Washing Cars Is Rigged

It makes no sense at all and there's absolutely no consistency to it. I've followed all the 'rules' of car washing to avoid scratches and swirls - used a pressure washer, pre-wash detergent to loosen dirt, light scrub using 2 bucket method (and even 2 seperate microfiber cloths to avoid dirt buildup in them), then gently dried with a quality soft sponge by simply dabbing and picking up water instead of wiping to avoid risk of aggravating scratches.

Car is as clean as the day I got it but wtf - take it out in the sun and there are hideous, blatant scratches and swirls in isolated parts. Some are even clusters of very deep scratches. It's almost like the car was hosed down with nails and coins.

I tried to do it myself because I don't trust hand car wash places. Even though I've never had any big problems in the past with my old cars, just the thought of how they operate doesn't add up to me. They wash hundreds of cars a day, usually employ young foreign people who are most likely getting minimum wage, and I can't imagine they thoroughly wash their tools/cloths often enough to avoid dirt buildup. But they seem to always wahs my cars with minimal to no damage. I don't know how, but I guess I'm just not made to wash my own car.

Does anyone else have this problem or am I just cursed? What could possibly cause so much damage during washing despite taking all the necessary precautions and then some?


  • What about those DIY ones where you just use pressure washers/ foam etc?

    • +1

      fine IF you take your own sponge/microfiber for the actual washing - do NOT use the brushes supplied.

      • +2

        Sometimes can get told off by them for doing this too. Guy came over to me and said no using your own stuff. I just said "what are you gonna do about it?" and finished washing my car. Felt bad and it was awkward though.

        • +1

          I have been through this exact conversation and didn't go back. Just deal with my gravel driveway now…

    • +7

      I see George Calombaris has a new job

  • +11

    Get it paint corrected, ceramic coating and then the old snow foam lance and pressure hose combo, finishing with a blower/dryer and you're good to go!

    • +6

      That's an excellent way to minimise scratches, but it won't clean the car very well.

      • Solves the OPs problem though hey 😂

    • This done this to my black STI last year, no scratch or swirl marks since.

      • +21

        Would it work on a black WRX or only applicable to STIs?


        • +6

          Same part but comes in a pink bottle with a STI logo at twice the price, stick with standard WRX one, damn screwbaru.

  • +3

    if you use the DIY car wash places, make sure you hose down the brush before you use it (learnt that the hard way - previous user had been scrubbing mud and gravel off his 4wd and the brush was still coated with the mud :(

    • +12

      dont use the brush at all - take your own sponge/microfibre mitt.

    • I carry 1. 2L manual pressurised sprayer filled with snowfoam/carwash; 2. wheel cleaner and brushes, 3. drying towel and maybe 4. spray sealant to the DIY car wash, spray the car scrub the wheels then just use the high pressure washer to rinse off. Obviously not as good as doing everything at home with the full gear but for $2 it will suffice.

  • +195

    Wait, you mean to say you've finally bought a car?!

    Holy smokes

    • +11

      Hahahahaha, this made me laugh way too loudly.

    • +13

      Jees after all those posts it's a fricken Mustang

      I didn't think anyone was still buying these new

      • +4


        Its not about you wash your car but how you race your car into a tree, know what I'm say'n


        • -8

          Don't put me in that boat. I seldom rev any car above 4k. Going fast is for idiots with small body parts.

          • +12

            @SlavOz: Why else would you buy a 5L V8 Mustang, if not to take it down the 1/4 occasionally or hear the burble from the exhaust?

            Without giving a shit about the power, it may as well be a 2-door Camry.

            • +1

              @spackbace: To shut those voices up about repressed sexuality?

              LOL not rev above 4K, buy a diesel br0, there was that other thread about some bloke thinking his ice cream van engine mazduh was he shitznit.

              Buy a V8 and dont light up the rears, I dont know where to begin. Guess its a auto

              • +1

                @Bid Sniper: Never driven an auto in my life. I do go above 4k revs for the occasional thrill, just on a normal drive in everyday conditions I see no need to. Getting an exhaust was also a consideration at one point but unfortunately having grown up in Sydney took virtually all the respect out of it due to countless hoons putting loud exhausts on their cars just to drive around city streets on a Friday night.

