and no tips. Our philosophy is to wash your car a minimum of once every 24 hours of driving, or after a particular bad experience with road salt. If your car looks like this, stop what you are doing and get it washed.


You are now at the car wash and notice there are 3 different options. “What the heck is wheel-brite”? Thanks to Consumer Reports, they did tests on all the different features to tell if it is worth it. I will highlight the important ones below, and you can read the whole article here.

Cloth Wash or Touch-less?

A touch-less wash uses chemicals and high power spray. Your car can handle this, so there is no risk doing it.

With a cloth wash, if the car wash is not well maintained, the cloth can have dirt and sand in it that will scratch your car.

Should I get the undercarriage wash?

Yes, but not ever wash. Do it at least once a season, and in particularly bad winter months.

How about wheel cleaning?

Your wheels do need to be cleaned with a special chemical to get brake dust off. If you want your rims to look clean, get it done. Otherwise, you will always have that caked on brake dust.

Spray on Wax?

Skip it. Your car’s finish is built to last 10 years or more. Spray on wax is purely a cosmetic benefit, and a minor one at that.

Should I hand wash my car?

If you want to save a little money, go for it. Just beware. Make sure you use appropriate soap, and a sponge that will not damage the coating on your car. If you are using your car primarily for rideshare, as opposed to off-roading, an automatic wash is the way to go.

My recommendation is to find a car wash that offers a monthly membership in touch-less washes, and has one of those high powered vacuums. This is both cost effective and safe for your car.

What’s your car washing strategy?