Can A 4X4 Go Through A Car Wash?

Most cars never have a single problem going through a car wash. However, car washes are simply built to accommodate the average vehicle on the market at the time the car wash is built. If your car is above average or has been modified in any way, you may have a problem. Specifically, though, there are a few questions about the ability for 4×4’s to go through car washes.

Can a 4×4 go through a car wash? Most of the time, yes. However, if you have modified your vehicle at any point, or added extra features, you will need to measure your vehicle and figure out the dimensions of the car wash you want to use.  Sometimes added lifts or external features can cause the vehicle to not fit. 

can a 4x4 go through a car wash

While there can be problems when taking your 4×4 through a car wash, they are very limited and usually only associated with those that have been modified. Thankfully, there are also other options for washing your vehicle that doesn’t include automatic brushes or small tunnels you have to fit your car into, several of these options actually don’t include anything automatic at all, you simply have people washing your car for you!

Problems Taking Your 4×4 Through a Car Wash

When taking your vehicle through the car wash, most people will likely never run into any issues.  However, given that 4×4’s are already bigger than your average vehicle, you may run into problems when trying to wash your car. Most 4×4’s are built with bigger frames and other specifications to accommodate the situations, and various terrain’s the vehicles will be exposed to due to your hobbies. 

Generally, a large majority of people choose to modify their 4×4’s to better suit their needs for the vehicle. Modifying your vehicle includes, but it not limited to:

  • Lift kits
  • Suspension mods
  • Tire size
  • Snorkel kits
  • Roll cage
  • Extra-large truck beds

All of these modifications can affect how large your 4×4 is externally, which obviously means you may or may not fit into car washes. 

Muddy 4x4 needs washing

Standard car washes only plan for unmodified cars, trucks, or SUV’s on the market when the car wash was built.  This means that you can also run into issues if you have a newer car, especially if the car wash building was built a decade or more before your car was made. However, Most car washes have beams or signs that show how tall your car can be before it becomes a problem.  This allows for recognition before getting into the building and causing damage. 

Fortunately, just the general idea of a 4×4 is not enough reason to cause concern at a car wash.  Generally, people prefer not to use an automatic car wash due to suspected issues with paint damage or water pressure that is too high. 

Alternatives to Automatic Car Washes

When you need a car wash, it’s always easiest to simply pay for an automatic car wash, in five minutes you have a clean car, and you are on your way. However, if that isn’t an option for you, there are plenty of other choices for you to look at.

  • Self-service car wash

You simply drive up to a stall at a self-service car wash and pay to use their equipment. They have hoses that give you soap, water, clear shine rinse, and wax. They also have brushes!

  • Wash your car at home

Washing your car is home is the most cost-effective option.  You need to buy your supplies beforehand. However, once you buy them, you can use them over and over.  With several of the supplies, you only buy them once every few months or once a year, depending on how often you wash your car. 

  • Pay for a Full-Service Handwash

You can pay certain places, either per time or per month, for them to hand wash and detail your car.  This allows for the intricacy of handwashing, without you having to do it yourself. 

The automatic car washes are only one option of many ways to get your car washed.  You may have to look for specific services that will help get your vehicle clean after mudding, or other extreme type activities that could cause caked-on dirt or mud. Sometimes, services will charge extra for having to clean the undercarriage if there is a large amount of dirt as well.

Problems With Automatic Car Washes

While automatic car washes can be great in a pinch, once or twice a year, using them regularly for your normal way to wash your car, is not recommended. Automatic car washes usually fall into two categories, each with their own pros and cons. There are also several subtypes of car washes that fall under both types. 

  • In-bay Automatic

This type of car wash allows customers to drive into the bay and place their cars in the park. They remain stationary while a brush or spray type system does the work to clean the car. Due to the lack of motion, these types of car washes require less space than tunnel automatics. 

  • Tunnel Automatics

These car washes move the cars through the tunnel using a conveyer belt, chains, rollers, and motors. Customers choose how they want their car washed, and then they flow directions (from a screen or an employee) to drive their car to the starting position.  They can then place the car in neutral and sit back while the system cleans their car. 

Express/full-service tunnels

Some tunnel car washes offer full-service visits.  This is usually where several employees at a time tend to your car while it rolls through a tunnel at a low rate of speed. They can cover everything from car washes to internal detailing and oil changes. The downside to this is usually cost driven up due to the number of workers it takes to complete this in a shorter amount of time. 

The Options Don’t End There

Now, these are the two types of ways you can go through a car wash. If you are looking for even more detail on your automatic car wash options, you can research and find more specific options like the ones below. Both In-bay and Tunnel automatic car washes can offer these types of washes.

  • Touchless

This car wash uses only detergents and high pressured water to wash your car.  No brushes on materials actually touch your car.  This is said to help maintain the gloss or shine on your paint job, so your car looks new as long as possible. 

  • Friction

Scrubbers or brushes are uses to remove dirt from your car.  These car washes are often said to damage paint shine over time. However, there is also some debate as to whether touchless washes clean your car as well as using friction. 

  • Hybrid

These car washes combine both options of friction and touchless.  Giving you exactly what you want every time you go to get your car clean. Usually, this is just one car wash location with the option to choose whether you want to use brushes or not. 

Generally speaking, you won’t likely ever have a problem getting your car to fit into a car wash,  It’s much more likely you will be concerned with what type of car wash is going to be best for the exterior upkeep of your car. With a small amount of research and a bit of knowledge about the options you have where you are, you are more than likely to find something that fits your needs.

James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.