What is a self-service car wash and what should you know about it?

So, a self-service car wash is a game-changer. In this case, you have to go to the garage or the service center and wash your car manually. Therefore, as the owner of the car, you can control what tools or resources you will use to clean your car. The self-service car will give you access to those as per the payment you make. So, you go in there whenever you want or whenever it is time for your car and wash your car all by yourself. Hence, if your car has any issues or any old and fragile parts or you do not trust your car with a machine, this one’s for you. There is no automatic washing for your car in this system and hence you do not have to stick to any schedule. You come, clean your car and leave.

The name self-service itself means that you have to do the job yourself. Moreover, if you are a conscious car owner you will not let a machine wash your car every time just because it is easier and it takes less time. So, this is because the abrasive chemicals might harm your car a lot in a machine wash. On the other hand, when you do it yourself, you get to decide what to use and what not to. So, your car receives better treatment at the self-service car wash. Therefore, you must go for it when you have the time and energy.

However, it might not be very clear what to do once you have gone for a self-service car wash, especially if you are a new owner. Let us see what steps you need to follow.

Self-service car wash equipment

So, a self-service car wash involves two basic parts. First, you need to clean the car, and then you need to rinse and dry it before leaving. Therefore, the cleaning part involves parking at an empty spot and getting the formalities done at the wash facility before actually washing it with soap and water. Let us go through the steps first and then we will see the rinsing and drying part.

Parking the car properly

The first step in a self-service car wash is to park your car in a proper way such that you can move around it and clean it. So, you need to park it in the bay area and wait for your turn if it is easy. Moreover, the car must be at the center of the bay else you will not be able to walk around.

Cleaning the floor mats

So, before you start washing the car, bring out the floor mats and hang them on the bay with the metal clips that are available. Moreover, this step is particularly crucial if your mats are made of rubber or plastic. However, if you do not have metal clips in your car, just lean them by the wall and wash them later on. But, in case you have a carpeted floor inside the car, you must not take that out while cleaning.

Paying the money to the self-service car wash machine

Hence, this is obviously the most crucial step for you to begin your self-service car wash. So, you have to enter the money via cash or card. The payment is taken based on how many minutes you will take for the service. However, as soon as you pay the money, the sprayer will wash the car. Therefore, it is crucial you are ready when you pay the money. Moreover, if you pay via card, the money will be deducted from the card depending on how long you spent before you pressed the stop button. For cash, you have to restart the machine if you want to exceed the duration you paid for.

Setting the dial to wash or pre-soak in the self-service car wash machine

So, now go to the machine that controls the settings of the spray wand in the self-service car wash. There will be a bunch of available options on a dial. So, turn the knob and set it to wash if your car is moderately dirty and to pre-soak if it is really very dirty.

Keeping a safe distance during the self-service car wash

So, this is a very important step. You must maintain a distance of at least 3 to 5 feet from your car otherwise the pressure of the spray can cause damage to the surface of your car.

Rinsing the entire car with water

So now, squeeze the handle of the spray to release a water flow with high pressure. Spray on the entire vehicle, move around and ensure that the surface dirt has all gone. Moreover, do not forget to rinse the mirrors, the floor mats, the undercarriage, and most importantly the wheels. In case you had set the mode to pre-wash, change it to wash after your first round of spray. Therefore, following this, take another round.

Applying the soap

So now go back to the self-service car wash machine and change the dial to the soap option. Now, on pulling the handle, you will get a soapy stream. Therefore, take a few laps with it around the car till you ensure all the dirt stuck to the car surface or wheels has gone, especially the dirtiest sections like the part under the doors.

Rinsing the foam brush in a self-service car wash

So, you will find the foam brush somewhere near the self-service car wash machine. If someone has used it previously, there might still be dirt on it. So, clean it with the spray wand first. If you are a conscious car owner, you can also bring your own sponge from home and fill a tub of soapy water with the spray wand.

Brushing the car in a self-service car wash

So, manual scrubbing is one of the most crucial parts of a self-service car wash as it cleans the dirt and makes your car sparkly. From the roof to the end of the doors, rub the foam brush. Hence, having done this, clean the wheels. However, remember to move the dirt from the foam brush or the sponge once in a while else it will get muddy. Do not rub the tires first and do not forget to clean the floor mats that you had placed outside.

