gas station car washes yeah or nay ??

gas station car washes yeah or nay ??

Has anyone ran their model s through a car wash at am/pm? this one by me isn't touchless.

BYT | April 10, 2013

Nay, read the owners manual that confirms that.

mbcaffe | April 10, 2013

Look at the "two bucket" method on you tube (5 parts).
If you have to take it to a car wash, go to true 'hand wash' where there are two guys with mitts soaping your car.

mikhaila | April 10, 2013

Well I'd say it depends. Occasional brush was may be OK as long as they use soft brushes. I've been washing my BMW sometimes in a car wash we have close, they have choice of brushless and uses soft brushes. I haven't noticed any major swirl marks or scratches. In summer I typically wash by hand or choose brushless wash and then finish manually. In winter I sometimes pick brush wash.

Captain_Zap | April 10, 2013


You should read the owners manual.

tammilivingston | April 10, 2013

Thank you. I know what the owners manual says, but that doesn't mean people won't try the car washes with the soft brushes or touchless ( which left a few water spots) I think I will stick to the hand washes. :)

Captain_Zap | April 10, 2013

Some are are ok with the touchless. I have heard regrets about going through a car wash if you have the larger wheels.

I wouldn't try anything less than touchless unless you have your car completely wrapped or coated. I wouldn't even use a brush for a hand wash.

DouglasR | April 10, 2013

I have heard from two different sources that the touchless car washes are not recommended because of the chemicals they use (both sources were companies that do XPel wraps). One said the chemicals strip the wax from your finish.

GeekEV | April 10, 2013

I've used the touchless car washes. Having seen brushed car washes really scratch up a couple of cars (not mine) I'd never use one of those.

Pbfoot | April 10, 2013

I made the mistake of going through a 'soft brush' automated wash after it snowed and my MS was covered in salt. Unfortunately the next time the sun came out I saw that my car had a few subtle but visible superficial scratches. Then I hired a local mobile detail service to do a wash-clay-polish-wax job on the car. The guy ended up putting new buffer scratches on my trunk hood, I am guessing because there is a concave curve to it and he was using a 6" pad which was probably not ideal for there. Now I am having to get my own rotary polisher and get the scratches out myself because I don't trust anyone else.

So no, please resist the temptation, it isn't worth it. Use the ones that just spray without brushes, or have it done by hand.

Brian H | April 11, 2013

The "spray ones" use harsh stripper chemicals that may take you down to bare paint. Beware. The only solution is to hire bikini babes to personally clean and polish, and spank them if they leave swirls or scratches.

Or do it yourself.

tammilivingston | April 11, 2013

Brian- I will hire chippendales, thanks! lol

I washed and detailed it myself and it looks spectacular. I did use Eagleone nanospray carnuaba wax. Work s well so far, it leaves it really clean and shiny. :)

mikhaila | April 11, 2013

@Captain_Zap: I know what it says:

"Do not use hot water and detergents.

In hot weather, do not wash in direct sunlight.

If using a pressure washer, maintain a distance of at least 12 inches between the nozzle and the vehicle. Keep the nozzle moving and do not concentrate the water jet on any one area.

Do not aim water hoses directly at window, door or hood seals, or through wheel apertures onto brake components.

Avoid using tight-napped or rough cloths, such as washing mitts.
If washing in an automatic car wash, use “Touchless” car washes only. These car washes must have no parts, such as brushes, that can touch Model S.

Using any other type of car wash could cause damage that is not covered by the warranty.

Do not use chemical based wheel cleaners—these can damage the finish of the wheel.

It may say whatever, but there are "reasonable expectations" regarding car reliability so I don't think voiding warranty because of cash wash will hold well in legal proceedings ;-) Not everyone is able to wash car by hand and if it is required, Tesla should not sell car to people with disabilities.

Anyway, soft brush is not much different from driving at highway speeds in a pouring rain. Car should be waterproof enough.

dqb | April 11, 2013

I must say that I hadn't washed a car by hand in quite a long time, but do now with the MS. I took through a wash once in winter as it was caked in salt grime and I was pressed for time between problems. But now enjoy the wash time.

STARR X | April 12, 2013

I am not one to take the time to hand wash my MS or let someone else do it while I wait. But I do go to the local $5.00 car wash with free vacuum every Sunday. It is not a touchless car wash and I have no bad experiences using it. I have never washed a car weekly before.

ekasula | October 5, 2014


Anthony J. Parisio | October 5, 2014

You are right if one wants a show car finish or a finish to last forever. (This is what I want). However, some only want a clean car. Some may not even intend to keep it for more than a few years. For these people touch less or pressure wash is far better than a washer that touches the car. Yes, I agree with all the negative statements about these methods but they are still better then a machine that touches car after car after car.

I must also admit, I have use pressure and touch less. Here in Philly the winters can be hard on a car. I have no garage. When the temps are to cold for hand washing, I do use these methods to clean the winter off the car. I wish I had a garage so I could only hand wash.

kawdennis | October 5, 2014

I used to work at a car wash, I wouldn't take my Tesla to one if you paid me

jjr64 | October 5, 2014

When it's 10 degrees or less in a Chicago winter and your beautiful MS is covered in road salt, I think the lesser of two evils is to run it through a touchless carwash and have a few water spots. I can't imagine that the chemicals they use are worse for the paint than the road salt the cities use!

