Frequently Asked Questions

13 Money-Saving Tips To Help You Protect Your Car's Finish

The 13 Questions most frequently asked by our customers

Q. Does it really help a car's value to keep its finish looking new?

A. Yes! Appearance is the first thing people look for in a used car. If a car's finish turns buyers off, it's virtually impossible to get a good price - no matter how well the car runs. Used car managers agree. When they have two identical cars, both mechanically fit and comparably equipped, appearance really makes the difference. The car which is noticeably rusted, dull and spotty will sell for significantly less than the same car with a showroom finish. So proper care of the car's appearance will definitely pay off at trade-in time!

Q. I wash my car at home using a garden hose. Lately, the finish looks dull and marked. What could be wrong?

A. Washing your car at home is extremely harmful to the finish. Tests conducted by the University of Texas proved that a single home hand-wash can leave scratches in the finish as deep at 1/10 of the paint's total thickness. And, that the average garden hose can't supply enough water and water pressure along with the detergent action to avoid damaging a car's finish.

This important study concluded that automobile owners should avoid washing their cars at home. Only a professional carwash can provide the proper amounts of water and water pressure needed along with the appropriate, professional cleaning solutions to safely and effectively clean your car.

Q. Is it true that my new car shouldn't be washed or waxed for a certain period of time?

A. This may have been true a long time ago, but with the new modern acrylics and enamels, your new car's finish needs tender care immediately. Be careful to wash your car properly. Most new cars are treated with a clear-coat finish. So it's important that you exercise extreme care - especially when washing your new car for the first few times. Many initial washing errors result in water-spots, setting stains and loss of luster. Without the benefit of layers of protective coating that your car will receive over the years, mistakes made during the first few washes may not be correctable.

Should you decide to wax your car, use a wax that's compatible with your paint. Check your owner's manual and the wax's label for instructions.

The best advice is to trust your car's finish to a professional from the beginning.

Q. How often should I have my car washed?

A. It depends. If your car is exposed to corrosive materials like salt, sand and industrial fallout, it should be washed often. The same goes for vehicles in areas with high humidity. Moisture attracts contaminants and promotes a variety of chemical reactions that can destroy your car's finish. Frequent washing is essential to the life of your car's chrome and painted surfaces.

In seasons or climates less conducive to corrosion, a wash every two weeks should be adequate. In areas with acid rain, a wash every ten days is advised. Of course, these estimates may vary depending upon whether your car is kept in a garage or out in the elements.

Q. I have soft water at my home which I use to wash my car. So why does my finish look dull and scratched?

A. Actually, there are two answers to your question. First, soft water utilizes salts to soften minerals. These salts may leave a residue that can be very harmful to your car's finish. So make sure that you dry your car completely as soon as you're finished washing it. Otherwise, the finish may wind up looking dull or cloudy.

The second problem has to do with the amount and pressure of the water used to wash your car. Your hose just can't put out enough water to remove sand and dirt particles that get trapped in the sponge or mitt you use in washing. It's like washing your car with sandpaper. The Professional equipment at our carwash is engineered to provide the optimum amount of water and water pressure to best clean and protect your car's finish.

Q. What is the best cleaner to use to wash my car?

A. That's a tough question, since most cars are made up of a lot of different surfaces. Acrylic paint, vinyl, chrome, rubber, plastic, glass, cloth, sheet metal and other materials all demand a variety of cleaners. So let's start with cleaners that you shouldn't use. Most household cleaning products have solvents that break down the oils in paints and vinyl. Laundry detergents usually have extremely high alkaline levels that also can harm the finish. And soaps can leave the dull film.

Only at a professional carwash like ours can you always get the right solutions dispensed in the right proportions. For example in the summer we use a higher percentage of insect-removing solutions. And in the winter we use added solutions to combat salt deposits. In fact, carwashes across the nation develop their own customized solution programs to best fit their area's needs.

When you do clean at home, you should have a variety of cleaners on hand. Be sure to carefully read all label directions, since many cleaners can damage other surfaces. And remember, just because a small amount of a cleaner works well, that doesn't mean that more works better. The best thing to do is to consult a professional here at our carwash.

Q. Does using a brush or sponge to wash my car at home really make a difference?

A. It sure does! When you wash your car at home, using a brush or sponge can really damage your car's finish. Tests have shown that when you wash your car with a brush or sponge, a good portion of paint can be removed. You end up with a dull, scratched finish and a lot of frustration.

