Interiors 8-7
Exteriors 8-8
Sundays & Holidays: 9-5
28800 Lorain Rd
North Olmsted, OH 44070
Phone: 440-777-4414
Monday-Saturday: 8:00am-7:00pm (Interior)
Monday-Saturday: 8:00am-8:00pm (Exterior)
Sundays & Holidays: 9:00am-5:00pm

The Untold Truth About Your Car’s Scratches

Black automobile going through automatic carwash with rotating blue neoprene washing cloths.

Ok look, you and I have been through a lot together, so I really need to get something off my chest. Your car has scratches on it--swirly ones. And you think I did it. And I’ve gotta tell you; I’m a little hurt. I’m a faithful car wash. I work all day to keep your car "so fresh and so clean,” and I get a bad rap!

Seriously, car washes don’t create those swirly scratches on your car. Wanna find out where they come from? Read on.

The Dealership, The Road, & The Driveway

Cars actually have these slight scratches before they even leave the manufacturer, and they get worse over every mile driven and every day they are parked outside in the elements.

Funny story: We call them swirls because of how they appear when you see them on your car in the sun. But in fact, they’re not swirls at all. They’re random scratches of all shapes and sizes, but they reflect in a circular pattern because the light source (the sun) is circular. As your eye moves over your car’s finish, the swirl will move with the light and always seem circular.

Professional Car Wash Myths

People think that because auto wash machines move in a circular motion, it must be the auto wash causing these circular-looking swirls. But hang on, if automatic car washes were the cause, then every car that goes to one would have the same mechanically consistent swirls in the same places. (Now you’re like: “Oh shoot, you’ve got a point!”)

Now you’re probably wondering: "If it’s not the car wash, then why do I always notice the swirls right after I come out of the car wash?"

Two Reasons:

1) We said the swirls are more visible in the sunlight. When do we usually get our cars washed? Rainy days or sunny ones? Bingo: Sunny Days.

2) The scratches show more when there’s not a layer of dirt or pollen covering them. So on a shiny, clean car, the scratches show just a little more. (But she's beautiful now, don’t hate her for it.)

If you’ve read this far and feel like geeking out with us, pull out your pocket pen and notepad, and let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Automatic Car Wash vs Hand-Washing

You might think the dirt and mud from the SUV in front of you are what marked up your car, but not so, my friend! Today’s car washes use a neoprene closed cell foam (think the feel of a light yoga mat) that does not leave marks. The spinning neoprene is constantly sprayed with high-pressure water, so any dirt and grime are instantly washed off the foam and down the drain.

Hand-washing, on the other hand, generally uses 1-2 buckets and/or a hose, and a porous wash mitt made from lamb’s cloth or microfiber. Unfortunately, when the wash mitt is rubbed on the paint, it picks up the dirt and instantly rubs in on the clear coat. The wash mitt is often dipped in a suds bucket, which gets dirtier as the car is washed. So even when done by an expert, there’s actually a higher chance of making scratches by hand-washing your car than by taking it to an automatic carwash.

Even towel drying is a high-risk activity when it comes to swirling. Going all 'Sylvester Stallone' on your car with a dry or abrasive towel might rub off stubborn dirt, but it will also mark the clear coat. Microfiber towels are much safer for drying a car and leave less lint than terry-cloth towels but require much more care and specific laundry procedures. Even then, it takes some time to get a feel for how much pressure is good and how much is too much.

Professional Car Detailer (Andy's Auto Wash) gently washing automobile exterior for scratch-free cleaning.

Tips From A Professional Car Detailer

So, there you have it. You can’t get rid of swirls, but weekly washing and waxing can slow them down and minimize them. Our professional car detailers at Andy’s Auto Wash are passionate about preserving and protecting cars. We even offer UNLIMITED Interior and Exterior Carwash packages -- just one price per month!

Unlimited Exterior Carwash Packages

So call us! We would love to set up a Wash, Wax Exterior Recondition, and/or Ceramic Coating service schedule to keep your baby looking new.