How Long Does an Automatic Car Wash Take? – Think to Know

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton


There may come a time when you don’t have time for hand car washing, so you consider the much faster automatic car wash to clean your vehicle. If you’re in that situation, you might be curious how long does an automatic car wash take.

Several factors can affect car washing duration like the car wash type, car wash process, etc. But typically, the average car wash time is three to four minutes.

Factors That Affect Car Wash Duration


How long do automatic car washes take would vary from one automatic car wash to another because they are not built and programmed the same. Their differences are factors that can affect car washing duration. Those factors are listed below.

1. Type of Automatic Car Wash

Automatic car washes are either touchless or soft-touch. Each car wash type differs in car washing duration. But apart from that, they also each have their pros and cons.

So you should also look into each of the car wash type’s pros and cons aside from their car washing duration if you’re looking into getting a car wash. That way, you’ll be able to get the best option that suits your car washing needs.

The touchless car wash is usually the faster type of automated car wash compared to the soft-touch car wash. It usually only takes about three minutes for a touchless car wash to be completed.

What makes this automated car wash type faster is that it doesn’t undergo the scrubbing process, unlike the soft-touch car wash. Rather, it relies on hoses placed strategically for efficiently spraying high-pressure water and strong detergents on a car in order to thoroughly clean it.

Moreover, since no brushes would get in contact with a car in the washing process, it is least likely that your car would get any damage. So with its super quick washing with little to no damage, this automatic car wash type can provide the fastest and safest wash for your car.

  • Soft-Touch Car Wash

The soft-touch car wash may take up to four minutes to complete, a minute longer than its no-brush alternative, but it’s more effective in cleaning dirt and grime off a car.

In this automated car wash type, a car gets further and more thoroughly cleaned with the added brushes that are specially designed to reach the different parts of the car. The brushes would get in contact with your car’s surface then move back and forth to get rid of the surface dirt and grime.

The brushing may add a minute or two to the car washing duration. But the slightly longer duration would be worth the cleaner results. While the touchless car wash may be the faster option, the soft-touch car wash is more effective in cleaning.

However, a soft-touch car wash can also pose risks to your car. Although the brushes work well in removing dirt and grime, they may also cause dirt to scratch the paint job, strip car wax off, and damage its ceramic coating.

2. Process of the Automatic Car Wash

There is no uniform procedure in car wash automation. The steps in car washing can slightly vary among different automatic car washes.

For example, some automatic car washes would only rinse a car at the start and the end of the car wash, while some would rinse every time a new detergent has been used. Also, there are some soft-touch car washes that may perform several cleanings with brushes.

3. Each Car Washing Step’s Duration

The duration of a certain step can also vary among automatic car washes, so that also can affect the duration of an automatic car wash. To give an example, some automatic car washes would rinse for only a few short seconds and immediately spray detergents, while others would rinse for a longer duration before the next step.

4. Resources of a Car Wash

The resources a car wash has also affect car washing duration. The more or the better the equipment they have would result in faster and more effective cleaning.

Particularly speaking, for a soft-touch car wash, the more brushes they have, the more efficient the cleaning process is. While for the touchless car wash, a faster means of spraying water will reduce cleaning time.

Tips for Getting a Car Wash Much Quicker

how long does a car wash take

We’ve already discussed car washing duration and the factors that can affect it. But even if an automatic car wash is fast, you would also need to consider the timing and vacancy if you really want to get your car washed quickly. Use the following tips to get a car wash quickly.

Go For a Car Wash That’s Mostly Free

Save time and avoid lines by searching for a good car wash that has vacancies and make sure that it has positive reviews. You can search on the internet. But you’ll be unlikely to find one in the middle of a city.

Avoid Peak Hours

You’re least likely to get a car wash quickly if there are a lot of cars waiting in line. So go to a car wash during hours when it’s completely vacant. If there is a car wash that’s open 24/7 near you, you may either go early in the morning or late in the evening like midnight.

Avoid Weekends or a Day Before a Festival

Avoid going to a car wash on weekends or a day before a festival. In such circumstances, there’ll be a lot of cars waiting in line for a car wash.

What Happens in an Automatic Car Wash

Aside from knowing how long does a car wash take to plan for a car wash according to your schedule, it would also be a good idea to know what happens in an automatic car wash. This will help you understand and prepare for the process. Although not all car washes are the same, the following steps are generally what happens.

  • Step 1: You would first drive into the car wash and park your car. In some car washes, you may step out of the car, while in some, you would remain inside the car.
  • Step 2: A sensor would signal the digital control system that the car is all set for the wash.
  • Step 3: The car would be rinsed. In a soft-touch car wash, a cloth or plastic would remove the dirt and grime from the car after rinsing. In a touchless car wash though, there won’t be any scrubbing, and it would directly proceed to the next step.
  • Step 4: Car wash shampoo or any other detergent is sprayed on the car.
  • Step 5: In a soft-touch car wash, cloth strips attached to a frame will rub the car’s surface back and forth. In a touchless car wash, this doesn’t apply; instead, the next step happens.
  • Step 6: A foam applicator would apply a deep-cleansing foam to the car’s surface.
  • Step 7: In a soft-touch car wash, the car would move through some soft cloth steps that would scrub the car. They would latch against the car and clean it along with the foam.
  • Step 8: Water is sprayed on the car to rinse off the foam.
  • Step 9: The car would be dried either with high-pressure air or soft cloths.
  • Step 10: In some car washes, the car would also be passed through a low-pressure system that would spray wax on its surface. But you can leave out that part if you’re not confident with the quality of wax used.


Thanks to automated car washes, car owners get to have an effortless and super fast way to get their cars cleaned. Although there is no exact answer to the question, “How long does an automatic car wash take?”, you can be assured that it will take only very little time. Also, if you’re very busy, follow the tips for getting a car wash much quicker.

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