The Operation of a Drive-Thru Car Wash

When you lack the patience or time to cleanse your vehicle by hand, drive-through car washes are a convenient alternative.

They are easy to use, more efficient than manual washing, and typically a few pounds in price.

However, if you have never used one before, car washes may appear intimidating.

The advantages and disadvantages of using a drive-through car wash, as well as how to operate the portable washers, are discussed in this concise guide.

See our post “How often should I wash my car?” once you have mastered the car wash.

How to use the drive through car wash

Distinguishing how to cleanse a car should not appear to be a particularly difficult task. However, hand washing at home requires a great deal more than a sponge and pail.

If you are unable to afford a professional detail, a drive-through car wash may be a suitable alternative.

Utilizing a car wash is fortunately easier than it could be!

1. Locate a nearby car wash

Presently, it should be relatively simple to locate a gas station equipped with an automatic vehicle wash. Car washes may be located in the vicinity of showrooms or in the parking lots of shopping centers, allowing customers to have their vehicles cleaned while they purchase. Choose a product with soft-touch bristles to prevent clear coat abrasion.

2. The payment method should be determined.

Most car washes will be self-service, with machines receiving cash and credit cards. If none are available, you will typically be required to pay by entering the garage or locating an attendant.

Then, the variety of car wash ought to be selectable via the cashier or the machine. Drive-through washes typically provide a variety of services, including tyre and tire cleaning, undercarriage rust protection, and spray-on waxing, in addition to a basic wash.

Although the latter may appear to save time and effort, a thorough hand wax provides superior protection for your vehicle. Additionally, you can peruse our best recommendations regarding the maintenance and frequency of car waxing.

3. Make arrangements to enter the car wash

Your entire vehicle must be closed prior to going through the car wash, although this is a matter of course. Any windows or doors that are left open or marginally ajar may result in a soaked interior and potentially passengers.

When young children or canines are present in the vehicle, it is prudent to secure the windows and doors to prevent accidental opening during car washing.

Additionally, you should disable any automatic wipers. Automatically activated wipers that detect water may clog the blades of the car wash, causing damage to both the wipers and the car wash.

4. Proceed to the car wash

Typically, automatic car washers feature a direction indicator for the proper positioning of the vehicle. This could be a track system against which your front tires should be stopped, or it will be marked with signs indicating where your vehicle must be. Certain systems will provide illumination to indicate that your vehicle is positioned correctly.

Once the vehicle has been properly positioned, place it in neutral (for manual vehicles) or park (for automatic vehicles). If instructed to do so, turn off the engine of your vehicle.

5. Await the commencement of the cleansing

Upon commencing the car wash, you may detect a minor movement or shaking of your vehicle. Simply relax and await the cleaning of your vehicle; no action is required.

If you detect any signs of water entering the vehicle, you should thoroughly inspect the doors and windows and, if necessary, close or roll them shut.

6. Depart from the car wash

At the conclusion of the car wash, a signal or light should indicate that it is safe to leave.

Exit with caution if you are using one adjacent to a gas station or garage, as other vehicles may be obstructing the exit or traveling across.

How to use the self service car wash

Self-service car washes are an excellent alternative to drive-through car washes. It is particularly suitable for those who take pleasure in the gratification of cleaning their own vehicle but do not wish to purchase the necessary cloths and products.

Additionally, it is ideal for days when you invest hours cleaning your car only to discover that it is covered in bird feces. The use of self-service car washes eliminates the need to undergo a full automatic car wash and allows for selective cleaning of specific areas.

1. Park your vehicle in close proximity to the self-service cleaner.

There should be a designated area for this; however, sufficient space must be left around the exterior of the vehicle to accommodate the attachments.

2. Obtain the spray nozzle and verify that there is sufficient space

You want your vehicle to be near enough for the wand to reach all the way around, but far enough away to prevent you from becoming wet.

3. Choose the discharge configuration

Generally, there are settings for shampoo/soap, rinse, and cleanse.

4. Introduce cash into the self-service machine

Once the setting has been selected, entering money into the machine will grant you a certain quantity of washing time. This may be indicated on the machine, or a timer will begin once the funds have been inputted. As the spray device typically begins immediately, be ready and direct it away from your body.

5. Commence the automobile washing process

The purpose of spray nozzles is comparable to that of a pressure washer. Ideally, maintain a distance of three to five feet from your vehicle to prevent paint damage. However, you may also conduct preliminary tests on a small area.

To eliminate larger debris, begin by using the wash setting (working from top to bottom), then shampoo/soap to thoroughly cleanse the dirt, and lastly rinse to eliminate any soap residue.

Although the self-service will provide a satisfactory finish for your paintwork, consult our articles on how to clean car windows and windscreens for the best results for your vehicle’s glass.


In the event that you determine that a drive-through car wash is not for you, washing your vehicle manually is not a daunting task. We are here to provide comprehensive guidance, encompassing everything from cleaning the alloy wheels of your car to cleaning the headlights.

Whatever method you choose to achieve that gleaming exterior, ensure that the interior is in pristine condition by following our guide to cleaning the interior of your vehicle.