We know that a good hand wash can really clean a vehicle but it may not always be convenient in our busy lives.
If you want the shine but don't have the time, you have the option of sitting in your vehicle and going through a tunnel while machines and computers do all the work. In three minutes your ride could be good as new - or perhaps not.
It depends on which car wash you should use. You have plenty of options: express, touchless or the tunnel wash found at most gas stations. At any of these locations you can get a basic car wash for $5 to $6.
How do you know if you are getting what you pay for? For the answer FOX6 News Investigative Reporter Ronda Robinson turns to the Immediate Past President of the Southeastern Car Wash Association, Marcus Kittrell, who has worked in the industry since 1983.
"The technology has changed over the last 10 years. The computer systems, the materials we wash cars with, the reclaim systems used to recycle water," he said.
With the help of the Irondale Police Department, we grab a few cars then head to several locations to check them out.
First an express car wash at Goo-Goo Express Wash on Crestwood Boulevard. The basic wash there is $6. Marcus says we should pay attention certain areas.
"You want to look at the wheels, the door handles, hard for brushes to get in there, check around mirrors. Good job," he said.
Next, we try a touchless car wash at Auto Oasis on Lorna Road. Did this $5 basic wash measure up?
"The car is still extremely wet and still a lot of dirt left on the car. I would want my car rewashed again if it came out like this," Kitrell said.
We shared with the owner Truitt Luckie what our expert found and asked if he would be willing to offer another car wash.
"We want to make our customers happy. We do what we need to make them happy," he said.
Last but not least, we head to the car wash at Bama Gas on North Chalkville Road.
"There is still dirt here on the wheels. There's still a lot of dirt on the lenses here. A lot of water on the car," Kitrell said.
Kitrell says that can leave hard water spots on vehicles.
"We have not received any complaints about it. We will dispatch a maintenance man to see if there is a problem. We would be willing to wash the car again," the manager of that car wash said.
According to our expert, you shouldn't expect to clean a very dirty and muddy vehicle with a basic wash. To get the best results from a basic wash you should do it on a regular basis. If the place offers free vacuuming that gives you even more for your money.
If you are concerned about brushes scratching the surface, Marcus says ask to touch and feel them. The same set up is used at most dealerships.
As for other damage to your car, look for signs that address what the owner is willing to do about it.
If you pay for extra services like wax or tire shine make sure you get it by inspecting your vehicle before and after the wash.
Last but not least if you are not happy with the results let the someone know. Most businesses will let you go through a second time.
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