                Like I said, I appreciate a car for its subtle beauty and the fact that everyone knows it can go fast. No need to prove it to myself or others.

                • @SlavOz: Same story here with my WRX STI. Did the whole cannon muffler thing with my old WRX, so this one I modded it but keep the quiet stock mufflers.

                  Agreed dont need to bounce off rev limiter to enjoy such cars, but do enjoy the freeway on ramp :-)

                  Hearing less and less fart cannons loud cars in Sydney, guessing all defected off the road.

            • +3

              @spackbace: Buying a V8 without the balls to drive fast means he's only bought it to compensate for his lack of balls and or pen0r.

            • +1

              @spackbace: Actually, he had the Camry option, the 4 cylinder turbo. Must be a show pony thing.

          • +3

            @SlavOz: No point in having the V8 if you don’t let it off the chain once in awhile. When I had my manual Mustang I installed Roush axlebacks and the burble at idle, and popping on decel was beautiful. I overtook a Camry and a Landcruiser in one go on rural Great Ocean Rd at over double speed limit whilst over-compensating for my small body parts.

            • @OneJay: Snap crackle pop with stock tune?

              Roush diffback , $4k landed? SVT stuff looks good too

              • +1

                @Bid Sniper: Roush axlebacks, with eBay 15% off, ~$750 AUD landed. Snap crackle pop on stock tune. Fuel economy went from 430 KM on a full tank to 330 KM. Stick shift so no dogbox drone. IRS subframe braces, GT350 strut bracing, USDM red sequential tail lights, re-enabled linelock, GT350 splash screen on Ford's SYNC3. Bald Pirelli P-Zero tyres.

                Now driving a modded 1990 4AGE Corolla which is much more satisfying to build than the Mustang and just as fun, with more street cred as well.

                • +1

                  @OneJay: Thats a huge dip in fuel economy jusy from a diffback. Not because you're on the loud peddle for longer?

                  Great price on a quality muffler!

                  • @Bid Sniper: I babied the accelerator shifting at 2000-2500rpm for a week and a bit and managed 350km. It was a ridiculous dip in mileage.

                    Normally try to go with oem brands but Borla, Ford’s choice in exhausts, sounds like the dog’s breakfast. Tonal quality of the Roush was far better to my ears.

                    • @OneJay: No leaks on gaskets? thats crazy for a diffback. I slapped a louder muffler on my old WRX and marginally better or same fuel economy.

                      Roush been in the business since the 60s, they know what they're doing. Not a knock off muffler?

                • @OneJay:

                  Now driving a modded 1990 4AGE Corolla

                  How good :)

                  • +1

                    @4agte: The 4AGE can limiter bash for days without skipping a beat. Any Toyota engine Yamaha had a hand in has become legendary.

    • +3

      He sounds like the ultimate customer from hell lol

    • took me like a year to decide.

  • +2

    there are hideous, blatant scratches and swirls in isolated parts

    We can only guess when that happened. It might not have occurred during your wash, but done some time between your second last wash and the latest wash. Hell, for all we know, those scratches have been there for several months.

    Be aware that some clear coats are softer than others, so scratch more easily. Please don't tell us it's a black Honda.

  • +2

    Was washing cars always such an issue? It seems like a lot of people are having problems with swirls lately.

    • +5

      The manufacturers are probably getting stingy with their paint!

      • +1

        How would you know unless you get through the clearcoat? It is the clearcoat that has and has the imperfections. Clearcoat hardness can largely vary though. Japanese are known to be soft while Euporean cars have a very hard

    • Car paint at one stage was oil-based. They are mostly all water-based now (environmental reasons, I believe). The water-based ones are supposedly softer and more prone to scratching.

      Also, some car manufacturers tend to use a lot less paint than most (more recent Mazdas are an example). You might be able to Google "Paint Depth Gauge" or "Paint Thickness Gauge" to see if someone has measured the same car that you own.