Only professional carwashes utilize special wash processes designed in conjunction with automobile paint manufacturers. Using the correct water volume, water pressure and cleaning solutions, today's modern carwash is the safest, quickest, most efficient way to clean your car.

To prove this the Mercedes Benz Company recently performed a test in Munich, Germany by washing one group of cars 25 times by hand and another group 25 times at a professional carwash. The professional equipment produced noticeably brighter finishes than the cars washed by hand. In fact, the hand washed cars need compounding and polishing to restore their original shine.

As you can see, washing your car at a professional carwash really makes a difference.

Q. Periodically, I notice a layer of residue on my car's finish. Is it from the atmosphere, and is it harmful?

A. What you are referring to are black particles that come from areas of heavy traffic. They are gritty, abrasive substances coming off tires as they wear. Also, chemicals from diesel smoke and other emissions in the atmosphere settle on your car's surface. If this residue isn't removed immediately, permanent damage to the finish can result.

Q. Why does my car seem to ride better after I've had my car washed? Is it in my head?

A. Not at all! Actually, it's very simple. Dirt and grime collect in the areas around your car's wheels. The concentrated spray at professional carwashes loosens and rinses the grime, giving you a smoother ride. The spray also helps prevent rusting inside of the wheel wells - the most difficult type of rust to stop.

In addition, tests show that a properly cleaned and waxed car has less wind resistance resulting in a smoother ride and improved fuel economy.

Q. After a long trip, when should I wash off insect residue?

A. As soon as possible, especially if the car is brand new. Insect residue and bird droppings form acids that start to eat away at a car's finish immediately.

Q. What's the major cause of rust?

A. Rust is simply the oxidation of untreated metal surfaces when they come in contact with the elements. Moisture is the main cause of rust. And since dirt attracts and traps moisture, a dirty car is the instigator of almost all car rust, especially in those hidden areas behind chrome and trim. Only a professional carwash operator has the equipment and know-how to effectively reach all those hard-to-reach places and remove corrosion-producing grime before damage is done.

Q. What can I do to remove the tar that occasionally gets on my car?

A. Tar and certain oils used on roads require an extremely strong solvent to remove. Naturally, we can't use these solvents when we wash your car since just a few washings with such strong chemicals could harm your car's finish. However, there are many excellent tar solvents on the market, and we would be happy to recommend one to you. A word of caution: follow directions carefully and wash your car as soon as possible after using such a solvent.

Q. Lately my windshield becomes smeared when I run my wipers. What am I doing wrong?

A. Perhaps you haven't changed your wiper blades recently. Most manufacturers recommend installing new blades every three months. This will prevent wearing and smearing, which can impair your vision and that can be extremely dangerous.

In Conclusion:

Keep in mind that a Downtowner Full Service carwash is as safe for the environment as it is for your car. Modern technology has provided us with specially designed systems and equipment that help us to conserve water, minimize waste and protect all of your natural surroundings.

One thing every automobile and paint manufacturer agree on . . . keep your car clean by using a professional carwash. Since your car is probably the second largest investment you'll ever make, treat its cleanliness as an investment. The dividend definitely will pay off at trade-in time.


To our valued customers: Thank you for your patronage.  All of our CAR WASHES remain open as long as our management team feels we are providing a safe, sanitized environment for our employees and customers. We provide a “windows up” wash experience with MINIMAL HUMAN CONTACT. See specific location on website for store hours.

What we are doing to create a safe environment for our employees and customers during COVID-19:

  • All employees wearing gloves when on site;
  • Pay stations, vending machines, vacuum hoses are sanitized between every customer;
  • Facility door handles, benches, other frequently touched areas are sanitized regularly;
  • Dog wash bays are sanitized between each use (this has always been our procedure);
  • Employees on site practicing social distancing and communicating with radios;
  • Every other vacuum stall is coned off to provide additional distancing;
  • Fast Pass (unlimited wash plan) customers will experience a “windows up” wash with ZERO CUSTOMER CONTACT—as your vehicle pulls up to the pay station, the gate raises automatically.
  • Complete decontamination/ disinfecting of the entire site is being performed before opening, at closing, and constantly throughout the day. 
  • Employees instructed to wash hands thoroughly and frequently per CDC guidelines.

We have put these procedures in place to provide a CUSTOMER CONTACT FREE environment for our customers and employees.  We will continue to monitor information from the CDC, federal and local government, and will make decisions and adjust procedures accordingly. Thank you and be well.