HAND, MACHINE & KEROSENE?.. or the great car wash debate…

the weapons
the weapons

From my early years before I ever drove a car. I remember our family cars being washed at a garage, in our driveway or in a 1950’s style, automatic car wash. By the time I got my driver’s license and my brand new 1963 Plymouth Barracuda I was the family car wash and wax expert. My interest in cars grew and my need to have my cars carefully maintained and immaculate became standard practice. My friends and I were convinced that clean and freshly polished cars were faster. White walls

and raised white lettered tires had to be bleach white, exhaust tips had to sparkle and windows had to be crystal clear; even if the paint on your older car was bad and those things were done,  it looked great!

I remember one day one of my friends told a group of us he discovered a new secret car wash ingredient. A group of us lined up our cars and washed them using our favorite soaps and cloths; we had agreed no one could touch each other’s car after washing them. Our friend’s car came out looking like it was just waxed, he won, and the secret ingredient was Kerosene. We later found out that a man had worked around the neighborhood promising to make old
cars look like new with a special chemical for only a few bucks. The man as well as the shine disappeared quickly. Many of us never tried that again.  Today ingredients are clearly marked on just about everything in those days it was buyer beware.

It has been many years since the amazing Kerosene Car Wash Contest; I still enjoy washing cleaning and detailing my cars. Not always having time, pure laziness, or a few extra dollars in my pocket has very often turned my need for a clean car to a local car wash.  Kerosene is out but Hand wash or machine wash is the question. Having had a large selection of types and styles of cars has expanded my particular needs, for my sport and personal cars I prefer hand washing; in the beginning these were very low-budget operations with a long wait. Living in the northeast and experiencing winters snow and salt introduced me to the value of machine washes for SUVs’ with undercarriage spray; in the beginning if they didn’t wash it off they scraped it off. Usually there is one older car in my group and that one gets a high pressure Robo or wand wash and an occasional inside out machine wash. Technology on all fronts in the car washing and detailing industry has advanced as well as the paint finishes of cars. Automotive Paint is one of, if not the hardest most resilient surfaces made by man; unlike the enamel finishes of yesterday thinner is better.

Recently I was given a Free Superior Car Wash after servicing my Equinox LTZ at the dealer. I had a very nice discussion with the owner. I told him that I prefer hand washes and he asked me why; I told him I felt it was much

the northener
the northerner

safer for the car finish. He told me I was under a misconception. Speaking for his facility he said “he only uses pure not re-circulated water, special lubricants in the soap, wash pads and wheels that shed all the dirt, and they rinse and liquid wax before drying” I can tell you that this car wash  was state of the art, well staffed, well supervised and a professional operation. My Equinox looked great inside and out and well worth the price had I paid for it.  Shortly after that I was down in Florida at My condo and my Bravada needed some attention, the car wash was to busy so off to a Super Robo Wash and after 5 months of Florida dust and grime it was spotless no brushes all high pressure water soap and wax. At the Robo wash there is no one to talk too, no one to tip, almost no

The more mature southerner

wait in and out in about five minutes. When I returned home to New York I picked up my pride and joy a 2007 Pontiac Solstice convertible;I thought about my conversation at the high-tech machine wash and decided on the hand wash. The hand wash is also a super modern professional operation. I spoke to the owner about my conversation with the owner of the machine wash and asked him his opinion. “He said his hand wash

The Traveler

was better because he uses pure water not reclaimed, he only uses the best wool wash mitts that are thoroughly rinsed, that unlike machines one size for all, his staff adjust to size and shape of the vehicle, that he does a triple rinse, and final drying a with clean dirt free materials”. My Solstice came out beautiful its metallic Ming Blue clear-coat was brilliant!

So one thing is common to both clean virgin water rules, however; machines are faster and one size fits all, hand washing is more labor intensive but adjusts to every size and body style. Some other important facts you must consider are the better your paint finish the better the results, car washes today are more like detail centers and all the interior work is still done by hand, the staff and their training will affect the results, if you are a regular customer who tips well your car will get a little more attention , car washing has to fit your expectations as well as personal preferences, and car washing is only a part of your car’s interior and exterior maintenance.

For me I can honestly say…I will never recommend Kerosene!  And although I prefer hand washing I realize the potential for scratching the finish when contaminants come into play.

Keep them clean keep them shiny…I am sure they do go faster!

alan b. meschkow 10/28/2016

These three car washes in my opinion are my choice when in NY or Florida…And the basis for many my comments.

Coram Hand Detail Center
Coram Hand Detail Center
Riverhead Machine Wash Riverhead
Riverhead Machine Wash
Max's hand wash Hallandale Fl.
Max’s hand wash Hallandale Fl.


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