Don't be tempted by cheap hand car washes

Every time you clean your car, it damages the paintwork. That is just a fact, there is no avoiding it.

Even if you were to have your car cleaned by those insanely expensive detailing services in Chelsea that look after the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the celebrities, they would still cause wash marks, (which is why they polish the cars afterwards).

Generally speaking, wash marks are not something you need to worry about if you have a lease car. An automated car wash will probably give you worse wash marks than a careful hand wash, but not to the point anywhere close to where you would be charged for excessive wear and tear.

However, should you happen so see a sign that says, "Hand Car Wash £5", you really are going to have to ask yourself a few questions. Normally these guys (and gals) do a decent job, but not always. We have seen some terrible things.

We have watched them in supermarket car parks wash many cars in a row without changing the bucket of water. We have seen them slap a sponge onto the dirty side of a car and smear all the dirt around. We have watched them drop sponges, clothes and leathers onto the ground and then using them. We've frequently seen them use a harsh chemical designed for cleaning off brake dust, to clean the entire car. 

Barely a week goes by where we don't see a car which has chemical burns on chrome, plastic and rubber and is smothered in scratches on the paintwork and even the windows.

From our point of view, we can often put this damage right with a machine polishing. We may even be able to do something about the burns. We don't know until we try, but we can usually at least improve it.

However, an assessor who is looking at photos on an end-of-lease inspection report doesn't have the luxury of getting out a buffing machine and having a go, and they may decide that the only sure course of action is a complete respray and replacement of all the exterior trim.  That could be a costly bill!

We do recommend you clean your car's exterior around once a month, and would recommend either you use a well maintained automated wash or a self service jet wash. There are some very good hand car washes around, but you do need to honestly ask yourself if you had a new Aston-Martin, would you trust them with it? If not, you probably shouldn't trust them with your lease car.

Written by Danny Argent. Last updated 16/06/2022 15:51