Cleaning the tires

Therefore, these are the dirtiest parts of a car and definitely demand special attention. So, get back to the self-service car wash machine and now set the dial to “Wheel and Tire.” Again, you will have the spray nozzle, wash your tires with it, and do not forget to scrub them with the foam brush or sponge!

So now, the cleaning part in a self-service car wash is completed. Let us now take a look at what you must do to rinse and dry it.

Rinsing the car mats

So, we have already gone through this but if you rinse your car mats before rinsing the entire car it is always better. Therefore, the car mats get enough time to dry up before you place them back after the self-service car wash. Moreover, you do not forget about them as well.

Using the spray wand again in your self-service car wash

So, you have cleaned the car. Now, you have to wash off the foam properly. Therefore, get the spray wand again and take a few laps. Remember to wash off from top to bottom. Moreover, get it done quickly else there will be a layer of soap on the surface of your car. Make sure no soap remains on the car.

Waxing your car

So again go back to the self-service car wash machine and set the dial to the wax option. Therefore, you get the spray nozzle again for waxing. With it make the final round around your car. This is a crucial step because it will seal the clean and shiny surface of your car. Therefore, it will prevent dirt and dust from gathering on the paint for quite some time. Moreover, it also helps to dry the car faster. So, you must go for it if you stay in humid weather conditions.

Using a spot free rinse in your self-service car wash

So, after adding wax to your car, you need to wash it off. Therefore, head back to the self-service car wash machine and set the dial to “Spot Free Rinse.” Hence, now you have filtered water in the spray wand. Clean the entire car with it from top to bottom.

Drying your car with the air dry nozzle

So, you will not get this option at all self-service car wash facilities. However, if your center is a recent one, you must. Therefore, if you have a shortage of time and want to dry your car fast, set the dial to “Air Dry”, and then use the hose to dry your car. So, again move from top to bottom. This will slowly push the water down the surface of the car. Moreover, for faster drying, you can bring a microfiber towel from home.

Stopping the self-service car wash machine

So, now you have completed washing, rinsing, and drying the car. Therefore, go back to the self-service car wash machine and put back the wand. Having done this, press the “stop” option. So, till you press the “stop” option, they will be charging you.

Self-service car wash engine cleaner

So, cleaning your engine at any time demands a lot of attention, especially during a self-service car wash. However, if you are a new owner it is advisable you don’t because if water gets into the electrical components, there will be permanent damage. Therefore, keep plastic bags and electrical tape ready at hand. So, cover the parts with a plastic bag and then fix them with tape.

Self-service car wash cost

So, the cost of a self-service car wash might vary from center to center, place to place. However, under any circumstance, they cost way less than an automated car wash. In most cases, they cost around a dollar for every minute you spend on the bay. Therefore, it depends on how much time you take to clean the car, or how dirty your car is. However, this is a generic costing and might not be the same everywhere.

Self-service car wash FAQs

Is it better to go to a car wash or do it yourself?

Ans. Well technically, at a self-service car wash, you do wash the car by yourself. However, if the question is between automated and self-service, the latter is cheaper, allows you better handling, and gives you control. However, if you lack time and energy, go for the automated one. The other part is if you should clean it at home. You can do that but you will not have the equipment you get here, and you might not have adequate space for proper cleaning.

Is it good to wash your car at a car wash?

Ans. So, if you are going for a self-service car wash and handling the car very cautiously, it is good! This way you do not allow abrasive chemicals or too much water pressure to fall on your car which protects the surface. However, at the same time, you manage to clean the dirt.

How often should you wash your car?

Ans. So, as a rule, under normal circumstances, you should wash your car every 14 days. However, if you drive through highways and muddy or dirty places constantly, this will not be sufficient. So, you have to suit yourself.

Does using a car wash scratch your car?

Ans. Yes, if you are using an automatic car wash because the brushes will slowly wear off the paint. However, if you are going for a self-service car wash you do not need to worry about that part at all.

How do I dry my car after washing it?

Ans. So, there are various options to dry your car at a self-service car wash facility. Swipe up and read “Drying your car with the air dry nozzle” for further details. Moreover, waxing also helps in faster drying of the car. Using a microfiber towel is also of great help since it does not leave any marks.

Do you turn your engine off in a car wash?

Ans. For a self-service car wash, you do turn off both the engine and the ignition unless the car manual asks you to do something else.