Car wash mode?

Car wash mode?

1. Close windows. Check.
2. Foot off brake. Check.
3. Put car in neutral. Uh oh.

Manual says I have to be in Transport Mode to keep car in neutral for the five minutes it takes to go through the car wash. But it also says if it detects rolling over 5 mph, it reapplies the brake.

What controls and sequence works for going through a car wash?

Mike UpNorth_ | 8 juin 2019

Turn off auto wipers.

Lonestar10_1999 | 8 juin 2019

Tesla recommends you avoid automatic car washes.

Magic 8 Ball | 8 juin 2019

@FISHEV Advice for you is to leave the windows down and pop the frunk and trunk open midway thru'.

SalisburySam | 8 juin 2019

I’ve tried to suss out the magic code to use a car wash and I haven’t unearthed it for the reasons specified by @FISHEV. The only thing that works consistently is if you or someone else sits in the drivers seat with the vehicle in neutral. This assumes turning off auto wipers, all windows up, mirrors folded, no braking.

Not a great approach but can work if the car wash allows sitting in the vehicle through the wash...some don’t for the ubiquitous “insurance reasons.”

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

"The only thing that works consistently is if you or someone else sits in the drivers seat with the vehicle in neutral."

So if I stay in the car (usually do the drive through car washes) it won't shift out of neutral? The manual just says when you exit the car, will go out of neutral into park.

Wanted to make sure Tesla didn't have some "safety feature" that would suddenly apply brakes in the middle of the car wash.

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

"Tesla recommends you avoid automatic car washes."

Did not see that in the manual. It says avoid the high pressure washes but nothing about regular car washes.

It has clear film on the entire nose to the doors. Ceramic coating on the paint. Even if it didn't It's a working man's car. It's going to car washes.

Neomaxizoomdweebie | 8 juin 2019

Maybe give it a quick dip in the Pacific.

Lonestar10_1999 | 8 juin 2019

From the manual in the maintenance section

Caution: If washing in an automatic car wash, use Touchless car washes only. These car washes have no parts (brushes, etc.) that touch the surfaces of Model 3. Using any other type of car wash could cause damage that is not covered by the warranty.

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

Tesla manual:

"Avoid using a high pressure power washer on the sensors"
"Avoid using a high-pressure power washer."
"Never spray liquid at a high velocity towards the charge port while charging. Failure to follow these instructions can result in serious injury or damage to the vehicle, charging equipment, or property.
"Avoid using a high pressure power washer on the camera(s) or parking sensors."

Tesla gives you more warnings about high pressure washes than the the soft brush car washes.

Neomaxizoomdweebie | 8 juin 2019

Try this:

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

Also the high pressure washes contribute to problems like this in winter when car washes gets used the most.

The touchless high pressure washes are not very good at getting car clean and they force water into areas where it causes trouble.

hugh | 8 juin 2019

Sooo... In one place the manual says no traditional carwashes with brushes, and in another it says no high pressure which by definition rules out touchless carwashes. Living in a city, washing it by hand in my own driveway isn't an option. So what is one to do? Let the car stay dirty, at which point the cameras become useless?

Lonestar10_1999 | 8 juin 2019

No, you cannot let the M3 remain dirty. From the manual....

To prevent damage to the paint, immediately remove corrosive substances (bird droppings, tree resin, dead insects, tar spots, road salt, industrial fallout, etc.). Do not wait until Model 3 is due for a complete wash. If necessary, use denatured alcohol to remove tar spots and stubborn grease stains, then immediately wash the area with water and a mild, non- detergent soap to remove the alcohol.

Mike UpNorth_ | 8 juin 2019



slasisi | 8 juin 2019

I had to go through this today, get the car in neutral-pain in the butt since I have never done that before, then the wipers took a while to fix that, getting the left front an back wheel to align to the car dragging thing through the car wash machine was a pain. Please Tesla sort this minor issue for us. THX.

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

@hugh "So what is one to do? Let the car stay dirty, at which point the cameras become useless?"

Most car manufacturers give out the same proforma warning on car washes. Judging from the Subaru with 95,000 miles on it, skiing, fishing and long commutes (24,000 a year typical) keeping the car clean with frequent automatic car washes is better than leaving it dirty. Car looks great for resale.

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

@slasisi "..getting the left front an back wheel to align to the car dragging thing through the car wash machine was a pain."

What do you mean about back wheel dragging? Did the brakes come on? What was the exact problem and how did you fix it.

McQueenie is going to need a wash sooner or later.

joe.lynn.atp | 8 juin 2019

Here’s your checklist:

1. When ordering your car, pick a lighter color that won’t show microscratches.
2. Before you leave your driveway, make sure you know how to shift to neutral: LPT: hold in at the half position for a second until you see the N appear. (At my first trip to the car wash I had to run to the front of the line and coach the driver into neutral after watching the automated track try to drag the parked car in twice)..
3. When you get to the car wash, turn off auto-wipers. Don’t forget to roll up windows.
4. If they want you to get out of the car, either put it in transport mode, or better yet, go somewhere else.
5. Don’t forget to tip the guys drying off your car.

