The Rest of the Story: What the 1976 Film “Carwash” Didn’t Tell You

Originally Published on VehicleMD.com on May 1, 2012
“Come on and sing it with me, carwash
Get the feeling y’all carwash, yeah…
Hey get your car washed today
Come on and give us a play
Get a wash right away!”

— Rose Royce

People of all ages are familiar with this disco favorite. The song “Carwash” debuted at number one in the United States on the Billboard Pop and R&B charts and accompanied the 1976 film “Carwash.”

However good the movie was it forgot to explain the importance of taking your car to a full-service wash, which is understandable since that would have done some serious damage to the plot. Thankfully, though, you have VehicleMD in your hand and we’re more than happy to take on this task that the film left unfinished.

“One of the biggest reasons you should have your car washed is to maintain its value,” said Carl Howard, chief operating officer for Autobell Car Wash, a 63-store chain on the East Coast. “Almost every car manufactured in the past few years has been clear-coated, which is a clear film of paint on top of the color paint. This is a high gloss finish and regularly having your car washed is the best method of protecting and maintaining this finish.”

Since more people are trying to stay in the car they’re currently driving for longer, it’s important to maintain the value and condition of the vehicle, which includes not only regular washing, but waxing as well.

A common misconception of the general population is that a vehicle with a clear coat finish does not need to be waxed.

According to experts, clear coat finishes can still be damaged by acid rain. Even with minimal outdoor exposure, any clear coat finish can begin to deteriorate after two years. Some of the enemies of your car’s finish are the sun’s ultraviolet rays, rain, snow, salt and normal road wear. The elements are unavoidable when driving, so have your vehicle regularly waxed. You’ll feel better with a shield protecting your pretty paint job from the wicked weather elements.

Many drivers understand the importance of protecting the paint but seem to forget the undercarriage of the vehicle, which oftentimes sees the most abuse.

“After a snow or freeze, cities usually treat the roads with salt or a brine mixture of salt, sand and gravel. This can be corrosive to the undercarriage, which gets the brunt of exposure. Over time, the undercarriage will begin to rust and deteriorate if not maintained,” Howard said.

Most full-service carwashes offer an undercarriage treatment rinse that will protect the metal from rust and decay.

And we can’t forget the interior of your vehicle. In order to make your vehicle last, the interior will need to be taken care of, as well.

“The interior is important because what people don’t realize is that the interior can harbor germs and bacteria that you don’t want your children or anybody exposed to,” Howard said. “Not only does your vehicle last longer, but it’s an important sanitary practice.”

So what should regularly washing, waxing and detailing your car mean to you?

“In general, you want to wash your car at least twice a month. It all depends on the elements the car is exposed to, however, so you may need to wash your car more often,” he said.

Waxing regularly again depends on exposure, but waxing your car at least every three to four months is a good habit to have, and most full-service carwashes use protectants that are very effective in taking care of your vehicle in the elements.

You may be asking yourself, “Why can’t I just wash my car myself. What’s the advantage of having someone do it for me?”

First of all, washing a car is work—work that many people with hectic lifestyles just don’t have time for; however, a full-service carwash can have a customer in and out in much shorter time than if the customer were to try to wash their car themselves—I’m betting their vehicle looks better, too.

Second, professional carwashes are gentler to auto finishes than the ‘ol hose-and-bucket method, and cleaning solutions are specifically formulated for clear coat and other new car finishes. Washing your car with your leftover dishwasher detergent just doesn’t do the same job as formulated carwash soap.

Third, washing your car in your driveway is not environmentally sound. The water runs into the street and goes into the storm drain, which often flows directly to creeks and streams. The water mixture, which is a combination of water, soap and whatever happened to be on your dirty car, can be harmful to wildlife and can contaminate drinking water.

“All commercial carwashes are required to capture the waste water and treat it before releasing it,” Howard said. “Some carwashes have a more complex system that cleans the water before it’s released back into the sanitary system.”

An added benefit is that most carwashes use biodegradable cleaning solutions, which adhere to strict environmental regulations that all professional full-service carwash companies must abide by.

If you’re car isn’t quite looking up to snuff, then turn on some Rose Royce and take your car to the carwash today.

“Well those cars never seem­ to stop comin’
Keep those rags and machines hummin’
Hey get your car washed today…
Get a wash right away.”

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