I discovered something this winter that I hadn't really considered before about coin op car washes. I've resigned myself to the fact that there is going to be polishing involved in the spring regardless of what I do in the winter. It is just a fact. My Corolla has pretty decent paint and it is a color that doesn't really show scratches and swirls, so that one I'm not so worried about, but my Odyssey is dark blue and definitely can show them. I polished the van out in October and it was looking pretty sharp at the beginning of the winter. I had taken it to a couple car washes to clean off the salt and it was holding up pretty well I thought. That is until I went to a different car wash. That is when I learned something I never really considered....
I'll have to take some pictures so you know what I'm talking about, but there are generally a couple different types of brushes at these coin op washes. One has nylon bristles and the other is more of a boar's hair type thing. The boar's hair (not sure if that is what it really is, but it is sort of like it) tend to flatten out and lose effectiveness over time, so I'm guessing that is why owners switch to the nylon ones. All I can say is that the one I always go to has the boar's hair type and it has always been fine. I went to a nylon bristle one ONCE and now my van is scratched to holy hell. It is insane how terrible it looks.
I followed my normal routine of spraying out the brush and everything, so the only thing I can attribute it to is the bristles and soft paint. The van was actually cleaner than it has been in past car washes, so I don't even believe it was excess dirt and salt on the van that caused this. I blame the brush entirely.
So my tip for you is to AVOID THE NYLON BRISTLE BRUSHES. (pinky anchor of rage there) Try to find a car wash that uses the soft and floppy type brush. Let me see if I can google up some pictures, but I'll snap some next time I was the car to show you the difference. I firmly believe this is a major factor in the damage caused to cars over the winter. It isn't just in using a brush. The type of brush matters a whole hell of a lot and I hadn't even really thought about that.
Found one. It is Hog Hair, apparently. Still... the hair ones seem to be safer than ones that are blue or red or white or whatever color they get their nylon in.
I'll tell you the reason more are going for the fake brushes. Just check out this page.
The ones that are safest for your car run $12 to $20 bucks. The polystyrene (not nylon apparently) brushes can be had for under ten bucks. That is only one supplier's site too. So the quality costs, but I'll tell you one thing... The extra little bit that is spent on those brushes at my particular location has earned them a customer for as long as I live in this neighborhood. And if anyone asks me where to get their car washes, this is exactly where I'll tell them to get it done.
Silly post.. I know. But it is winter and there isn't much else for me to say.
All I know is that my nice shiny van looks like shit and it is is all because of someone trying to save a couple bucks on the type of foam brush head they choose to use.