Here in the salty mid-atlantic, I had to suck up all the FUD about auto washes here and just do it, because your rinseless formulas don’t do squat on a car with a complete salt crust in sub-freezing temps. My car looks fine after half dozen auto washes over the winter. I’m back to hand washing for the next 5 or 6 months.

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

Thanks. Sounds easy enough. The manual was a little unclear on if the car would stay in Neutral. Wanted to make sure there was not some undocumented "feature" that would result in Tesla locking up in the wash.

We are worse than Mid-Atlantic, we use gravel on the ice and snow and the red dust and rocks are a car disaster. Up and back skiing, you pretty much have to wash the car as soon as you get down from the mountain.

We have a great car wash at one of the gas stations, the guys rinse the car completely and use these soft brushes all over to get the visible dirt off and then into the car wash. I won't be getting my 10% of gas with car wash discount anymore but will get a good wash and wax.

joe.lynn.atp | 8 juin 2019

To be clear, it won’t stay in neutral if you get out of the car. It will shift into Park. It WILL stay in neutral if you stay in the driver’s seat and don’t open the door.

FISHEV | 8 juin 2019

Yes...staying in seat. Thanks.

slingshot18 | 8 juin 2019

I put it in park. Then wash it myself. I can do both cars in less time than it takes to drive to the car wash and watch someone else do it.

joe.lynn.atp | 9 juin 2019

@slingshot18: I agree that I would rather wash it myself. It's just not practical during the winter. I will do it 9 or 10 months of the year.

slingshot18 | 9 juin 2019

Ah, hadn’t considered that. I live in Southern California.

gmr6415 | 10 juin 2019

I wash mine by hand myself, but there are tons of places around that do a hand wash for as little as $10. Isn't that an option?

syclone | 10 juin 2019

I requested a car wash mode 10 months ago. They thought it was a wonderful idea in their reply. As usual, nothing was done. They put in the ultra practical fart mode, instead.

cosangwilli | 10 juin 2019


Wanderer | 10 juin 2019

I have creep mode off and I've noticed that when I have the foot off neither pedal it would roll forward or backward depending on incline. So if you got "creep" off and the car isn't on "Hold" then it is pretty much in neutral.

hokiegir1 | 10 juin 2019

We go through a drive through car wash a couple times a week. As others have said, as long as someone is in the driver seat, it stays in neutral. We have had it "hop" the push block once or twice because it's so free-rolling in neutral, but it's never been an issue (cars are spaced well enough that it's still not close).

kc4129 | 10 juin 2019

I need car wash mode. I hate the charge port being opened when I wash that area.

DanFoster1 | 10 juin 2019

A ‘Car Wash Mode’ is completely unnecessary.

• Creep off (should be off anyway; you do not need creep mode to make your Tesla impersonate an archaic car)
• Seat belt on (why would you take if off to ride through the car wash?)
• Don’t touch pedals

Enjoy the ride.

Techy James | 10 juin 2019

@kc4129 I have washed my car multiple times by hand now that temperature has gotten above freezing, but I never had the charge port open during the wash. Now I do typically walk away to get all the stuff setup after pulling out of garage to wash it, and have the auto lock enabled so the car locks before I get back with all the supplies setup to wash car. If you don't have auto lock enabled try locking door before starting the wash, then unless your putting more than light touch while washing the charge port shouldn't open.

Joshan | 10 juin 2019

@DanFoster1 so you are just leaving it in Drive with creep off? Is this one of the washes with the "Track" you drive into that pulls your car through by the wheel?

Techy James | 10 juin 2019

Now back to the Carwash checklist for using a carwash.

Prior to entering carwash:
1) Does car wash require you to get out? (If yes find new carwash facility, hate to see what the chemicals they use that you can't be in car for carwash.)
2) Turn off wipers
3) Make sure all windows are up
4) once in carwash enough that belt will move you forward engage neutral by holding shifter slightly up (enough to disable AP but not enough to click for reverse mode) for about 2 seconds
5) enjoy the ride
6) ignore warning of blind spot detection limited due to reduced visibility this is expected. If soap level of car wash doesn't trigger the warning, might want to consider another car wash facility.

At end of car wash area and light turns green to move forward
1) Engage Drive by lightly pressing break pedal and shifting down to engage drive mode
2) If has hand drying station, then move to Hand Drying Station, unlock doors so they can dry inside the door area
3) If location includes vacuum station, drive to Vacuum station, and use provided vacuum hoses to vacuum full interior of car
4) Enable Auto Wiper Mode and enjoy hassle free wash job.

Types of carwashes I use, are ones with low pressure soap and rinse stations and soft cloth wash strips.
Types of carwashes to avoid at all cost are one that use the revolving bristles to clean car, these will damage just about any car paint over time, and leave fine scratches in the paint.
Not recommended to use High Pressure car washes as they don't really clean the car.

After using carwash, I also during the vacuum stage, use additional steps:
1) For any stubborn Bug/Tar left on car use Bug and Tar remover like Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover.
2) Waterless Spray detailer for Car (I like the Turtle Wax Black Spray Detailer since my car is Black). I normally do this step when I get home after the car wash.

joebarrow11 | 10 juin 2019

I have powered spray my car about 4 times now and no issues. Obviously I didn't spray directly on the cameras and only used soap followed by rinse. My main concentration is in the front trying to spray off the bugs from the windshield, front grill, and hood. Again not directly spraying up close just from a good distance. I have had no errors and the car seems to be working accordingly.

