It is often all too easy to consider an automatic car wash, full service car wash, dealership car wash, or other types of ‘quick & easy’ washing services as a means of saving some time in your busy schedule. These can be even more tempting when they are offered as a complimentary service like many dealerships will do when you’ve brought your vehicle in to them. You might think “what harm can a car wash do?” Unfortunately, the answer is A LOT!
This article will focus on the miserable experiences one person faced after a simple dealership wash. I became familiar with this particular issue because the owner and I are both members of a common automotive forum and detailing forum where he sought advice on how to remedy this situation. The owner is a detailing enthusiast who takes great pride in maintaining his vehicles to the highest standards. Whether you work on your own vehicles, hire a professional, or you are a professional that has the pleasure of working on other people’s vehicles, you know it takes a lot of time, money, and dedication to keep the paint in nearly flawless condition. It would truly be a shame to see all of that hard work destroyed by a simple wash, wouldn’t it?
With that being said, his story goes like this …
He made a trip to his local dealership to have a factory recall taken care of. As usual, he made sure to remind the service consultant that he did not want his car to be washed, and made sure this was noted on the service work order. In fact, I was told that he politely asked three different employees not to wash his car before he handed over the keys to his car and made his way to the waiting area. Can you guess what happened next? Yup – they washed his car anyways.
So you might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? They just washed it.” I will allow the photos to speak for themselves.
The following two photographs were taken by the owner immediately after his service appointment.
Pretty horrible wouldn’t you say?
The owner brought this to the attention of the service consultant right away. The dealership kindly offered to “buff it out”, but this is never a good idea. You can imagine that if it is too much trouble to follow proper washing processes, there is a very good chance they also do not practice proper polishing technique either. The owner explained that he did not want his vehicle touched by the dealership employees, and an appointment was made to speak with the manager to discuss further options. Long story short – the manager refused to acknowledge that their washing processes caused damage even though he was shown photos of the paint condition before the appointment compared to after the appointment, and the owner of the car was forced to escalate the situation to the corporate level.
The corporate representative agreed to pay a small sum of money for the damages, but was not willing to pay anywhere near the amount that the owner was quoted by a local professional to have the vehicle’s paint corrected. After threatening legal action, they were a bit more inclined to increase their payout, but it was still significantly less than what was needed to restore the vehicle back to its previous condition. The owner decided it was not worth the trouble to pursue the claim with Lexus any further. He scheduled an appointment with the local detailer to have his car corrected and was forced to pay for the difference in cost out of his own pocket.
After some disappointments, delays, and many days of work at the detailer, his car was finally returned to him in the condition that he knew and loved.
So How Does That ‘Cheap’ Car Wash Sound Now?
I think the owner described it best when he told me “countless hours of work were destroyed in less than 10 minutes”. Aside from the hard work that he dedicated to maintaining his paint before the dealership got a hold of it, he had to go through an immense amount of work just to be partially reimbursed for the damages. That free or ‘cheap’ quick car wash could cost you hundreds of dollars, many headaches, and a long struggle when it is all said and done.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that the majority of car owners that frequently visit these types of washing establishments are unaware of the damage that is being caused. Be sure to educate those around you of the true cost of going to a “cheap” car wash. If you really care about your vehicle, it is not difficult to maintain it on your own. I refer most of my customers to this article to demonstrate proper maintenance washing and drying: How To Properly Wash and Dry a Car. If you do not wish to invest your own time into washing your vehicle, chances are there is a true detailing professional in your area that offers maintenance plans to help keep your vehicle looking great all the time. Be sure to check out the Find a Detailer Map to help locate a professional in your area.
If you want to help avoid the same fate at your dealership, a visual reminder is a great idea. The “Do Not Wash” Rear View Mirror Hang Tag is a great product to keep in your car. Simply store it in your glove compartment and attach it to your rear view mirror when you visit your dealership or other service establishment to remind them not to touch your vehicle’s paint.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to spread the word about the true damage that can come from a “simple car wash”.