Automatic car wash-just the facts - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community

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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Automatic car wash-just the facts

How many of you regularly put your evora through an automatic car wash?

I understand that the manual says to avoid them and I have searched and found threads that quickly turned into political/environmental discussions or people who treat their evora as a prized possession saying "I wouldn't".

I am looking for real world experiences of "have done it for years without issue" or "did it until I encountered a problem" or "avoid high pressure but the auto brush washes are fine"

I hand wash my Elise due to leaks but plan to use my evora daily (including long road trips). I will maintain the car well, but plan to put over 100,000 miles on it so ability to auto wash would be nice.


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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 04:31 PM
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NO, NO AUTO CAR WASH. NO HAND WASH EITHER.

Though this all depends at what your expectations are.

Do swirl marks bother you?

Do you want the highest gloss shine you can get or are you just as happy that your car is clean?

High expectations? NO AUTO OR HAND WASH

Lower expectations? Don't sweat it.


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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 04:38 PM
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My white Evora has gone through several automatic touchless car wash for years and has not had any issue so far. Paint still looks good.
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by O LEE O View Post
NO, NO AUTO CAR WASH. NO HAND WASH EITHER.

Though this all depends at what your expectations are.

Do swirl marks bother you?

Do you want the highest gloss shine you can get or are you just as happy that your car is clean?

High expectations? NO AUTO OR HAND WASH

Lower expectations? Don't sweat it.


Lee (Owner Operator of Professional Obsessive Car Detailing)
Wait, how do you wash it if you can't hand wash it?

I do the two bucket wash thing and change my washing cloths often, then machine wash them after.
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 05:20 PM
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Wait, how do you wash it if you can't hand wash it?

I do the two bucket wash thing and change my washing cloths often, then machine wash them after.
I usually use the two bucket wash with a hose about once a year and that seems to do the most damage (very light scratches) to the car no matter how careful I try to be. I apply a good layer of wax after full clay bar after the wash. (takes forever!)

Every other time, I use waterless wash bottles and spray each section down one at a time. The waterless wash and wax that I use hasn't given me any trouble with maintaining the glossy shine. This still takes a while, but it's only about 4 hours each time rather than about 12 hours to hose wash, clay bar, wax, vacuum and clean all windows inside and out. Could I go faster, yes, but I'm kinda picky, so I don't.

My suggestion to the OP is to not run through any automatic wash. Just set time aside each week to wash it down during the weekend if you'd like to keep it looking sparkly. Yeah, it's not fast, but I look at it as bonding time so it's worth it.

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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 05:29 PM
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 05:45 PM
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I run it through the touchless carwash every month or so.
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 06:58 PM
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At home I do the Junkman's two-bucket wash (with grit traps in the buckets) Here is a link to the Junkman who can show you how to properly care for your car's finish under almost any circumstance.
The guy's s genius savant with a touch of OCD. Don't underestimate the Junkman!

When I'm forced on the road to wash my car I bring a small bucket and multiple microfiber towels and scrubees, Invisible Glass cleaner, and some Formula 409. Look for a do-it -yourself coin-op hand spray stall then soak and then spray down from the top to the bottom, Blast bottom mud off if necessary but be careful not to blast paint. Rinse soap thoroughly and wheel the car outside for a high quality detailer spray applied your best microfiber clothes. All of these supplies fit into an average/small sized bucket. I've discovered Adams Super VRT to rub into any plastic parts that are showing sun-damaged age. (Use a soft sponge) Trim will look factory new.
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 04:28 AM
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When I first got my car I used a power washer on it for about the first 6 months of ownership. Real world experience and costly mistake. It ruined the clear coat on the car. I had to pay to have the clear coat fixed and while not super expensive it was not cheap. Never power wash you Lotus and never, I mean never go through an automatic car wash!
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 05:03 AM
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Daily drivers? I run them thru the car wash every couple weeks then have them detailed 2-3x per year to get the swirls out. But those are not a Lotus.

Collector/fun cars? No way! Handwash only but I never let them get too dirty. Wipe down w/ microfiber and quick detailer after about every drive, the put the car covers on. After trackdays I remove rubber w/ Mothers R3, then either wash or wipe down depending on how dirty. They never see snow, rarely see rain. In the winter I put them up on jackstands, remove the wheels and do a thorough detailing top and bottom, clean the wheels off the car, etc.

Touchless car wash- Uses harsh chemicals to remove dirt, bugs, etc and probably takes wax with it. High pressure water can be damaging (pressure washers are used to remove paint during pre-paint prep!!). Car only gets 80% clean, leaves a film. Karcher (german) seems to be the best one that I have used, but still harsh chemicals and leaves a film.

