OT: Taken to the Cleaners

Silly problem.

Just bought a new car in September. We keep cars a long time. My understanding is that the car has 3 coats of paint; a primer, the color, and a clear coat.

It needs a wash and wax before deep winter sets in, but I live in a cold weather location (temp should be over 55F to do by hand).

I have no problem doing a hand wash and wax myself in the spring and fall, but it’s too cold right now to do it. So I researched car washes. Soft brushes no good because they remove the wax, scratch, and possibly wear off the clear coat. Brushless no good because of the chemicals they use wear off the clear coat. Could have it done by a local detail shop for about $150. Expensive car wash and wax. It’s not a Ferrari, it’s a frickin Accord.

Maybe I should tough it out and get a wash and ceramic finish.

Am I overthinking this? :joy:

I’m in similar situation. I use 40-45 degrees as my window for driveway washing. If I cannot do it myself (usually a mid-winter washing) the kind of car wash with the wand where you just sort of hose off the car is all I’m looking for. I do NOT use any other kind of commercial car wash. I ceramic coated the car in Oct just before the consistently cold weather moved in. That will have to do till Spring or one of those mid-winter brief thaws we sometimes get.

I never wax my car and absolutely do not believe in it.

As far as I know Germans also never wax their cars. It is just an American sales thing.

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How do you know that NOT waxing a car isn’t just some German thing? When I lived there they all were washing and waxing their cars every chance they got. And they were always in the shop for something. Conversations about what’s wrong with your car this week were like Americans talking about sports.

I have a friend from the Black Forest whose family owns a Ford dealership. He has never waxed a car. But he left Germany in 1981. Anything American can be sold to anyone since then. Look MCD has conquered Bavaria.

My friend has owned an auto shop here in the US since 1981 specializing in German cars. His family is Ford but he is a Mercedes-trained mechanic.

Adding ever notice the cheaper carwashes have coats offered? Sure some chemical crap is sprayed. Do you think you are getting $1 or $3 worth of stuff? Why not wax? Because just junk in water is a better deal to sell to the public. Does not do anything.

BTW ever noticed people buffing their cars as the cars get much older and have no finish? What is it the scratch remover moves the scratches around while adding smaller scratches. LOL

Well, my cars get waxed in spring and fall. I use a synthetic, not carnauba. Washing, from time to time through the summer. I use a brush to loosen the schmutz before rising it off. My current car will be ten years old next month. Still looks OK. The Civic I had before still looked OK when I sold it at fifteen years. I keep the cars garaged when not in use, and the Civic was put up several winters.


My 2012 Civic is in excellent shape. Never waxed. No extra scratches or anything else. Just no money wasted on wax.

We’ve had an Accord, Civic for many years, 2007 is the latest, setting in the driveway, lately, awaiting eldest GK to take it over, but both were garaged and both were run through touches car washes routinely, they handwashing’s just before the tunnel, blown dry, nearly followed by hand wiping down, interior cleaning, windows, tire black, and we’ve never had any issue with the paint or finish… Modern paints are beyond our efforts to hurt them I think.

Same with my '06 F150 Crew, only divergence is that it sets outside 24/7, only paint issue on it is the tailgate where the white paint & clear coat have peeled in a couple spots, to its galvanized undercoat… Never bothered to have it repainted, a little lacking tape & a rattle can of Rustoleum solved it… Invisible…

New '23 RAV4 lives in the garage, has only been through the car wash once in it’s 1,500 mile life after a trip out to West Marin to check out Dillon beach after a bit of stormy weather… No issues…

Maybe just me, but I haven’t seen paint issues since my old '95 K2500 pickup, it had clear coat separation problems on the hood, roof, but not worth the expense of repainting it… other headaches made it go away…


Put it in the garage, turn up the heat and wash it the next day.

The Captain

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Possibly. Depends on what your time is worth. I don’t have my SUV washed/detailed enough, twice a year tops, and I’m charged about that much. Worth it because it is an all day job and I’d rather be doing other things.

Do agree with hand wash over machine.

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We have a 2004 Toyota Sienna and a 2013 Toyota Camry. Both look amazingly good, even though we could put antique plates on the Sienna next year. Our car gets washed regularly…every time we drive in the rain. Seriously. No soap, no wax, just rain. Heck, the Sienna doesn’t even get to live in the garage and it still looks amazing.

Maybe it’s not so much over thinking that’s happening, but over doing.

who would happily buy another Sienna, but they ruined the vehicle when they made the middle row of seats non-removable, eliminating the awesome cargo capacity ours has with no second or third row seats

I don’t want to get into the wax/no wax debate but one place waxing really helps is the windshield. Yes, the windshield. Water just beads up and runs off and dirt doesn’t stick.


The auto industry converted to much better paint (acrylics) in 1958. Before then you had to keep your car out of the sun, preferably in a garage, and wax frequently.

Much better paint and much better primers (electrodeposition) gives much better performance. Rusted fender are almost rare these days. Better paint also reduced weight and improved gas mileage.


I’m in about the same place. Because i live in a temperate desert (So Cal) waiting for rain means the windows get too hard to see out of. So I wash mine a couple of times through the summer and fall out of safety concerns.

Of course, I generally buy used at 5 years old or thereabouts. So I don’t drive beauty queens.


Exactly. And in the high altitude semi-desert of the Mexican Bajio even quality acrylic gets worn out over time, making ungaraged cars look crappy, and so I can buy excellent quality cars of rich Mexicans for big big discounts HOORAY!

I pamper their insides and keep windows clean.

d fb

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Not that my experience is indicative, but I drive a 1997 Infiniti. I wash in (automated, with brushes) a couple times a year. I don’t pay for wax or anything else, and it looks terrific. I also had a 2011 Infiniti which I recently sold; same regimen, looked great when I sold it. Mrs. Goofy has a 2011 Infiniti, same same.

We also have a a 2005 Toyota van which I use for Home Depot runs and she uses for the dog. The less said about that the better, but the last time it was washed was probably pre-Covid.

Wax: not necessary in my view. Modern auto paint & clear coat, quite a miracle.

OK, thanks to all for your input. I appreciated reading all the posts.

I did more reading on the subject and it seems everyone has a dog in this fight.

Hand washing is best. Hand washing can ruin the finish. Brushes are fine. Brushes scratch your finish. Soft brushes are great. Soft brushes fray and scratch. Touchless doesn’t scratch. Touchless chemicals are bad for the finish. Wax is good. Wax is a waste. Sigh.

Finally found a Consumer Report article that basically said if your car gets dirty, take it to a well-maintained car wash. Don’t pay extra for the wax. If you live in a high salt area, get the undercarriage cleaned once a season.

Then the last article I read said some new cars have problems in a car wash because of all the sensors. My car goes off like a 9 alarm fire when I back out of the garage. Double sigh.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of an OCD individual that loves to read. Could be worse. I might have been a high-functioning sociopath.

Well maintained car wash it is.

On to more important issues, like how much lead is in the dark chocolate bar I ate for breakfast and will Rudy ever be able to afford hair coloring that doesn’t melt in the heat?


See if it is more–or less–lead than was (is?) in leaded gasoline…

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But I don’t drink leaded gasoline. It gives me a headache.


Just consume the lead. Doesn’t have to be dissolved in gasoline.