Can You Take Your EV Through a Car Wash?

Carlos Kirby
· 3 min read
Electric vehicles
(EVs) can be better for the environment and your wallet. Their initial price tags might be higher, but the improved fuel economy means you'll save more money at the pump.
Car insurance
for some EVs might not cost that much more compared to gas cars.
Car maintenance is typically easier for EVs because you don't have as many mechanical issues to worry about. However, a survey from
Motoring Electric
shows that one in five drivers won't take their EVs through a car wash. Are car washes dangerous for EVs?
Older car washes can damage newer electric cars.

Which car washes are bad for electric vehicles?

According to
, Teslas and other EVs should never be taken through a soft-touch car wash. These older car washes haven't been updated to keep up with the latest vehicle technology. As a result, the bristles can move dirt around and obscure the vehicle's cameras and sensors.
Tesla's Autopilot driving program relies heavily on cameras to detect surrounding vehicles. Even if just one of the cameras is obscured, an oncoming vehicle from that direction could cause an accident. Some Tesla drivers are also worried that the water could damage the charging port.
Most soft-touch car washes require you to put the car in neutral mode as it's being cleaned. Many EVs won't stay in neutral for more than a couple of minutes. For this reason, EV drivers should never visit driverless car washes.
Even Tesla warns drivers not to take their vehicles through soft-touch car washes due to these issues. According to Hyundai's user manual, soft-touch bristles can also make essential safety features useless.
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Are automatic car washes better for EVs?

Automatic car washes without bristles are perfectly safe for electric vehicles, according to Motoring Electric. Just like a regular vehicle, EVs have to undergo strict inspection to ensure there's no flooding risk. The battery, which is one of the most expensive components to replace, is also well-protected against the water.
You can take your EV through the car wash exactly as you would for a gas-powered car. Turn off the car and engage the handbrake before the wash begins. You should also make sure that all your windows are rolled up and that your wipers are turned off.

Why do some drivers still avoid car washes?

Although automatic car washes are technically safe for your EV, they aren't always a good idea. Car washes with outdated equipment can create swirl marks and scratches on your car paint, which may be pricey to fix.
If you want to save some money in the long term, consider buying a pressure washer for your car's next cleaning. Although it takes more time, it will be a more thorough wash and ensure the longevity of your car's paint.
The wheels usually need the most water pressure to get rid of caked-on dirt and brake rust. It’s a good idea to refer to your owner's manual to see which cleaners the automaker recommends for your vehicle. In most cases, a simple household cleaning solution is safe for the body of the car.
On top of keeping your electric car well-maintained, you’ll want to make sure it’s protected from any unexpected accidents on the road.
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