      • Car paint at one stage was oil-based.

        Single stage enamel paints

        They are mostly all water-based now

        By the 1990s (the move started in the 80s) the industry had moved on from single stage to acrylic base coat/clear coat.

        Single stage are more prone to oxidation but can generally be fixed. Though it can get messy as you are working directly on the paint. However on clearcoats once it fails it is time for respray.

        You might be able to Google "Paint Depth Gauge" or "Paint Thickness Gauge" to see if someone has measured the same car that you own.

        Best getting measurements from areas like door jams on the car in question. You need to know what you are working with on your own vehicle not others

    • They are in the paint from factory with most manufacturers. Cars are mass produced to a cost. Fine polish will remove them with your clear coat. Many waxes and paint protection systems will fill them.

  • +25

    Most cars don't have perfect paint when you buy them. If the car was sitting in a dealership, it was likely washed and dried with a chamois 20+ times after it was detailed on arrival.

    VERY rarely does a dealership actually correct paint. They just put wax on it on arrival and when it's sold. Wax hides imperfections. It doesn't correct them.

    Wax will eventually wash off, quicker with stronger alkaline soaps. You've probably just washed off the wax to expose the existing imperfections.

    Even brand new cars with <10 km have been washed 2-3 times, and you have no control over those. The dealership will still cover up the imperfections with wax. Only way to prevent that is to insist on delivery of the new car with plastic protective wraps in place. You'll probably need more than regular soap to properly clean it anyway because a lot of nasty gunk accumulates on cars shipped overseas.

    Your best bet is to take the car straight from dealership delivery to a quality detailer for a proper paint correction and coating. You should be pretty safe to carefully wash it yourself from there.

    • +21

      … and yet, cars have to go out in the real world, that's the point of them… trying to maintain perfect paint is surely a fool's errand…?

    • What does the dealership do for a "paint correction"?

      • +8

        Send the work experience kid out with a random orbital machine and get him to go to town on it then put a glaze on it that fills in/hides any swirls and scratches until the next wash.

        • +3

          my colleague at work used a normal angle grinder for polishing, and went down to the metal on the first go lol

    • With most manufacturers have swells from factory. It's under the stickers and paper. Ask Spackbace to personally peel a black car on video in his yard, facing a light source (to illuminate the swells), if you don't believe me.

      Smart dealerships won't wax a car unless you pay for paint protection. Many ceramic coats cost similar wholesale so waxing a car is particularly dodgy.

      Dealerships will reduce visible scratches with polish. It's cheap and you only do the damaged part.

      Your best bet to avoid swell is to by a prestige brand that that takes pride in their paint job and ships their cars in a car condom. Or…

      Pay for a polish and a hard wearing paint protection after delivery. And don't buy black.

  • +17

    I used to care about things like that but after getting my car my wife's car keyed for parking in a 'parent with pram' spot, I barely notice the inevitable tiny scratches anymore.

    • -3

      Those spots are stupid anyway. Having a kid shouldn't entitle you to what is essentially a disabled spot

      • +34

        I had my toddler with me. The woman who did it afterwards said that those parking spots were for women, not men.

        • You found the person who did it?
          So she pay for damages?

          • +24

            @lovepub: She was waiting for me with her kids in tow because keying my car wasn't enough. Apparently I also deserved an earful. I was too shocked to actually say anything. Plus, I couldn't tell if she was fat or pregnant.She took my silence as me being repentant, and gave me her number so we could catch up for coffee. I think she was flirting with me towards the end.

            But yes, everything was caught on camera, I had her number and witnesses came forward.

            • +3

              @DisabledUser102420: Don't just stop there!

              Did you get retribution?

              • +33

                @sw00p: My wife's car was repainted at no cost to us.

                • +7

                  @DisabledUser102420: Feel good story of the year.

                • +2

                  @DisabledUser102420: Did she also pay for your coffee when you met up?

                  • +30

                    @Mattmattmatt: We didn't meet up. I went straight to my wife's mechanic who said there's no way in hell that he could buff it out and that the whole left side of the car would need to be resprayed. I called the number she gave me and was surprised when she answered.

