Washing our Model S

Washing our Model S

There have been opinions, rumors, statements etc. about not sending our new cars through a carwash. Overall this seems to make good sense. While I believe the issue of injuring the battery has been thoroughly dispensed with, I’m still picking up advice that an automatic carwash is not a good idea because: a) the Model S is an aluminum body; b) it will damage the paint armor; c) the Tesla paint is water-based; and/or d) fill-in the blanks. Again, some of these reasons seem to make sense. But here’s the rub: I am rapidly approaching the age where spending an hour giving my Model S the tender loving care it deserves is impractical because the back isn’t what it used to be. For the record I have been washing my family’s cars and then my own cars since before I could drive. It has been a religious experience which served to really bond me to the beauty and pride of owning a nice car.

However, life intervenes.

So (finally) my question is what do you think the real implications will be of running it through a normal car wash, that isn’t brushless? I know I can always try to find someone to hand-wash my car regularly, but is this carwash business really hype or will I be risking serious damage to the vehicle? What do y’all think?

aaronw2 | November 5, 2012

There's a touchless one near my house I might consider. You might also check out this guy's videos on washing cars to avoid swirl marks...

Getting Amped Again | November 6, 2012

Reposted from another topic:

GregG | November 5, 2012

So, in a weak moment, i took my model S to a "brushless" carwash. i know, i know....

fifteen minutes later, gouges on each driver side wheel AND big chunk out of each tire!

cost me two tires. :-(

not sure why because i have brought Porsche Turbos here with wider tires.....

perhaps because the car itself is so wide...?

What ever, dont do this! :-)

STEVEZ | November 6, 2012

@GetAmpedSoon: An S in Drive with creep Off and no go pedal is just like a manual car in neutral, or maybe the better analogy is, like a manual car in gear with the clutch pedal depressed. It should work in a car wash just fine, if the car wash tracks don't eat your rims.

Getting Amped Again | November 6, 2012

Thanks STEVEZ. There was a lot of talk about this, but based on GregG's post I think I'm going to be putting quarters in and freezing my fingers off when it's 35 F. Frunk - place to put your carwash supplies!

RZitrin1 | November 7, 2012

this is making me afraid. gotta find me an "intern."


JoeFee | November 7, 2012


I’m not going through any car wash … any DIY tips anyone (products/process)?

Brian H | November 7, 2012

Wait for rain, then drive fast for about 5 minutes.

nickjhowe | November 7, 2012

@joefiorelli - check out aaronw2's post six above yours. The video by "The Junk Man" is good watching.

cstull | November 7, 2012

I have 14 cars and about half of them have never seen a car wash. I have a RO/DI system that fills a 100 gallon tank. I use a pump to a hose to first rinse the car, then I brush it with a soft brush from a soapy bucket. Then a second rinse with the RO/Di water. The wash and rinse only used about 15-20 of the 100 gallons.

Finally, I use a blower that I got from Griots that blows high volume/speed air to remove all the water. Finally, I use a micro fiber towel to catch the few water spots that the blower missed.

I can do my Telsa roadster in 15 minutes with little or no touch.

Brian H | November 8, 2012

nick, aaron;
Good "Junkman" videos (5) -- but that guy does like to talk!! Repetition until you swoon! Either he thinks no one has a memory lasting more than 5 seconds, or he doesn't. Heh.

nickjhowe | November 8, 2012

@BrianH - agree he likes to talk, but he's entertaining "A brother in his garage productions" - priceless.

SwiCago | November 8, 2012

Linex the entire car and all you'll ever need to wash it is a garden hose. Nothing sticks to linex, not even bird s#%t LOL.
It is scratch proof and pretty much damage proof. I have an FJC that is 100% linex'd and I have seen some Audi's 100% linex'd. It looks good on some cars and on others it doesn't, depends on color.

Ohms.Law | November 24, 2012

I'm hoping there are new Model S owners who can share experience in keeping their new cars clean. Car washes anyone? Therefore: bump!

EcoHeliGuy | November 24, 2012

BMW advises against mechanical automated car wash's ( rotating brush type ) due to damage of trim pieces and roof racks. If one of those fingers gets under the edge of a trim piece it will be gone in a flash. I always take my car through jet type automated car wash's. does a much faster job then I can and recycles water. Once a year I clean well by hand. If you are worried about those chemicals, never let rain-x touch your car, it discolors plastic trim, I have had wheel arch trim discolored on two vehicles directly below the window where washer fluid runs off, before I realized why.

Brian H | November 24, 2012

Plastic trim? The thought!!!!