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      11-12-2008, 02:07 PM   #1
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Will drive-thru car wash damage wheels?

My E90 M3 has the OEM 19" wheels/tires. Will the drive thru car washes (with single track) damage the wheels?
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      11-12-2008, 02:19 PM   #2
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Yes they can damage your wheels. Ask them to hand wash it on the side. Many will agree with me though that washing it yourself will be much better ^_^... BUt to each his own... if you don't have the time then yes do not let it go through the track.
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      11-12-2008, 02:25 PM   #3
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Don't do it man. I wash my car once a week (some people do it 2-3 time/week) and takes me 1-2 hours and believe me, it's worth it. If you must however, put it through the touch less wash that moves around your car that has no track.
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      11-12-2008, 03:11 PM   #4
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I always have mine hand washed at my local car wash, they know me well. This last time for some reason, they ran it through the track when I was inside paying and not paying attention. Sure enough, it damaged the clear coat on my OEM 19's. The worst part, they denied running it through the track. Don't do it.
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      11-12-2008, 03:34 PM   #5
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DO NOT DO IT... even at a hand car wash... the water they use is often recycled and who knows how well they filter it... I would only hand wash yourself or with a detailer.
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      11-12-2008, 04:06 PM   #6
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I've run my car through a wash on a near weekly basis. I've never had an issue. I don't believe a car wash would remain in business if they were constantly damaging wheels.
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      11-12-2008, 04:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ITLMOVE View Post

I've run my car through a wash on a near weekly basis. I've never had an issue. I don't believe a car wash would remain in business if they were constantly damaging wheels.
+1...you'll be fine. my 19's run just fine thru the tunnel. our cars are very nice cars, but we don't drive ferrari's or lambo's.

speaking of, i think i'll go run it thru the tunnel right now!
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      11-12-2008, 05:32 PM   #8
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Inside

The inside of your rims will rub against the track... so from the outside you will never see any damage but as soon as you put it on a lift or look at your rims from the inside you will see that the track has done damage...

You might say not a big deal right? Well, consider that it is wearing away at the rim every time you take it to the wash...over time your wheel will lose its balance and it will eventually put it out of alignment.

Hand wash.

BTW - my 2 cents
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      11-12-2008, 05:36 PM   #9
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most tracks are lined with plastic...or at least at my favorite car wash. it's completely safe and does no damage to the wheels, inside or out. may be different at your local car wash, but i'm pretty sure it's universal.
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      11-12-2008, 05:53 PM   #10
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This may sound crazy but I swear by the car wash especially on black cars. No swirl marks after 3 years of drive thru car washes. I just tell them not to wipe the car at the end. I just drive off. No issue with the wheels either. Not sure if all drive thru washes use the same track system though. I've even brought my GTR w 20's and had no issues

Last edited by s4awd; 11-12-2008 at 06:10 PM.
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      11-12-2008, 06:13 PM   #11
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It all depends on the guy putting the car into the track at the wash. As someone mentioned above they are supposed to align the wheels with the inside of the track so the inside of the wheels gets scratched. If they don't or the car wanders to the outside, the wheel will get scratched where you see it. My ex's C32 had front wheels with spokes protruded past the rim and 6 times she had them scratched by a car wash guy that was not careful. One time I even warned the guy, then watched him rub the wheel against the outside of the track. He got out and looked at it and said there is nothing wrong as the paint was rubbed off the spokes, even with a plastic lined track. I never put my E36 M3 through a car wash because its too low on coilovers and it had BBS RCs that would be difficult to refinish.
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      11-12-2008, 07:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h1d View Post
The inside of your rims will rub against the track... so from the outside you will never see any damage but as soon as you put it on a lift or look at your rims from the inside you will see that the track has done damage...

You might say not a big deal right? Well, consider that it is wearing away at the rim every time you take it to the wash...over time your wheel will lose its balance and it will eventually put it out of alignment.

Hand wash.

BTW - my 2 cents
+++1 Do not take your vehicle to a tracked car wash. you are better off paying the neighbors kid to wash it. Good luck.
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      11-12-2008, 09:37 PM   #13
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I never use a drive thru car wash, always pay for or do the hand wash myself.
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      11-12-2008, 09:42 PM   #14
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just not a good idea if you care about keeping your wheels and paint scratch free
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      11-12-2008, 10:46 PM   #15
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it makes me cringe hearing/seeing people run their $75k+ cars through a tracked car wash. they will fuck your car up - it may not happen the first time you go through or even the fifth, but eventually it will damage your car in some way.

my wife's suv was damaged this summer when she took it through the Costco car wash. of course they denied they were responsible. (still working on this) as pissed off as i am at Costco, i still go there and to my horror, two or three weeks after my wife's car was damaged, i was at Costco and saw a Bentley coupe waiting to go through the same car wash. unbelievable.

invest some money in some car care products from Chemical Guys (chemicalguys.com) and hand-wash your car. it doesn't take a lot of time, effort or money to keep your M3 looking like it just came out of the showroom.
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      11-13-2008, 03:23 AM   #16
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dont do it!
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      11-13-2008, 04:45 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXM32B View Post
My E90 M3 has the OEM 19" wheels/tires. Will the drive thru car washes (with single track) damage the wheels?

Probably not but it damage everything else. Get yourself a sponge.
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      11-13-2008, 07:23 AM   #18
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You could try a touchless drivethru spray-wash. There is still a small wheel guide on one side of most of them, but its usually wide enough to pass through without rubbing.
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      11-13-2008, 07:56 AM   #19
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FWIW -
I am also in Houston. I have taken my 545i (Alpine White) through Mister Car Wash on Kirby at least two times a month for the past four years. There is NO evidence of damage or deteriorating finish on any surfaces. It is impossible to assign any swirling on the paint to the wash process - it is minimal and vanishes after an annual detail. The facility is dual-track.

I am very hesitant to take my M3 (19" wheels, July, 2008, delivery) through the wash but have done so twice. It shows no evidence of the process.

There will be weekends/weeks that I simply do not have the time to spend on hand washing. My thought is that leaving humidity-activated crud on the car is worse than running it through the automated wash process. So I will use the facility without hesitation.
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      11-13-2008, 11:31 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbrucebmw View Post
It all depends on the guy putting the car into the track at the wash. As someone mentioned above they are supposed to align the wheels with the inside of the track so the inside of the wheels gets scratched. If they don't or the car wanders to the outside, the wheel will get scratched where you see it. My ex's C32 had front wheels with spokes protruded past the rim and 6 times she had them scratched by a car wash guy that was not careful. One time I even warned the guy, then watched him rub the wheel against the outside of the track. He got out and looked at it and said there is nothing wrong as the paint was rubbed off the spokes, even with a plastic lined track. I never put my E36 M3 through a car wash because its too low on coilovers and it had BBS RCs that would be difficult to refinish.
Yes!!! I completely agree. All it takes is one poor approach to the tracks by some $10/HR. Yahoo, and you're screwed. I'm obsessive/compulsive when it comes to parallel parking my car, so as to not EVER curb my rims.

Sure enough, after one of the very few times I've taken my car to the automatic soft-cloth wash, one of the 18 yr. old idiots jumped in after vacuuming the interior and curbed my front wheel on my 335 while aligning my car with the track.

After I take delivery of my M3, I will NEVER take it to an automatic wash w/ tracks. It only takes 1 bad pass to ruin your wheel.....hand wash in the summer, and only touch-less in the winter.
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      11-18-2008, 09:44 PM   #21
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