Although now I have to find a car wash because I ran over a deer last night, yes you read that right an F'IN DEER. Scenario, me in the passing lane with car behind me and one on the right. Another car up ahead on the left side of the road with there hazard lights on. Now all of a sudden car in front hits brakes and swerves, me sees deer yells MOTHER F%#@#$! and ran over the dead carcass of a deer. Nothing I could have done for I had one car behind me and one on the right with somebody already on side of road with hazard lights on.

Ended up stopping at the gas station to look underneath and clean the bugs off my window. Ended up being some deer skin with fur on it that I used those window wipers to clean it off. Called my local Tesla shop and hey will look underneath it for me and check things out to make sure nothing is damaged. As far as I can see by looking underneath nothing appears to be bad with exception of deer fur. So with that being said I have a local car wash near that you drive through and I believe has an under spray. Only thing is it uses brushes and my M3 is black. Going to search around for a brushless carwash and go from there. Still that's my story for the day.

hokiegir1 | 10 juin 2019

@Techy James - the only thing I'd add to your list is a caution not to use the vacuum to clean an unwrapped console. Hubby did this and scratched the hell out of mine. Plus side: we weren't getting a wrap on it before that and I like the matte one we got much better than the shiny. We have a CF one now (just because -- nothing wrong with the current one).

DanFoster1 | 10 juin 2019

@Joshan, yes, that’s exactly correct. The track pulls you through. (Just don’t activate brake hold by mistake. But if you do, a simple tap on the brake and it let’s go.)

Many people don’t realize that ‘neutral’ in a Tesla is just the absence of power and brake hold. There is no mechanism to de-couple the drive motors from the wheels since this is not necessary in a electric vehicle. As long as one keeps his seat belt connected, the car will not activate the parking brake. So “drive” without brakes, and without the application of power is the same as “neutral.”

dmastro | 10 juin 2019

There is a really good automatic touchless car wash service near me. When I don't wash my car myself, my method is:

Drive dirty car to car wash
Give keycard to attendant
Read a book or do some work while I wait for the wash to be complete
Pay for wash and tip attendant
Drive clean car from car wash

Side note: The car wash attendant sits in the car and keeps in in neutral through the wash

Side side note: Those concerned about "the mission" will be happy to know almost all of the water at auto car washes is recycled, and this particular car wash is powered by solar.

Joshan | 10 juin 2019

Thanks @DanFoster1 that is great advice!!! every once in a while this forum is good avice and not just shorters.

DanFoster1 | 10 juin 2019

@Joshan, absolutely. I’m happy to help even one person who’s listening! Indeed, I continue to learn a great deal on this forum, though it’s difficult to cut through the crap.

wildblue | 10 juin 2019

Try looking for a mobile car wash service. I pay a guy to come to my house and wash my car. Costs a few dollars more than when I used to take my other car to a car wash. It's super convenient, and I've always been happy with the result.

Dan45 | 10 juin 2019

As posted once before in a different thread: do NOT raise your butt to reach for your wallet to put your credit card away while being pulled through an automatic wash. I did and the car apparently assumed the driver was exiting the vehicle and immediately put the car into park! Panic resulted, of course, while foot went onto brake and shift lever was moved into neutral with a shaky hand, as the wash pulley made an unscheduled movement under the left rear wheel. No damage that we could notice except to the driver's ego . . . .

FISHEV | 10 juin 2019

@Wanderer “I have creep mode off and I've noticed that when I have the foot off neither pedal it would roll forward or backward depending on incline. So if you got "creep" off and the car isn't on "Hold" then it is pretty much in neutral.”

I was thinking about doing that but leery of some Tesla blowback that if it detects movement it will lock up somehow or could it somehow damage something.

DanFoster1 | 11 juin 2019

@Dan45, if the driver’s seat belt is buckled, the car will not engage the parking brake.

Dan45 | 12 juin 2019

Generally I don't leave the garage without fastening my seat belt, since one saved my life in a '68 2002 in 1970 (16-year old decided to pass a school bus on a curve in a South Chicago Heights forest preserve). But that piece of plastic sitting on the M3 console got the better of me and I couldn't not try to put it back in my wallet while being pulled through the car wash. I won't try that again . . . .

eztider | 12 juin 2019

Thanks. Now I'm going back to asking for a hand wash. Not worth the stress to let them take it through the tunnel. But worth the extra $17 cost per wash.

chudley78 | 12 juin 2019

make sure the doors are locked otherwise charge port may open

FISHEV | 12 juin 2019

"make sure the doors are locked otherwise charge port may open."

Manual says charge port can only open when car is in Park. Are their situations where the charge port opens and the car is not in Park?

richard.corder | 26 septembre 2019

Looks like it's just been added with V10.0 of the software "Car-Wash Mode"!

aptwo | 26 septembre 2019

Whomever made this thread need to off themselves