Tanchico | October 5, 2014

I have no plans to use a car wash but I'm struggling to figure out what to do in the winter. i tried several options last winter but with temps dipping to -40 for any lenght of time, all i got was a layer of dirty ice. Do any of you have a good choice for cold climates?

Tesltoronto | October 5, 2014

I will be taking the MS for touchless car washes. Here in Canada, Petrocanada, offers a daily touchless car wash for 90 days for little over $200. This will keep snow, ice and salt away. I am thinking of buying it. I know I know - washing it daily may not be good. Bu am not sure which is lesser of the two evils - a salt covered MS or a clean car. I do have Opti-coat and Xpel installed.

Tanchico | October 5, 2014

@Tesltoronto - do you see any difference between the Petrocan and Esso touchless?

EternalChampion | October 5, 2014

Corrosion is certainly a worry, but I wonder how much durable the aluminum in these cars will be compared to the predecessors and their steel bodies/frames.

Jgdixon | October 5, 2014

Some of the new PetroCan have a moving grid that pulls your Car through.
Way better than the typical rollers and guides that can damage the wheels.

KdotB | October 5, 2014

Have the petrocan pass for my black MS. Completely useless right now....the back half of the car looks as if water hasn't even touched it. But winter is another story....hopefully it'll get the salt off at least.

Been using the touch less....the new ones with the moving conveyor belt you park on. I hand wash once a week and use this the other days....only because I'm in a new build area with dirt all around. But in winter it'll be good to get rid of the salt at least

johncrab | October 5, 2014

Pre-dawn hours so no sun can reach beads of water and leave spots on the paint. Softened, filtered water. Churro wool wash mitt from the Navajo Nation. NON-detergent "soap" from Griot's. English wash leather for drying. I'm a die-hard purist in this area and will make no apologies for it.

carlk | October 5, 2014

Not for me. Not even the "touchless" car wash where they reuse the dirty towel to dry your car. I only wash mine with ONR (Optimum no rinse wash and shine) and two bucket method in the comfort of my garage even in cold winter days. An easy 20min or so job every weekend or every other weekend. My MS is alway the shinest car in the parking lot. I live in CA so I have no concern of road salt.

jajabor | October 5, 2014


renwo S alset | October 5, 2014

I use the Optimum No Rinse 2-bucket method in the garage, which works great for the car body, no so great for the wheels. Has anyone found something that gets behind the spokes without high-pressure water? I use a small brush, but it still doesn't do a very good job.

dennycrane888 | October 6, 2014

Have you guys seen this dionizer system? They claim you can rinse your car and not have to towel it off. No streaks or water stains!

Anthony J. Parisio | October 6, 2014

I wish I had a garage! Being outside near a tree in fall in Philly is not pretty. I wash and wax once a week by hand. At this time of year I first use a leaf blower. When the weather gets to cold I will have to use pressure wash or touchless. So because of this discussion yesterday I went to try the pressure washer for the first time on my MS. I have to say it was easy, fast and good. Naturally I did not use their brush. If wiping was needed I would use my own mit.

I am glad to report there were no leaks. Water did not go any where it should not have. My car is Opti-Coated. However it looks like their wax added a little something. I can't be sure. It just might be me. Thor usually looks great after a simple wash. I know the touchless chemicals are much stronger than pressure washer. (I once talked with a tech. at this location.). So I will use touchless only when the car is to salt covered and it is to cold to get out to spray. No matter what happens, he is getting his weekly wash and wax as have all my past cars. | October 6, 2014

Take this from a guy who has built and operated gas station car washes... NEVER... With the brush washes....the In-bay automatic or touchless, maybe in a pinch but you will need to still be aware of the chemicals that are used. So the conclusion is a clear NO....

carlk | October 6, 2014

@renwo S alseT I just use a small piece of microfiber clothes dipped in ONR to wipe the wheels clean after I finished the rest of the car. Works like a charm. I don't know why you have problem with cleanning them.

@Saluda I assume you are no longer involved with that business?

Doug H | October 6, 2014

I was in a hurry last summer and ran my MS through a car wash in suburban Detroit. This was after doing the same thing in Chicago the week before. Unfortunately, the pressure of the brushes of the car wash in Detroit slightly bent the edges of the driver's side doors. It's barely perceptible but I was very disappointed and upset.

I will NEVER run my MS though a car wash again unless it's touch-less, and only then in a pinch. It's just not worth it to play Russian Roulette with such an expensive car.

renwo S alset | October 6, 2014

Carlk. I'm talking about the entire wheel, I haven't found anything that fits between the brake/regen/calipers to get at the wheel behind the spokes.

Anthony J. Parisio | October 6, 2014

Wow after reading Doug H's post I realized, MS is made of all aluminium. A mechanical car wash could do some body damage.

