can you go through a car wash with paint protection

Can You Go Through a Car Wash with Paint Protection?

When bird droppings or dust gather on your car, your first instinct may be to go to a car wash. However, be attentive if you have paint protection film (PPF) on your vehicle. PPF protects your car from physical debris and resists chemicals, but washing it incorrectly can damage the protection.

Our team at Formula 1 Collision Center, the best auto body shop in Tucson, often receives car wash questions. For example, can you go through a car wash with paint protection on? We answer this with additional details so you can make positive vehicular care choices.

The Answer: We Don’t Recommend It

If you have PPF on your car, we don’t recommend going through automatic car washes. The brushes in automatic versions can leave micro scratches on your vehicle because of the abrasiveness. These brushes also pick up scratch-prone contaminants from other cars or previous wash cycles.

Automatic car washes can leave water spots from mineral deposits or fail to clean your vehicle. Some can even damage your car, ripping off antennas and side-view mirrors.

So, the answer to “can you go through a car wash with paint protection” is generally no. However, we won’t leave you hanging!

We recommend hand washing when possible. If you can’t, try hiring a car washer, going through a touchless wash, or getting help from family and friends.

Cleaning a Car with PPF

Avoiding rough brushes helps protect your PPF and protect your vehicle. However, you can do more to clean your car without damage.

#1. Finish the Curing Process First

Let your car rest if you recently received PPF, ceramic coatings, or other protective paint applications. Avoid washing your vehicle for about 48 hours to let the film and coatings bond to your car’s surface. Temperature and humidity can alter how long this process takes.

#2. Avoid Harsh Chemicals While Washing

Automatic and touchless car washes often use harsh, industrial-grade chemicals to clean vehicles. However, these chemicals can strip the protective film and expose the paint to the elements. Down the line, your car’s paint can buckle and flake and leave your car to rust.

Instead, use gentle soaps and washes appropriate for your vehicle to extend the lifespan of your protective coverings. They can remove the chemicals from bird droppings and other caustic substances that endanger your car’s paint. 

#3. Use the Right PSI for Your Water

Touchless washes, while somewhat beneficial, can use water filled with mineral deposits or too high of a PSI. High-pressure washes can strip paint and protective films when too rough. 

Instead, try handwashing with a pressure nozzle between 1200 and 1900 at a safe distance. Use this principle for compressed air as well.

Where to Get Your PPF

Can you go through a car wash with paint protection? While we don’t advise it, that shouldn’t motivate you to lose out on the benefits PPF can give your car. 

Formula 1 Collision Center professionals complete high-quality auto restorations daily in Tucson, covering everything from a paint job to new parts. To learn more about our auto body services or schedule an appointment, call (520) 369-4291 today!

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