Tips, Tricks & Trends

Why You Should Say ‘No’ to the Dealership Car Wash After Buying a Car

When you buy a car from a dealership, part of the sales protocol is to get the car “detailed” before handing you the keys to it. However, at any dealership, the term “detail” is more often a fancy word for “creating swirls in the paint without you knowing.” So in case you’re a stickler about keeping your car’s paint as shiny and new as possible, here is why you should probably say “no” to the dealership washing the car that you just bought.

You get what you pay for, even if it’s “free”

If you buy a new or used car, the dealership will never charge you for washing it. In fact, most dealers will even offer to wash your car when you get an oil change done, however, you should always refuse it. Formula Auto Care mentions that you get what you pay for, even if the car wash is free because the cleaning equipment at most dealerships is usually not properly maintained and causes more damage to the car’s paint than you would think.

Two workers aim pressure washers at an Audi to clean off the paint finish
Workers at Divisadero Touchless Car Wash use high pressure hoses to rinse off a car | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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The car detailers are not really detailers

In addition to potentially shoddy car-washing equipment, the detailers that are hired to wash your new pride and joy are typically not actually trained detailers. In fact, many of them have “several days to a month” of experience when it comes to washing cars, which means that they most likely haven’t had enough education and experience when it comes to learning the nuances of washing a car properly.

Aside from there being untrained “professionals,” the equipment that they use is typically dirty and not in line with what an actual detail shop may use. For example, they may use dirty towels to dry the car and most of the time, the wash buckets that they use don’t have “grit guards” to prevent dirt and grime from making their way onto the sponge and then onto your car.

A man washes his vehicle at a self-service car wash| Dmitry Serebryakov\TASS via Getty Images

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What can you do to prevent the dealership from washing your car?

If you’re buying a car from a dealership, you can simply tell the salesperson not to have it washed before handing you the keys. Believe it or not, they actually won’t mind your request considering it takes one long step out of the sales process, thus making their job easier, and it will also make the entire process much faster, which is to your own benefit.

If you’re getting your car worked on by the service center at the dealership, then place a sign that says “Do Not Wash” on your windshield. The service center will gladly adhere to this instruction and the dealership can be held liable if they end up washing the car and doing some damage to it.

Workers detail a car
Workers apply soap to a Cadillac at a car wash | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Lastly, if you end up not getting the car washed at the dealership, take it to a professional detailer instead or detail it yourself. The extra financial cost, as well as the time spent, can inevitably keep your car looking much newer for a longer period of time.