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How to Find the Right Car Wash Near Me

We all love the freedom of choice. Whether it’s which pizza to order, vacation spot to visit, and which hotel to stay, it’s common for consumers to rely on the old Google search engine to find services close to them. This includes looking for the best car wash near me typed into the search bar.

The main problem though – is not finding a car wash in your community – it’s finding the right car wash near you. Different car washes are designed for unique consumer benefits. Some are easy, cheap, and convenient, while others are more sophisticated, better on the paint surface, and produces a higher quality car washing experience.

So, how do you know which type of car wash near me is right for you? Which one of those in the car wash industry will give you a clean car, or are there auto detailing services that are better than others? This is what we’ll explore in today’s Ceramic Pro blog.

In the content below, we’ll explain the different options when you search for car washing options near me on the internet. We will likewise outline the pros and cons of each and provide a roadmap to let you know which washing method is best to keep your car in top condition.

Tips for Choosing a Car Wash Near Me

Let’s start this article with a question. How long should you wait to have your car washed? According to the experts at Consumer Reports, washing a car, truck, or SUV is best every two weeks. While there are certain situations that require a quicker wash (like if your car is exposed to harsh chemicals, after a snowstorm, and such) every two weeks is a good starting point.

Most of the time when we search for car washes near me on Google, we’re looking for the closest, most convenient, and sometimes – cheapest option. However, this can, and often lead to poor washing jobs, and can cause damage to your vehicle.

As such, it’s important to set aside a set of criteria that will help you find the best car wash near you, for the vehicle you own.

What’s the Best Car Washing Option?

It’s quite common for those of us in the professional paint protection industry to talk about the two-bucket method of car washing. There is a reason for this – as it’s by far, the best way to wash a car – with reduced potential for scratching the surface.

This method includes using two buckets – a freshwater bucket and one filled with soapy water. Basically, you use the soap bucket to saturate the wash mitt – and use the freshwater bucket to wash the dirty wash mitt after each section. This removes dirt and debris that can be spread across your cars surface while washing, which leads to swirl marks and other type of clear coat damage.

However, the two-bucket method isn’t for everybody – as it’s rather labor intensive. Plus, you need plenty of space, a water hose, a hand that is used to work, and can’t really do this in direct sunlight. However, again – our friends at Consumer Reports suggest it’s the best way to reduce damage caused by car washing.

So, if a hand car wash or washing your car personally isn’t your thing, there are a few important items to consider when looking for the best carwash.

What are Your Car Wash Service Options?

Generally, there are four different types of mobile car wash facilities that will show up when you search for a car wash near me on Google, or your favorite search engine. And by mobile car wash we’re talking about those you’ll need to be mobile – not having someone come to you.

  • Automatic Drive Through Car Washes
  • Touchless Car Wash
  • Full-Service Car Washing Facilities
  • Professional Car Wash and Detailing Auto Salons

Here are some pros and cons to consider about each of the locations mentioned above.

Automatic Drive Through Car Wash

This is the most common and cheapest way to wash your car. You simply drive up to the facility (usually located at a gas station), choose a washing ‘package’, pay for it, and drive through. The machines will do everything for you – including applying soap, wash the vehicle with industrial wash strips or circular machines, rinse, and blow dry (based on the package you choose).

However, these car washes are notorious for damaging side view mirrors, radio antennae (if your car still has one of those things) and can crack windshields. More than anything else, they always cause swirl marks or minor scratches in the clear coat of the finish. This is due to the cheap, pH strong degreasing soaps used, and the industrial strength washing cloths used.

Pros of Using an Automatic Car Wash

  • It’s Cheap, Quick, and Convenient
  • You can select multiple package options
  • Takes only a few minutes and you don’t need to leave your car
  • Sometimes offer a Free Vacuum

Cons of Using an Automatic Car Wash

More potential for damaging your vehicle. These facilities use harsh brushes to serve as the car wash option. While it’s ok for washing a tire, it’s not good for your ride’s finish.

  • Little to no customer support or service (in case the machine doesn’t work but takes your money)
  • Poor washing results (even when using the maximum packages)
  • Paint damage or swirl marks are highly probable
  • Unlimited Wash packages can be pricey.

Touchless Car Wash

The touchless car wash is quickly growing in popularity, mainly because of the negative potential of damage mentioned above of its competitor. This type of facility is separated into two different washing methods.

Drive Through: The drive through touchless car wash is like the automated one mentioned above. However, instead of wash ‘wheels’ or strips of industrial cloth causing damage, it uses high pressure water to wash and rinse.

