Everyone likes to have a clean car. When your car looks great, you feel great driving it around. Keeping your car’s exterior clean also helps extend the life of the paint job. Air pollutants, salt from the roads, and even bugs that hit the car can eat away your paint job if not promptly removed.
So, where is the best place to get your car washed? If you do not want to wash your vehicle at home, the only other option is a car wash service. You can choose from a gas station car wash or a stand-alone car wash center.
Which one is better, gas station or stand-alone? The answer is it depends.
Everything You Need to Know About Gas Station Car Wash Centers
Many gas station chains have car wash services. The car wash service can vary depending on the station. Some stations offer drive-thru service, while others may have attendants at the wash center who provide additional services like waxing, hand drying, or vacuuming the vehicle’s interior.
Car wash services at gas stations are either touchless services or brush services. Touchless services use powerful jets of water to wash your vehicle as it passes through the wash center. Brush services mean that soap brushes will engage the vehicle as it passes through, then it is rinsed off before it exits the car wash area. Either of these may have automatic drying services at the end of the wash, which consists of hot air being blown on the vehicle as it passes through.
Brush Service Pros and Cons
Brush car washing service can be very good for cars that have a lot of dirt on their exteriors. The contact of the soapy brushes with the vehicle helps remove heavier amounts of dirt and grime.
However, brushes that are not properly maintained can lead to scratches on your vehicle. Additionally, if your antenna does not retract, or your side view mirrors do not move, they can bend or break these two items.
Touchless Service Pros and Cons
The high-powered jets found in touchless services are very good at cleaning your vehicle. You do not have to worry about anything except water touching your car. The jets are pointed in all directions, so all areas of your vehicle are cleaned.
On the down side, if the spray jets are not properly cleaned, you may find some missed areas of your vehicle that did not get cleaned.
Cost Benefits of Using a Gas Station Car Wash
Depending on the extent of the services provided and your location, a gas station car wash can cost anywhere between five to fifteen dollars. Most places average right around ten. The great news is that most gas stations offer discounts for this service.
Large chain stores often have rewards programs that will give you discounts or even a free car wash after so many purchases. Other rewards programs give car wash discounts with fuel purchases. It will depend on the program. Some loyalty programs are designed specifically for the car wash center and offers a free wash after so many paid washes.
Smaller gas stations often offer incentives for their car wash center as well to encourage customers to use their service. Always ask to find out if there are any promotions available for their car wash service; you never know what discounts you can get.
Stand Alone Car Wash Centers
Stand-alone car wash centers, not including the DIY spray wash centers, offer more services than gas station car wash areas. These centers either have a drive-thru wash center that is followed by hand cleaning and care, or the vehicles are all washed by hand.
Most of these car wash centers offer additional services like tire cleaning, hand waxing, and interior cleaning services.
Since a majority of these services are provided by an attendant, you can expect to pay anywhere from 25 to 100 dollars for a full detailing service. If this is what you want for your vehicle, it can be well worth the cost.
The only real drawback for this type of service is the cost and perhaps the time needed for the complete service to be finished. Many stand-alone car wash chains will run specials during off peak times or hold promotions for discounted services. Some have rewards programs that give you discounts, and others have membership programs where you pay a flat rate each month for weekly car washing services.
So Which Service is the Best?
The best car wash service depends on your needs. If you only want a comprehensive cleaning and detailing for your vehicle, you are better off at a stand-alone car wash center with attendants. If you want the daily dirt and grime cleaned off your vehicle, the gas station car wash might fit the bill.
Always remember to run a VINsmart report on any used vehicle before making a purchase. A VINsmart report runs a complete history on the vehicle including whether it has ever been reported as stolen, involved in a major accident, or listed as a totaled vehicle.
VINsmart reports will also give you a registration history and mileage at registration. It reports any significant incidents related to the vehicle, such as being involved in a fire or flood.
When you are going to purchase a used vehicle, the best way to ensure you are making a good purchase is to know the vehicle’s complete history.