What to expect from a touchless car wash?

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2019 CX-5 Signature
Close to buying a 2019 CX-5. In an ideal world, Id hand wash my car twice a week, and apply or reapply Maguires. But in my real world without a lot of free time, I like to keep my car clean and looking nice so I run in through a good touchless car wash.
What can I expect as a result on the Mazda paint (lets say Machine Gray) and the piano black trim?
 
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2014 CX-5 Touring White
It may knock a lot of loose surface dirt from the clear coat, but it will not remove the contaminants that damage the clear coat. Maybe take those extra steps to decontaminate every so many weeks. Probably not a good idea to apply wax/sealant on top of a dirty car and touchless is going to still be dirty.
 

NelsonLewis

Banned
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16.5 CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech BRMica
It may knock a lot of loose surface dirt from the clear coat, touchless is going to still be dirty.
I agree. I've given these things a go a few times and the past and just gave up. They're a waste of money to me. Dirt everywhere after the wash, and save me zero time in the long run because I end up having to do just as much work to make it right anyways. Boy are these car washes making a killing though...
 

NelsonLewis

Banned
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16.5 CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech BRMica
Piano black trim? Scratches.
I hope this isn't a jinx, but everyone keeps saying this and I don't even have one, and my girl isn't necessarily the easiest on things. She wears rings, watches, etc and tosses pens and stuff under the controls as well, nada. I don't have even one knick or scratch on the steering wheel either, another thing I seem to hear often...
 

7eregrine

The man, the myth, the legend
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Land of Cleve
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2016.5 CX5
I think the steering wheel issue was isolated to some bad parts. Haven't seen many complaints about it recently.
 
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2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring
I've only had luck with the soft-touch car washes. However, you better get used to swirl marks on the black exterior trim. I use these in the winter, and then I buff the vehicle in the spring. Atleast it stays clean in the winter.
 

ColoradoDriver

Gen-1 Kodo Design
Contributor
:
Denver, CO
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2014 CX-5 Touring
I've only had luck with the soft-touch car washes. However, you better get used to swirl marks on the black exterior trim. I use these in the winter, and then I buff the vehicle in the spring. Atleast it stays clean in the winter.
Yeah my hood needs some major buffing after using some of those "soft touch" car washes. At this point the marks are already there so I keep using them until I fix it.
 

ColoradoDriver

Gen-1 Kodo Design
Contributor
:
Denver, CO
:
2014 CX-5 Touring
I hope this isn't a jinx, but everyone keeps saying this and I don't even have one, and my girl isn't necessarily the easiest on things. She wears rings, watches, etc and tosses pens and stuff under the controls as well, nada. I don't have even one knick or scratch on the steering wheel either, another thing I seem to hear often...
Not a jinx. Some of these newer CX-5s have piano black trim on the exterior between the windows now. Don't know the official terminology for that trim.
 
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2017 BMW X1
Dont bother, they use harsh cleaners thatll age the trim faster.

I recommend buying a bottle of Optimum No-Rinse. Its a one-bucket car wash solution. Even if youre pressed for time, it only takes like 15 mins to slop it on and dry it off - probably the same amount of time as driving to a touchless car wash and waiting in line. Great for the in between washes.
 

NelsonLewis

Banned
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16.5 CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech BRMica
Not a jinx. Some of these newer CX-5s have piano black trim on the exterior between the windows now. Don't know the official terminology for that trim.
Oops,outside, car wash, sorry. Yea, I wouldn*t mind having the trim pieces wrapped in vinyl for a little more glossy look myself...
 
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2017 CX-5 GT AWD
My attitude is that it is a lot easier to remove swirl marks then rust. So I use automatic car washes in the winter as there is no other options other then waiting for warm weather.

And then i look at resale value. After 5+ if the paint is in good shape, all vehicles are basically valued the same. Even if the black trim is scratched. Plastic can be buffed, replaced or wrapped if it gets really ugly.

Yes the black trim will scratch easily, but it can with your wash rag too. And if you don't keep your car in the garage, the sun and elements will have a stronger effect on it over time then a car wash will.

I still see the auto-car wash as the lesser of 2 evils for long term care. If our cars had collector value, then I would feel differently.
 

erhayes

Contributor
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Mazda CX-5 FWD Touring
He said "TOUCH-LESS" car washes. I have used touch-less car washes for many years and no issues whatsoever. Stay away from soft touch. Ed
 
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2014 CX-5 Touring White
Another way to look at this is like getting your teeth cleaned. We do what we need to do daily, such as, brush and floss, but when the hygienist starts with scraping the plaque buildup it is surprising how much is there that we do not sense or see.

This is similar with a lot of contaminants bonded to the clear coat. You can literally feel this grit being removed when going through the decontamination process like iron removal and clay bar or nano mitt.
 