Non-touchless car wash - Probably better with chemicals but can drag the paint if the car in front of you had a lot of mud/dirt/rocks on it. Car does get a lot cleaner. Newer washes use a special material that supposedly does not pickup dirt but I doubt it's perfect.

Both seem to leave a little soap behind. Pick you poison or avoid all together.

I use a non-touchless on my daily drivers, I'm too busy to hand wash and detail my cars every 2 weeks. I used to get them detailed about every 4-6 weeks but that got to be super costly. When I do wash at home I use the two bucket technique as described above w/ grit guards in the bottom of the buckets.

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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 08:03 AM
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For those "hand wash" places, did you ever watch what they do with their "mitts" from car to car?

I wash mine thoroughly from wash to wash.

They go from car to car with just a rinse (if you're lucky).

Again, it all depends on your expectations and preferences.
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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 08:57 AM
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When I first got my car I used a power washer on it for about the first 6 months of ownership. Real world experience and costly mistake. It ruined the clear coat on the car. I had to pay to have the clear coat fixed and while not super expensive it was not cheap. Never power wash you Lotus and never, I mean never go through an automatic car wash!
The key with a power washer is to stay back at least two feet from painted surfaces. Much closer and the water pressure itself is abrasive. Check to see if the water stings your hand at a certain distance - if so you are spraying too close.

If the car has visible grit on the surface use a very low power soap setting to slowly float off as much as possible first.

That said, I very much prefer a careful two bucket hand wash over using power equipment.
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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 08:00 PM
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There Is a reason it states not to use a power washer on your Lotus trust me from experience. One rock chip In the clear coat sets it all in action. A lot depends on the power of your power washer, mine was not very powerful. The ones at auto car washes and at self serve car washes are much more powerful. You can say stay back x feet but why in the heck would anyone take the chance when people have let others know from experience this is not a good thing and can be very costly. You all want to "think" you are the one that will have all the luck more power to you.

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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 02:14 AM
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Why would you hand wash one and not the other?

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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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Why would you hand wash one and not the other?

Your question helps me clarify my initial question. A few reasons:

Elise will only be driven 3 seasons and in nice weather. Accordingly, frequency of washing will be limited. In addition, the Elise NEEDS to be hand washed since it leaks (even in moderate rain).

Evora will be daily driver and roadtrip car (pickup truck when salt is on roads). I put about 25-30k miles on my cars annually so it will get dirty frequently. My perception is that The Evora can be treated much more like a normal car than the Elise.



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post #16 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 05:07 AM
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One can spray into a bucket.

But, even when I use a hose it's a very gentle spray.

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post #17 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 06:35 AM
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Its not a Telefunken U46. I handwash everything, don't get anal about it and Elise ,with no ugly clear bra crap looked FABULOUS to 2nd purchaser after 8+ yrs with lots of track time. Garage queen mentality is not needed on these cars. I'm not a Car wash fan because they clean half as$ed IMHO, but all this 2 bucket blabla b=lah etc is overkill. A couiple of times/yr I just do Mother's #2 and all the minutia is gone. Collinite Insulator Wax makes for a bullet proof beading layer. People see my Evora S at track days and still think its new with just good basic care. Now if your therapist recommends it, by all means......but this is exactly why I hate car shows. They are the domain of the psychologically unsound OCD types.

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post #18 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 08:29 AM
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Mine would leak if I took it through a car wash and that is after a dealer has adjusted the windows to seal better.

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post #19 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 01:07 PM
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Mine would leak if I took it through a car wash and that is after a dealer has adjusted the windows to seal better.
Lotus has a new side window and door seal that solves this problem, just had them installed. Back on topic. I daily drive my car all summer. I wash it as little as possible, sometimes I just do the brake dust on the wheels. I have used a hand wand wash on all my cars, as long as you stay back a couple of feet I don't see an issue. I also hand wash my car with a single bucket and a hose. swirls be damned, I will buff it out before I sell it.
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post #20 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 08:12 AM
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I've only had mine for less than 2 weeks so I'm not the best one to comment here.. buut i will lol

Based of past experiences, I personally don't ever do automatic washes, I used to have a Volvo C30 and had an experience where one ripped off 2 trim pieces. so after that I stopped them forever.. I mostly go to the diy pressure washing places. i always stay pretty far back so its really not that much pressure. I also avoid the soap at some of those places, I've found that they can strip layers of wax off the paint. Never into the clear though. I also spray in the opposite direction of the seals. I'm hoping to do the same with the Evora.

I do have a washing Evora question related to washing though!


is there anyway to clean inside any of the intake vents? I recently got hit with bird poop directly into the vent right behind the drivers side door. I always clean bird poop off the same day it happens, but how to do you get in there to clean it? q-tips are all I've been able to do so far lol
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