Car Wash Undercover: Are you getting what you pay for?

Car Wash Undercover: Andy's tips and the services you should expect

(WMC TV) - Don't call an "express" car wash an "automatic" car wash.

Bob McQuage will quickly correct you.

McQuage is a Byhalia, MS-based car wash equipment distributor and a representative of the International Car Wash Association. He is an advocate for express car washes:  washes where you stay in your vehicle and ride it through a tunnel, but the wash is attended by staff for accountability, safety and follow-up service.

McQuage said when a customer opts for an express wash's "ultimate" or "premium" service -- whatever its price -- it should provide these four services:

* PRE-SOAK. This is a high-alkaline product with high pressure to reach and clean spots the cleaning material may not touch. "That will loosen the dirt in preparation for the wash material to clean it," McQuage said.

* SUPER-SEALANT. This should include a triple-color, triple-foam conditioner that enhances your car's finish. "The foam helps prep the car to allow the super-sealant to stick to it and seal the paint," said McQuage.

* WHEEL-CLEANING.  Either by automation or by an attendant's hand.

* TIRE-SHINE. The most difficult service for express washes to do well.

McQuage and the association offered these tips for getting the most out of an ultimate express car wash:


* BE WARY OF "TOUCHLESS" CLAIMS OR SERVICES. McQuage said if a wash is really going to clean a vehicle, someone or something will have to touch it. There must be contact.

* SEE FOAM, SMELL FOAM. The triple-foam in the super sealant has three colors and a distinct smell. If there's no color and no smell, you're not getting what you paid for.

If you're not satisfied with the wash, ask an attendant or manager to run you through again. The association said legitimate express washes should always grant a second wash at no additional cost.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.