Learn How to Use a Drive Through Car Wash in 9 Easy Steps

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to use a drive through car wash

If you don’t feel like dealing with the time-consuming, effortful process of manually washing your car, you can always just go to a drive thru carwash. But if you don’t know how to use a drive through car wash, that’s a different issue. No worries, because this article will discuss that.

In a nutshell, once you’ve found a carwash, you’ll just have to pay in the payment station; drive up to the track system; turn off, close, and lock all necessary things in your car for precaution; then just sit and let the automatic car wash do the job.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial


There isn’t any tool required for getting a car wash service. All you need to have is your car and of course, money to pay for the car wash service.

How to Use a Drive Through Car Wash Step by Step Instructions


It’s understandable how it can be anxiety-inducing when you don’t know how to do something that you will do for the first time. But using a car wash isn’t really that complicated. You just need to follow these steps below:

Step 1. Search for a Car Wash

You can usually find car washes at some gas stations. Those gas stations would even often offer discounts on car wash services to those who buy fuel from them. There are also some standalone car wash businesses.

You can search on Google, “drive thru car wash near me” or “drive thru car wash + your location.” Look for those in close proximity to your house, workplace, or other places you frequent.

You can check out or inquire about their rates. Then depending on the best price and the closest location, you can choose which car wash would be more convenient for you.

Step 2. For Newer Cars: Go With Soft-Touch, Touchless, or Brushless Car Washes

The aforementioned types of car washes don’t use the abrasive brushes, which are typically utilized in older car washes. Modern cars, unlike older cars, usually have a thin layer of clear coating on the base paint. That makes newer cars more vulnerable to damages that could not be buffed out.

Older cars, on the other hand, only have single-stage paint and don’t have a clear coating. So they can tolerate older car washes’ abrasive brushes.

Step 3. Make Your Payment at the Payment Station or Cashier

Automated car washes usually have a payment station that looks like what you would see in a fast food drive thru. If the car wash you went to has one, drive up to it and select the car wash service you want. If there is no payment station, head on to the cashier’s counter to pay.

Car washes usually offer a variety of packages to deliver various needs, whether just a basic car wash or a car wash with additional services like undercarriage washing, wax coating, tire detailing, etc. Choose one that meets your needs and budget, then pay for it.

Step 4. Drive Through the Carwash Entrance and Pull Up to the Car Wash Track


When you navigate to a car wash area, follow arrows or signs that lead to where you should stop your car.

The process usually starts with you driving forward to align your car with the car wash’s track system, which will be guiding your car throughout the washing process. Lights and arrows would then signal when you’ve finally positioned your car onto the track.

Once positioned, if your car has a manual transmission, set it in neutral, if it’s with automatic transmission, set it in park. Then, remove your hands from the wheel and your foot from the brake.

Step 5. Turn Off the Automatic Windshield Wiper

Some modern cars are equipped with the automatic setting for the windshield wipers, which allows the wiping away of water without manual control. For car owners that have this feature in their car, you must make sure to turn it off to prevent any damages to your wipers and windshield.

If you don’t know how to turn this feature off, you can read your car’s manual. If you have an electric car, you can do it simply by pressing the button for the “Persistent Windshield Wiper” on the main computer interface and then pressing “Off”.

Step 6. Roll Up and Lock Windows

Another important thing you should make sure of when you go through a car wash is to roll up all of the windows in your car. See to it that all are closed and no window is partially open by doing a double-check.

If you have children with you, be extra careful and prevent the windows from accidentally being rolled down by locking them.

Step 7. Turn Your Car’s Engine off if Advised

In some automated car washes, you would be asked to turn your car’s engine off. However, if you’re not told anything, just follow the instructions in your car’s manual. For example, some cars require turning the engine off but with the key kept in the ignition.

Also, if your car is equipped with the collision avoidance feature, you must turn it off if you’ll keep your car’s engine on.

Step 8. Sit and Wait For the Carwash to Finish

After you’ve done all those precautionary measures for your car, there’s nothing else to do but sit and just let the automated car wash do its job.

In the car washing process, the track system will be moving your car forward. Due to the force and motions of the water pouring from the water jets as well as of the brushes wiping your car, you may experience a slight shaking in the car and hear a bit of noise.

Step 9. Exit Once the Washing Is Complete

When the car wash is finally finished, a sign or flashing light will appear to notify you when it’s safe to make your exit from the garage.

If you turned your engine off, turn it back on and set your car into drive. Drive out slowly and carefully as a caution for any vehicles or pedestrians passing by, especially if the car wash is by a gas station.


Were you pleased with this tutorial? Knowing how to use a drive through car wash will get rid of the anxiety for car owners and prevent any problems when undergoing a car wash. Just keep in mind the steps in this article, and your car wash will go smoothly.

If you have any thoughts that you want to share, you’re free to post them in the comments. And sharing is caring, so share this article if you have friends who might need this too.

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