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Have a question, are there any limiting factors taking a Smart car through an automatic car wash? Either due to it's size, design or electric drive?

Thanks!
 

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I never ran our car though any auto car washes. Didn’t want the tire tracks to scratch up the low profile wheels. I also don’t care for the dirty brushes scratching the body work up too. The car is so short, you never get the rear end clean. In fact, don’t run any of our cars though a auto car wash.
 

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Your mileage may vary. I've used a local car wash for several years with great results, plus they always finish up with attendants doing the final detail cleaning and drying. No problems so far. :)
 

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We've driven our smart ED through the worst kind of rainstorms and have never had any issues with water intrusion somewhere it wasn't supposed to go. I'd imagine that it would be safe through any car wash. I've never used an actual car wash (it's so small I can do the whole thing in literally a few minutes) but I have taken it to the local DIY car washes and used the high pressure hose to clean off de-icer from the wheelwells and underbody, with no issues.
 

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I’ve used a local brushless auto car wash for both my previous 451 and current 453 without issue. The tires do not rub along any rails and the machinery automatically and properly adjusts to the car length. Would NEVER use a car wash with brushes. Damage to the clear coat results! My 1990 Benz was run through one for the first 5 years of its life. The manual says not to do so and even has pics of the damage that will result. Yep, damage is EXACTLY as shown in the manual pics!
 

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Meh, I run all my smarts (save for the cabrio) through automatic washers with brushes. Illinois enjoys an insanely heavy use of salt in the winter and there's tar and tree sap everywhere in the summer. If you only ever use touch-free washes out here, your paint is going to have a ton of pollutants in it that'll do you in worse than a brush wash will. Though, I suppose you could do a touch-free wash then finish the job with your hands. Honestly, I've tried that idea in the past and it got old really quickly once I found myself trying to wipe caked on salt off in freezing temperatures.

144.5k and over 6 years later, my outdoor-stored 451 is only a nice detail (darn road tar) away from looking showroom fresh. No paint artifacts, no peeling, no unsightly swirls. At least for my 451, 453, and 450 coupe, brush washes don't seem to hurt anything. Of course, YMMV. :)

So long as the tyres your smart has are designed with a halfway decent wheel protector lip, the machines won't hurt your wheels. I've only had an automatic machine scrape my wheels once, and that was when I had just gotten my wheels and they were equipped with snow tyres that didn't have a wheel protector lip.

 
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I hav had no problem running mine through a normal car wash. But I do remove the radio antenna (it unscrews by hand) before going through. Folding the mirrors in might be a good idea too.

If you have the correct size tires, the rims cannot get scratched. My rims would be a mess from scraping the curbs (or "kerbs" as Ms. Mercedes would call them), while parking if that were the case...
 

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I only tried a coin-op automatic car wash once.
Put my money in, drove into the bay stopping when the "STOP" sign lit up.
Then the machine started...
Rotating brushes started turning, moving inward from the forward position until they touched in the center...
Then water started spraying and the brushes started moving towards the front of my little Smart...
And stopped about 10" from the front of the car.
The machine did not detect that my car was even there so it reset itself and shut off.
So, from that time on, I only use self operated wand and brushes at the coin op.
 

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I've actually broken a brand new fuel station car washing system like that.

I drove in until it told me to stop, then the machine's "robot arms" with its brushes tried to figure out where the car was. When that failed, the machine moved up and down its track, periodically moving the arms out (I suppose they had some sensors in them) to figure out where the car was. If I didn't know any better, the machine seemed awfully confused at what had presented itself to be a "car". In what almost appeared to have been in frustration, the machine spun the wheel brushes at max speed for like 10 seconds, then the whole machine died and a yellow light started flashing...The station's car wash was closed for like a month after.

I later found out from the owner that the sensors in the wash "saw" my car, however the computer interpreted a car as small as a smart to be impossible...and like computers sometimes do, it just kept trying until the system bombed out. lol
 

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I only tried a coin-op automatic car wash once.
Put my money in, drove into the bay stopping when the "STOP" sign lit up.
Then the machine started...
Rotating brushes started turning, moving inward from the forward position until they touched in the center...
Then water started spraying and the brushes started moving towards the front of my little Smart...
And stopped about 10" from the front of the car.
The machine did not detect that my car was even there so it reset itself and shut off.
So, from that time on, I only use self operated wand and brushes at the coin op.
I dont even want to try and use the automatic car wash. Had experiences with it ripping out antenna on other cars.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

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When I had the stock antenna, I just removed it prior to going into the wash. I have an Avenger antenna now and it isn't fazed by getting beat by brushes.
 

