Getting a new car is a great feeling, and for many people, being able to buy a nice one like a Tesla is a sign of success. This can make you feel like the most important person on earth. But these nice cars do need a little extra love and care to make sure they always look nice and shiny when you drive them.
Due to weather changes, dust and dirt in the air, and long drives that make your car dirtier than usual, you may need to wash and clean your car often. Even though it’s pretty clear that you shouldn’t put your Tesla through an automatic car wash, we want to talk about why that is and what you can do instead.
Not everyone likes to wash their car by hand, but if you have a Tesla, you should take the time and make the effort to use a do-it-yourself method to protect the paint and undercarriage from damage that could happen in an automatic car wash.
Why Do Teslas Have To Be Hand Washed?
A car wash is supposed to be able to clean cars.
So, why can’t a Tesla go through a self-service car wash?
The Tesla Model 3 owner’s manual says that you can use a touchless automatic car wash. This means that the car doesn’t touch any brushes or other moving parts.
Even more, they make the point that:
“Any other kind of car wash could cause damage that the warranty doesn’t cover.”
If you do decide to use a touchless car wash on your Tesla, make sure you know how to do each of the following:
Place the car in neutral.
Put your side mirrors in (required by some wash stations)
Turn your automatic windshield wipers off.
With this in mind, let’s look at a few more reasons why you might want to stay away from these automatic car washes and wash your Tesla by hand instead.
#1 Protects Your Paint
When you drive your car through an automatic car wash, especially one with brushes, you risk damaging or scratching the paint.
The brushes are too hard for the paint on Tesla cars, which is something you want to keep in good shape, and you might be able to see tiny scratches on your car after you wash it.
#2 Undercarriage Damage
Because of how some Tesla models are made, you are more likely to damage the undercarriage when you drive over the rails that lead you through the car wash.
If you try to use one of these automatic car washes, you might damage your car and have to pay a lot to fix it.
Damaging the Battery
Because of the same thing I said about the damage that could happen to the undercarriage, your battery could also get damaged.
For some Tesla models, driving over the rails that look like the undercarriage could hurt the battery. This could be a hard repair to deal with, and you probably want to avoid it as much as possible.
Not every automatic car wash has to worry about guide rails.
There are automatic brushless options that could make painting easier.
Can be helpful in the winter to get rid of salt deposits.
Car washes don’t get rid of all the grime.
Costs more than do-it-yourself options
Could sometimes cause damage
How To Wash Your Tesla At Home
If you decide that a self-service car wash is not right for you and your car, the only way to get it done right is to do it yourself.
But you could make small mistakes that could cause damage if you don’t take certain precautions. You should take steps to make sure that your do-it-yourself car wash doesn’t do as much damage as a car wash.
So, here are some tips to help you clean your Tesla and make it look new and shiny every time you wash it.
1. Pick The Best Materials
When you wash your Tesla yourself, you don’t want to use the wrong materials that will make it more likely that your car will get scratched.
So, you should make sure the towels you use are soft and either soft hand mitts or microfiber towels that won’t scratch the paint.
Also, it’s a good idea to get extra things like a bucket with a grit guard that you can put in it. The grit guard attracts dirt and keeps it at the bottom of the bucket, so dirt pieces don’t stay in the water you use to dip the towel in.
2. Do Not Use Brushes
You don’t want to take your car through an automatic car wash with brushes that could scratch it, and you don’t want to use brushes to clean your car on your own, either.
Your paint job can get scratched by brushes, and if you don’t wash your brush often enough, it will get dirty and make more scratches or swirls on the surface.
Use a soft sponge and car wash mitts to keep the paint from getting scratched.
3. Don’t Wash in a Circular Motion
Many people think that you should wash your car in a circular motion, like you do when you brush your teeth, to get rid of dirt.
But that’s not the right way to do it. To avoid swirls, you should instead use long vertical strokes that start at the top of your car.
When you drive in a circle, you leave a pattern on your car called a “swirl.”
This won’t happen if you use longer vertical strokes, and the dirt near the bottom of your car won’t get moved around and scratch your car.
Step by Step Guide to Handwashing a Tesla
Step 1 – Start With a First Layer
When you wash your car, you want to start by removing a layer of dirt. This means you should start by wetting the whole car and giving it a quick wash.
The best way to wash a car with a hose is to start at the top and work your way down. During this step, you will only use water.
Step 2 – Mix Your Cleaning Solution
Next, get your bucket and mix in the car cleaning solution you like to use. This can be made at home as easily as shampoo, but it’s much better to buy car wash soap.
A good soap will not only last for a long time, but it will also help protect your paint job. This one from Mr. Pink Super Suds on Amazon is the one I like best.
I love it, and so do thousands of other people. Its fun colours also help get the kids to help with the laundry.
Add more liquid and stir the mixture until you can see clear bubbles forming in the soap.
Step 3 – Begin Scrubbing!
Use the cleaning solution to start washing the car with your hand mitt or towel.
Always start at the top and work your way down. This way, you won’t miss any spots, and the soap will be able to drip down and do its magic as it goes.
You also need to make sure that every time you dip your mitt or towel into your solution, you clean it so that dirt doesn’t stick to it and scratch the paint on your car.
Step 4 – Take One Section At a Time
When you’re washing your Tesla, you should start with a small part at a time.
This lets you scrub the area and rinse it off without leaving the cleaning solution on the paint until it dries.
You want to finish this quickly so there are no gaps, so take it one step at a time to make it easier to handle.
Step 5 – Wash the Headlights and Bumper Last
When you are cleaning a certain part of the car, you should do things in a logical order.
If you start with the bumper and wash the back of the car first, dirt will get on the bumper and you will have to wash it again.
It takes more time to do this!
So, start at the back and work your way forward to the bumper.
First, clean the hood and front window of the car. Then, clean the headlights, and finally, the bumper.
Step 6 – Use Microfiber Towels to Dry
After you’re done washing and rinsing your Tesla, dry the water with soft microfiber towels so it doesn’t leave spots.
For this, it’s best to have a few towels on hand so you can dry it quickly enough to avoid leaving spots.
At this point, it might be tempting to pull out the leaf blower, but I can promise you that won’t be the best thing to do.
Final Tips for Washing your Tesla
This guide will help you clean your car the right way, but here are a few more tips that will make sure you end up with the best-looking car.
You should also wash your car where it’s cool and out of the direct sun. This will make it harder to wash your car because the cleaning solution and water mix will dry too quickly, leaving visible watermarks if you can’t scrub, rinse, and dry your car fast enough.
If you’ve washed your car wrong in the past and found swirls or small scratches, you can use scratch and swirl removers to make them smaller, less noticeable, and cover them up completely.
It could take some time to find a good product for you, but once you do, you could get rid of the small imperfections fairly easily.
You can still get hairline scratches from driving on the freeway and taking long trips, so having something on hand to clean up the area and make them look less noticeable is a great thing to keep with you.