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Black Paint + Automatic Car Wash = Swirl Marks?


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Hey I've an Obsidian black IS350, and everywhere i turn people tell me not to go to an automatic drive through car wash with it. Now normally i dont mind washing my car in my driveway by hand but the problem is its winter right now and its way too cold here to wash it, but the dirt is really settling and i need to do something.

Will the paint really develop swirl marks?

Thanks for any help!

Oh and let me know if you like the Mini IS i made on my avatar! lol.

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Generally a car wash will induce marring into the paint yes. Theres one here that I've used several times for the same reason thats not bad, they do extensive spraying before the cars enter the wash (this is key, the wash mechanisms pick up salt and sand and drag it on all the other cars that go through the wash) and they use microfiber towels to wipe the cars down (this is AlSO key, often most of the swirling comes from the wipedown with nasty, dirty towels afterwards.

That wash costs $35 a wash though.

The better approach is to hire a professional detailer with references to hand wash it for you.

IMHO touchless washes are almost as bad as normal carwashes. For one they never get the car completely clean, for another they use extremely harsh chemicals that strip any wax from the surface and age all the plastic and seals.

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I don't think you can say that about touchless car washes in general. Some may not be so good, but I've been using the same one for almost 4 years and have seen none of those supposed problems. I will agree though that many of the car washes at gas stations don't do a really good job of cleaning.

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I don't think you can say that about touchless car washes in general. Some may not be so good, but I've been using the same one for almost 4 years and have seen none of those supposed problems. I will agree though that many of the car washes at gas stations don't do a really good job of cleaning.

I agree!

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I've used many of them too, and you're right they vary in quality but none of them will clean a vehicle completely, unless its only very slightly dirty in the first place.

In terms of chemicals...think about it. How do they clean dirt from the surface of the car without touching it? By the use of chemicals.

All of these things have their place and I use them too, but none of them would replace proper washing in my car maintenance routine.

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I agree BUT are these chemicals bad? Are they bad long term? Do these cause direct damage? Overtime? How is this not "proper washing"? Define proper washing? I have used Chemical products (acid) on my wheels and have yet to see damage. In fact, the road salt in MA causes more then the acid wheel cleaners.

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I've used many of them too, and you're right they vary in quality but none of them will clean a vehicle completely, unless its only very slightly dirty in the first place.

In terms of chemicals...think about it. How do they clean dirt from the surface of the car without touching it? By the use of chemicals.

All of these things have their place and I use them too, but none of them would replace proper washing in my car maintenance routine.

Picky picky picky. I only use the one car wash and the only time cloth or anything else touches my car is when I detail it. I'll put my car's finish up against yours any day, big boy. :D

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I agree BUT are these chemicals bad? Are they bad long term? Do these cause direct damage? Overtime? How is this not "proper washing"? Define proper washing? I have used Chemical products (acid) on my wheels and have yet to see damage. In fact, the road salt in MA causes more then the acid wheel cleaners.

I believe they are not good for certain components of the vehicle long term. Plastic components.

By proper washing I mean a detailed wash by hand using a good soap formulated for automotive finishes.

Picky picky picky. I only use the one car wash and the only time cloth or anything else touches my car is when I detail it. I'll put my car's finish up against yours any day, big boy.

haha. After a detail I'm sure it'd be a wash (no pun intended)

BUT

After me taking 40 minutes and handwashing my car after a period of rain and bad weather and you taking yours to the touchless, I'd take that bet. Putting any question about chemicals and their effects aside, the touchless wash doesn't do any detailed work to the wheels, leaves road film on the paint and the glass which hides the true beauty of the paint. I don't consider that clean ;)

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"I only ever use the touchless car wash. Some of them are pretty good. My car has never been through a brush or felt car wash and has never been washed by hand."

Most probably at least once... at the port of entry... your car was sent thru a car wash immediately after downloading it from the ship that brought it from Japan...

and probably another time at the dealer before delivery...

that makes two minimum... ;)

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I agree BUT are these chemicals bad? Are they bad long term? Do these cause direct damage? Overtime? How is this not "proper washing"? Define proper washing? I have used Chemical products (acid) on my wheels and have yet to see damage. In fact, the road salt in MA causes more then the acid wheel cleaners.

I believe they are not good for certain components of the vehicle long term. Plastic components.

