How does an automatic car wash work?

From horse-drawn carriages to Ford’s Model T to self-driving vehicles, technology has made leaps and bounds over the last century. As cars have evolved, so has our process for keeping them clean. Gone are the days of spending countless hours washing your car entirely by hand. Fully automated car washes allow us to enjoy the luxury of a clean car without lifting a finger. Let’s take a deep dive into the Take 5 Car Wash tunnel and examine exactly how our automatic car wash works.


How Does An Automatic Car Wash Work?

Before entering the tunnel, you’ll first need to pick what type of wash you want at our automated pay stations. These kiosks are user-friendly and allow you to browse a menu of wash options and upgrades. After selecting your desired wash, you’ll be guided to our tunnel entrance. This is where our team starts the car washing process with a pre-wash by hand, giving extra attention to the bumper, wheels, and grill. This loosens up and preps the surface of your vehicle for the automatic car wash.

Next, you’ll be guided onto our conveyor belt. Most automatic car washes utilize either a conveyor belt or roll-over track. At Take 5 Car Wash, our automatic car wash uses a conveyor belt to push your vehicle through each part of the wash. All you have to do is put your car in neutral, keep your hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals, and our machinery will do the rest. All the equipment within the tunnel is controlled by an advanced computer system that employs infrared sensors. Once your wheels are properly aligned on the conveyor belt, these infrared sensors detect your car and send a signal to the main control system to begin the wash.

Our automatic car wash starts with a pre-soak. As your vehicle slowly passes through the tunnel, metal frames fitted with small nozzles release a specially formulated cleaning solution designed to loosen dirt and grime. You’ll find these metal frames at different points throughout the tunnel. Each frame in our drive through car wash serves a different but equally important function, whether it is applying foam and wax or rinsing debris.

After the pre-soak, you’ll encounter the first round of mitter curtains. These are long strips of cloth material that hang from the top of the tunnel. Mitter curtains travel over your vehicle while swinging back and forth, agitating debris in its path. After passing through the mitter curtains, an ultra-concentrated foam wall is sprayed all over your vehicle. This patented foam formula is a biodegradable soap mixture perfect for cutting through stubborn messes. You’ll know you’ve reached this part of the automatic car wash when you see fun, brightly-colored foam on your windshield (this happens to be our favorite part).

The next part of automatic car washes are the vertical, paint-safe scrubbers. These are strategically positioned in pairs on either side of the tunnel and rotate in place to create a foam lather. Our cloth scrubbers are tough enough to remove gross residue yet gentle enough to avoid damaging your exterior. Once all the dirt has been scrubbed away, high-powered pressure washers rinse away any remains. While all these motorized parts work together to clean the body of your car, spray nozzles placed on the ground simultaneously target your tires and undercarriage. Depending on the wash type you’ve selected, this might be your last step before the dryer! If you’ve selected anything more than a quick rinse, you’ll travel through another series of metal frames, mitter curtains, and scrubbers that deposit and buff wax onto the surface of your car.

Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel — our jet-powered dryers! The last step of our automatic car wash blasts warm air onto your vehicle and instantly evaporates water. This ensures a spot-free, glossy finish every time.

How Long Does a Car Wash Take?

After exploring the ins and outs of our automatic car wash, you might be wondering, “How long does a car wash take?” From start to finish, the entire process takes only a matter of minutes — not even a fraction of the time it takes to wash your car by hand! Our automated system is also more convenient and thorough than handwashing. Plus, it offers a practical way to regularly maintain a clean exterior. So, the next time you need an express wash, swing by Take 5 for the closest automatic car wash near you.



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