What’s not to like about going through an automatic car wash? There’s a cool disco song to get stuck in your head, you get to feel like you’re inside a gigantic dishwasher, and your car gets sparkling clean at the press of a button. Maybe it’s my inner child, but going through the automatic car wash is always a fun time. But these clean machines always a good idea? For example, can you take your vehicle wrap through a car wash?
We get this question a lot, and, like so many of the questions we write about here, the answer isn’t quite a completely straightforward yes or no. Technically, nothing is stopping you from taking your vehicle wrap through a car wash, but we don’t recommend it.
Strong jets to water pointed at seams could cause them to lift, causing unsightly gaps or rips in your wrap. Also, some automatic car washes have brushes with harsh bristles, which can scratch and tear your vinyl wrap. Even if you make it through the car wash without any damage that is immediately apparent, automatic car washes tend to shorten the overall life span of a vehicle wrap.
What should you do instead? We recommend hand washing your vehicle with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth and non-abrasive soap. Try not to spray the vehicle with the full force of a hose nozzle too close, as too much pressure in certain areas might cause the same problems as an automatic car wash. You can take your vehicle wrap to be washed by hand at a service center, but make sure that the technicians know not to be too rough on your wrap. You wouldn’t want a couple of dollars for a hurried, high-pressure car wash to lead to a couple hundred (or more!) in vehicle wrap repair!