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2016.5 CX-5 GT AWD titanium/black 2016 Miata Club ST MT white
Most car washes use fairly harsh chemicals in their soaps and a lot of these can and will remove any wax that you have on your paint.

My routine in the winter months is to take my cars to the car wash and only use the manual wash bays with water only, no soap. My goal is to only get the salt off of the car, nothing more.

Be sure the heat your brakes up a bit before parking your car after a wash, or salt bath, whichever the case may be. Parking with salty wet brakes is not a good thing.


From my truck.

 

Kaps

Contributor
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CX-5 Touring 2016.5
If you are going to be driving 12-15K miles a year mostly on highway - stick to Silver or White or even Grey. Silver + Touch less will give you a good result - because Silver is good at hiding dirt. I am assuming rust is a minimal risk.
I have tried a ton of products and never found an 'easy way out'.
I have tried ONR, Megs Shampoo, Megs protectants, Megs entire detail kit, pressure washer etc.
But then I live in an apt. and became dad last Nov. so things are stacked up against me. My washing schedule can be once every 4-6 months.
This is my final routine:
1. Pressure wash with water to get debris out.
2. Foaming Soap. Wait for 5 mins.
3. Rinse.
4. Step 2 again - this time with a Mitt.
5. Watch a clean car with water spots / swirls.
6. Realize you have no more time and go home.
7. Get yelled at.

If you have a garage - get something like a Sunjoe with foam sprayer. Put in 5-6 hours to get a good ceramic coating on the first time (literally drive from dealer at night with no cars on road straight to home and garage it) and wash every 3 weeks with Sunjoe/Foamer. See the result for a year.

Sunjoe setup can be had for under $100 - 1250 psi is sufficient. With Sunjoe you can use Chemical Guys foam soap or megs mixed in warm water. This is setup assumes you do not let corrosive elements eat into your top coat. If you do its clay bar + polisher + wax all over again.
 
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7eregrine

The man, the myth, the legend
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Land of Cleve
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2016.5 CX5
He said "TOUCH-LESS" car washes. I have used touch-less car washes for many years and no issues whatsoever. Stay away from soft touch. Ed
So I use automatic car washes in the winter as there is no other options other then waiting for warm weather. I still see the auto-car wash as the lesser of 2 evils for long term care. If our cars had collector value, then I would feel differently.
Finally some sanity in this thread.
A touchless car wash is not going to leave swirl marks in your paint. They do not use "harsh chemicals" that will harm your paint.
Yes, they certainly may not do a perfect job and may leave a dirt spot here or there but this "OMG YOU ARE RUINING YOU CAR WITH A TOUHCLESS CAR WASH" is bullshit.
 

ColoradoDriver

Gen-1 Kodo Design
Contributor
:
Denver, CO
:
2014 CX-5 Touring
Finally some sanity in this thread.
A touchless car wash is not going to leave swirl marks in your paint. They do not use "harsh chemicals" that will harm your paint.
Yes, they certainly may not do a perfect job and may leave a dirt spot here or there but this "OMG YOU ARE RUINING YOU CAR WITH A TOUHCLESS CAR WASH" is bullshit.
They both have their pros and cons.

Soft-touch at least gets a little bit more of the finer dirt off the car that no touchless has ever gotten off sufficiently. Problem is you get swirl marks with it.

Touchless avoids the swirl marks, and while I agree it won't harm the paint, it will absolutely strip off any wax you have on. And I have used many touchless car washes and at the end of the day they suck for getting any of the finer particles off. I always say look at your windshield after a touchless and you can still see the wiper line, fine as it may be, as an example.

All in all, saying I agree, it is a way to keep the more harmful crap like salt and mag chloride off the car until ready again for a proper washing. At this point, until I decide to try buffing the swirls out of my car, I'm just going to use whatever.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
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Canada
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'18 CX-9 Signature
I have a machine grey CX-9 with the piano black B-pillar cladding. The piano black pieces will scratch no matter what you do, but you can minimize that by only wiping them with a damp microfiber. I've never used a touchless wash so I can't speak on the chemicals they use, but that would be something I'd look into before putting my car through one.

Typically when I need to clean my car, I take it to a coin-operated manual wand wash. If I just want to do a quick rinse, I spend $2-3 on the hot rinse setting and let the pressure washer do its thing. If I want to really clean it, I rinse the car, then activate the foam brush (just to get some soap on the car, the brush doesn't actually touch the car). Then I use a wet microfiber or two to do a full wipedown. Do another hot rinse, and done.

If it isn't busy, I like to use Meguiars Quik Wax after the last rinse as a drying agent. Paint looks great afterward, and you'll have a bit of protection from the Meguiars until your next wash.
 
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