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When I had the stock antenna, I just removed it prior to going into the wash. I have an Avenger antenna now and it isn't fazed by getting beat by brushes.
Yeah, that would work too. But still, the manual wash costs me $4 where the automatic with all the same features would cost $15.

I live in an apartment without access to water hoses so washing at home isn't an option. And even if it was, the water is so hard here I couldn't wash without lots of spots.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

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In the winter time. I will only use a spray wand, at the car wash. Other wise, my cars, are hand washed. On my driveway. I also have a power washer. With a foam applicator, and sprayer. No nasty automatic car brushes for me. I care too much about the finishes, on my vehicles.
 

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I wash my 2016 all the time in automatic car washes. Never had a problem (and they don't have a whip antenna). In fact, I seem to remember that the manual encourages using soft touch car washes and not to use touchless as they use much harsher chemicals. So, I'm just doing what the manual says! (and it only costs 8-10 bucks for a good wash)

Edit: Found it! From the manual:

"! Never clean your vehicle in a Touchless
Automatic Car Wash as these use special
cleaning agents. These cleaning agents can
damage the paintwork or plastic parts."

"You can wash the vehicle in an automatic car
wash from the very start.

If the vehicle is very dirty, pre-wash it
before cleaning it in an automatic car wash.
After using an automatic car wash, wipe off
wax from the windshield and the wiper blades.
This will prevent smears and reduce wiping
noises caused by residue on the windshield."
 

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I wash my 2016 all the time in automatic car washes. Never had a problem (and they don't have a whip antenna). In fact, I seem to remember that the manual encourages using soft touch car washes and not to use touchless as they use much harsher chemicals. So, I'm just doing what the manual says! (and it only costs 8-10 bucks for a good wash)

Edit: Found it! From the manual:

"! Never clean your vehicle in a Touchless
Automatic Car Wash as these use special
cleaning agents. These cleaning agents can
damage the paintwork or plastic parts."

"You can wash the vehicle in an automatic car
wash from the very start.

If the vehicle is very dirty, pre-wash it
before cleaning it in an automatic car wash.
After using an automatic car wash, wipe off
wax from the windshield and the wiper blades.
This will prevent smears and reduce wiping
noises caused by residue on the windshield."
Also a good note. The Webasto roofs on these cars (well, at least the 451s) degrade when you use the Spot-Free rinse solvents that many touchless washes depend on. Some soft-touch washes use those solvents too, so watch out.

The paint on these cars (save for the 2009 rally red, yellows up to about 2011, and 2008-2010 metallic blue panels) is actually really resilient. My 451's been egged and paintballed so many times, but it's always been a good car wash away and maybe some light polishing from recovery. The bigger problem is rust on the subframe. The tridion cells have amazing rust protection qualities, the subframe and the DeDion? Eh not so much. So I always go to a wash that has a high pressure underbody spray and I clean up any underbody surface rust during the summer.
 

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I'll add that I have my concerns with the dryers in automatic washes. The reason I say this is that on all our Saturns we had clear coat delimitation of some panels and I wondered if this was caused by the buffeting that the cars take when going through that part of the process. We had this same issue with an Explorer that also had a lot of car washes done this way. Granted paint can delaminate over time so it could just be age catching up with the cars.

We have switched to commercial wash product called Moonshyne for all our vehicles, seems to do a pretty amazing job of protecting the finish especially if you have to wash your car a lot. Where my wife works they use this product on all their cars which are washed after every use which can be multiple times a day.
 

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To answer CountryMouseSmart’s question, Spot-Free is bad if:

- You have the panoramic roof.
AND/OR
- You have the factory matte gray or matte green.

If you have the matte paint colours, the manual will specify care instructions. Anything that would bring a shine or a gloss to cars with a clearcoat is bad and anything more than very light brushing (no scrubbing) is also bad.

Otherwise Spot-Free rinses shouldn’t damage the paint on the tridion cell or your panels.

The data sheet for the panoramic roof panels (for the 451) also state that max temperature is about 150 Fahrenheit. On a hot summer day, the interior of a parked car can easily exceed that. I’ve always wondered if some crazing damage is also heat damage?

Delaminating paint was also common across some of Ford’s products too. The Panther platform and their trucks/SUVs seemed to get hit the worst. My parents’ Expedition has advanced past delamination and the paint is just peeling off. I’ve researched the Ford forums on this and it seems to happen regardless of how you wash the vehicles.

The Saturn paint issue seems more widespread, but sadly seems to also happen regardless of washing habits. I wonder if Saturn’s paint formulation was much different than what Chrysler used on first gen Neons?
 
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