Brian H | October 6, 2014

A fine demo of why Holmes was right about theorizing!

Brian H | October 6, 2014


Brian H | October 6, 2014

Oops. Got onto the wrong thread somehow.

compchat | October 7, 2014

I have a complex routine to wash my tesla. If water is available I will first rinse. Then apply soap. Rinse the soap. Apply another coating of soapy water and use a carbon fiber towel (or lamb glove) to wash it in. Then rinse it off with water (decalcified is a must) and assist the air drying with carbon fiber towels. I wash the wheels and windows separately using different wash techniques. I find a long tubular brush can get inside the wheel spokes quite easily leaving the wheel looking clean. The inside is also treated but that's a separate process. Removing the floor mats and washing them is a must followed by vacuuming the rug under-neath. Treating the leather with cleanser is a must as well but I only do that every 4 weeks.

After all this is done I use a sealer on the inside of the car which is applied with a carbon fiber towel and then wiped off. This leaves the leather soft and smelling like a new car. The trick is in the details. Those little crooks and nannies must be cleaned.

It takes me about 4 1/2 hours to wash my car completely. I tend to rotate different parts of the inside/outside every 2 to 4 weeks. For instance the wheels I only clean every two weeks and the seats only 4 weeks.

Remember to use only the finest carbon fiber towels and lambs wool. I like the chemical guys products but use others from time to time as well. Don't let it get really dirty because it will be that much harder to bring it back to your standard !

If you don't want to or can't use water then there are sprays on the market that you simply spray on the painted metal and gently wipe off. This is time consuming and goes through a dozen towels. Would suggest that you start from the top with a clean fiber towel and mid way change to a different clean fiber towel. At the bottom you can use an older dirtier towel with has been washed and rinsed twice. The idea is you don't want the contaminated towel to come in contact with the clean towel.

Of course you could use the two bucket technique as described on you tube..This keeps the dirty water from the cleaner wash water.

OR you can purchase a power washer to replace the buckets and the elbow grease. I've done that as well but I find it really doesn't save that much time. There are some decent youtube videos on how to wash a model s vehicle. Suffice to say this is a HUGE never ending project because the paint is too soft on the Model S vehicles

Tesltoronto | October 7, 2014

Tanchico : Actually I don't see any difference. It is just that Petrocanada has the 90 day car wash which seems attractive price wise.

Tesltoronto | October 7, 2014

I know it is easier for some of you to say no car washes. Unfortunately, for many of us leaving in cold climates it is difficult to hand wash the war and spend about 2 hours doing so.

We have to either live with the salt corroding the car in winter, dirty car in summer/winter or a touchless car wash.

Washing the car in sub-zero temperatures leaves layers of ice on the body (due to water droplets freezing) and a very slippery driveway.

Brian H | October 7, 2014

Crooks and nannies? Strange company you keep.

sbeggs | October 7, 2014

this is the first I've heard of carbon fiber towels. Sounds stiff and abrasive! | October 7, 2014

Nay nay nay!

If you don't want to do the whole two-bucket full wash, invest in some Optimum No Rinse Wash/Wash with a bunch of microfiber cloths. I use multiple MF cloths so you completely avoid the chance of scratching your paint.

I have approx 2 x 3 MFs that soak in the bucket then fold into quarters, so I can wipe, fold, wipe, etc, so you are always wiping with a clean surface. It takes me about 5 cloths to do my car.


cpanatier | October 7, 2014

two bucket method for the win. Very easy, prevents paint scratching via wiping schmutz all over your paint. Very simple, very cheap. Will keep paint beautiful. Dry with microfiber towels only.

cpanatier | October 7, 2014

ALSO: If you have any detailing questions whatsoever, this is the site for you:

Order stuff here:

cpanatier | October 7, 2014

I have no plans to use a car wash but I'm struggling to figure out what to do in the winter. i tried several options last winter but with temps dipping to -40 for any lenght of time, all i got was a layer of dirty ice. Do any of you have a good choice for cold climates?

Yes. Park the car in your garage. Fill two buckets. One with a very weak soap solution, one with rinse water. Use a microfiber sponge.

1. Go panel by panel.
2. Use the very mildly soapy sponge on a panel.
3. Rinse sponge. Then use clean sponge to rinse same panel. Do this twice.
4. Dry panel with microfiber panel.
5. Go to next panel.
6. Change rinse water a few times.

I do this all the time. You learn there is no actual reason to spray down your whole car.

Tanchico | October 7, 2014

Think I'll try the AJP approach and take my own mitt to the pressure wash stations. However anything less than -30°C I'll be driving dirty. Last winter when I tried, it was -35°C all I got was a thick layer of ice and a frozen charge port.

@cpanatier - In the winter I can't very well wash my car in the garage. It will be too cold in there to even melt the ice and snow built up after a commute. If I touch a wet sponge to the car, I'll be going back in the house for a hair dryer.

cpanatier | October 7, 2014

@tanchico- gotcha man. I get that.

brian_in_TX | October 7, 2014

Gas Station? GAS STATION???

Thought this was a Tesla forum...