By proper washing I mean a detailed wash by hand using a good soap formulated for automotive finishes.

Picky picky picky. I only use the one car wash and the only time cloth or anything else touches my car is when I detail it. I'll put my car's finish up against yours any day, big boy.

haha. After a detail I'm sure it'd be a wash (no pun intended)

BUT

After me taking 40 minutes and handwashing my car after a period of rain and bad weather and you taking yours to the touchless, I'd take that bet. Putting any question about chemicals and their effects aside, the touchless wash doesn't do any detailed work to the wheels, leaves road film on the paint and the glass which hides the true beauty of the paint. I don't consider that clean ;)

Weather conditions here make a big difference too. I do clean the wheels myself, mostly due to the infamous IS350 brake dust. I do however like the extra underspray at the car wash. I found that the SUV and truck bay does the underspray even on the wash and rinse only selection.

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"I only ever use the touchless car wash. Some of them are pretty good. My car has never been through a brush or felt car wash and has never been washed by hand."

Most probably at least once... at the port of entry... your car was sent thru a car wash immediately after downloading it from the ship that brought it from Japan...

and probably another time at the dealer before delivery...

that makes two minimum... ;)

The dealer wash is easy enough to avoid if you're working with the dealer before the car arrives on lot... the port wash I doubt there's anything you can do to stop even if you asked.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hey I've an Obsidian black IS350 ... Will the paint really develop swirl marks?

What happened to you, Hitenutada, it seems like everyone but you is posting in your thread. Anyway, I have heard that Obsidian Black does not come with a clearcoat, so you will have more scratching than any other color. You're in for a million scratches if you go through a spinning brush or swishing fabric car wash. Go touchless or wash it yourself with proper training from the detailing forum here or autopia. And avoid the free Lexus car scratches, er, washes.

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Hey I've an Obsidian black IS350, and everywhere i turn people tell me not to go to an automatic drive through car wash with it. Now normally i dont mind washing my car in my driveway by hand but the problem is its winter right now and its way too cold here to wash it, but the dirt is really settling and i need to do something.

A couple of options for you. I live in Northern, NJ, 15 minutes across the GW so suffice it to say, we share the same weather. I would avoid the "swirling" washes if you can and go to a good quality touchless wash, if you must, but there are other options.

Generally, my routine has been to really to a top notch self wash as late in the season as possible (this usually means around Thanksgiving). I have a very long process which includes "claying" my car, using cleaner waxes and a litany of other products that concludes with a Polymer based wax (I use Meguiar's NXT Generation Tech wax).

I like the Polymer based waxes better than a Carnuba based wax because I think they last much longer. This buys me about 1-2 months where the car stays pretty clean, because not too much adheres to the finish. In the interim, I have local hand washing places close to home (I think there are quite a few in the Bronx as well, just have a look). The place by me is $8 for a hand wash (which is a bargain). They don't do a great job, but good enough to get me through the winter.

Additionally, we often get a stretch of warm weather in January or February. If and when that happens I take advantage of it with a home wash and wax which usually gets me through the rest of winter.

I also pretty much wipe down my rims after EVERY drive (yes it sounds like a lot and is definitely a result of my "type A" personality), but I find this is the only way of keep the rims really clean.

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The place by me is $8 for a hand wash (which is a bargain). They don't do a great job, but good enough to get me through the winter.

Maybe ill check that place out... i go to NJ often, you got a name or a location?

Thanks!

I don't know the name but here's how you get there...

Cross the GW and take Rt. 4 West for about 10 miles. Once you pass the Garden State Mall you'll see a sign for Rt. 208. Take Rt 208 (north is the only direction you can travel). Drive about 4 miles North to "Maple Ave" exit. Take exit west (go under bridge).

Drive 200 feet on Maple. Wash on the right. I'll get the name and post it later.

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In my experience, you're better off using an automatic carwash to a bulk hand wash place. Those guys have terrible mits and towels...swirl city.

You happen to be right, except that the place that I go to is not high volume and although I only use it in rare occasions, thus far I've been pretty lucky.

They use the same wash mits I use at home and soak the car down pretty good before washing. Although not ideal, my experience has been good thus far.

In any event, here is the info for the place:

Elite Car Wash

22-40 Maple Ave

Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

(201) 791-6300

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