Self-Serve: The second type is a self-serve touchless car wash. This is the car wash you drive into a bay, and use a high-pressure hose to rinse, apply soap, and rinse off. These facilities often have a ‘foaming brush’ that spits out sudsy shampoo that you can use to wash debris off your vehicle.

Pros of a Touchless Car Wash

  • Less likelihood of scratching – however, using the handheld foam brush is a surefire way to damage the finish of your ride.
  • Can be less expensive than some auto washes. The self-serve locations are usually quarter-activated, so it’s like a vending machine.

Cons of a Touchless Car Wash

  • The quality of water: Most of these facilities use recycled water – which is great for the environment, but not so great for washing your ride.
  • The quality of cleaning: The touchless method removes surface dirt but does not wash off embedded dirt or stuck on grime like bug splatters or bird droppings or brake dust very well.

Full-Service Car Wash

This is what many people consider to be a premium car wash experience. While it’s much better than the two mentioned above, it’s not as full-service as you’d think. Most of these locations will send the exterior of your car through an automated car wash machine, that is often touchless in design. Some even offer oil change or oil check services.

Once the car is washed, they will drive it to a drying station, where the car receives a quick vacuum, dried by the technicians, windows cleaned, and based on the upgrade you pay for, might even spray it down with some quick detailer on the inside and outside.

Pros of a Full-Service Car Wash

  • It’s an upgrade from the two mentioned above
  • Packages can be added for minor detailing services
  • Cleaned windows and even custom fragrance sprays if you ask for them

Cons of a Full-Service Car Wash

  • Not a great value. It ranges from basic wash to interior and wheel cleaning.
  • Detailing services are minor, and can be overpriced
  • Not an exceptional car wash. If adding wax treatment, embedded dirt and debris will be trapped under the wax, and that’s not good for paint protection. In fact, it can expedite oxidation and damage clear coats quicker.

Professional Auto Salons and Detailers

The top-shelf car washing experience is one provided by professional auto salons or detailers. These are ones you’ll find with positive reviews on Yelp or Google Listings. The professional auto salon or car detailer provides complete car washing and detailing services, that are always customized for you, completed by hand, based your budget, and desires.

In fact, many of these professional facilities offer monthly maintenance or car wash services, for a flat annual, bi-annual, or monthly fee. The car wash and detailing is always completed using high-quality car shampoos formulated specifically for the type of paint protection product your car current possesses.

If you have a waxed vehicle, they’ll use supplies designed for that type of product. If you have a vinyl wrap or PPF, they can customize cleaning for those as well.

Recently, a growing professional detailing service becoming more popular in urban cities and metro areas is the mobile detailer. According to, the mobile detailer service is often a service offered by brick and mortar locations, or those who focus 100% on direct-to-customer detailing. Some mobile car detailing service companies will wash by hand or use high-pressure hoses. But, they do a great job.

The Pros of a Professional Detailer

  • A customized car washing experience
  • Exceptional car cleanliness on the outside and inside
  • No potential of damage to the surface
  • Only use high-quality supplies
  • Professionally trained detailers

Cons of a Professional Detailer

  • It’s not the cheapest car wash near you
  • You’ll have to schedule appointments

How a Professional Detailer Can Protect Your Vehicle from Damage

Most professional detailers are authorized and certified providers of high-quality paint protection products, such as paint protection film or a nano ceramic coating. These top-shelf paint protection solutions utilize nanotechnology and space-age materials that can self-heal minor scratches.

The detailer will sit down with you to explain the different types and packages available with Ceramic Pro 9H ceramic coatings or paint protection films like Kavaca Instant Healing PPF. The packages are based on warranties or the longevity of protection delivered by the product. And, contrary to myth, there is typically a protection package for every budget and type of vehicle.

When you take the proactive measure of having a professional detailer install ceramic coating for cars or PPF like Kavaca, your car will stay cleaner – for longer periods. It makes washing a car simple, quick, and more effective. Plus, if you live near trees, or have a car with a target for birds, removing the sticky stuff is a snap.

What the Best Car Wash Near Me?

In the end, you’ll have to determine what type of car wash is best for your individual car, budget, and preferences. However, if you’re looking for a superior car washing experience that will treat your car with respect and care, nothing best the team of certified auto salon partners of Ceramic Pro.

Our network of more than 3,000 authorized auto salons and professional detailers not only apply Ceramic Pro paint protection products, but also can customize a car washing experience that is affordable and always produces exceptional results.

If you’re searching for a car wash near me on Google, always consider the pros and cons. If you follow the tips listed above, you’ll find one that keeps your car clean, protected from exposure to elements, and will produce a brilliant shine you’ll be proud to showcase around town.

Geoff D

Author Geoff D

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