                    I said, "Hey, this is the man who's car you keyed earlier today."

                    "The pajero one?," she quickly interjected.

                    "Erm, no. The blue Highlander…, " I trailed off.

                    "oh, I remember you! Curly hair and blue eyes? With a son who looks just like you? Can't do coffee today. How about tomorrow after school drop off? ," she laughed (flirtatiously?)

                    "No. I'm calling about the damage you caused to my car. Just a heads up that I'm going to contact my insurance company. I may have to get the police involved too." I said firmly.

                    "You $#$$, $®©<|÷>{] broke the law first~{¢} > €¢{{ & $$ #&$, and <©¢§ €¢} ¥¢}.$& @#$ <>>. I demand that you delete my number, you c$$$-s&$3er. You cannot give it to anyone else. It's a breach of my privacy! You} ÷|;¢} ©}.. " she screamed down the phone.

                    I quickly hung up and let my wife's insurance company deal with her. It was so surreal.

                    • +3

                      @DisabledUser102420: Extraordinary.

                    • +3


                      You $#$$, $®©<|÷>{] broke the law first

                      Those spots mean jack. Anyone can park there.

                      I parked there once without my kid and just took the pram out of the boot and walked away.

                      Even the disabled spots on private property mean nothing, or so I was told when I rang the RMS. According to them "It's at the discretion of the property owner to enforce compliance in a disabled spot."

                      • +4


                        Those spots mean jack. Anyone can park there.

                        Not with angry, flirty, enforcer mum about you can't.

                    • @DisabledUser102420: Whoa. Do you know what happened with her in the end, any charges? Did this happen in Campbelltown? Sounds like something that'd occur there.

                      • +5

                        @DisabledUser72085: Nope,Toorak. We were with the same insurance company and I'm assuming she admitted guilt after she realised there were video footage and witnesses. We didn't have to contact the police. Like I said, wasn't sure if she was pregnant or just fat, so we were happy to drop the whole thing once insurance came to the party.

                        Edit : I can't remember how much it costs to fix the car. I was overseas and my wife took care of everything. But if we had pressed charges and the damages were under $5000, it would have been "wilful damage" which carries a penalty of up to 6 months jail time. If damages had been over $5000, then it would have been "criminal damage" which carries a max penalty of 10yrs jail time.

                      • @DisabledUser72085:

                        Sounds like something that'd occur there.

                        Nah, people with mental illnesses appear everywhere.

                    • +6


                      "The pajero one?," she quickly interjected.

                      lol! So she does this a lot!

                      • +2

                        @idonotknowwhy: Sounded like it. In hindsight , maybe we should have pressed charges but the thought of having a hand in sending a pregnant woman , with little kids too, to jail ….

                    • @DisabledUser102420: Sounds like the hate bang dreams are made of 😂😂😂😂 just say someones elses name and its on 🤣🤣🤣 once she had her kid obv.

                • @DisabledUser102420: Righto, my head is spinning.

            • @DisabledUser102420: How did you go about obtaining the camera footage?

              • +1

                @Shiny Mew: From one of the witness's phone and security camera footage from one of the shops that had a clear view of my car. I didn't actually have them in my possession.

        • +1

          God damn I hate toxic sexists like her.

          • +4

            @HardlyCharly: Yep. I was a witness to an incident in a cafe once where a group of mothers were berating this nervous-looking, young man and almost brought him to tears because he had politely declined to let them go to the front of the queue. I'm pretty sure he was meeting someone for a job interview in that cafe and that's why he was so nervous looking and in such a hurry to grab his coffee.

            • @DisabledUser102420: It doesn't matter why he was there. Pray tell, what was their reasoning as to being entitled to jump the queue?

              • +3

                @BartholemewH: A strong sense of entitlement?

                It does matter why he was there as it explains why he wouldn't let them gallantly jump the queue. They pushed through anyway and I gave him my coffee because I felt bad for him.
                Ironically, I was there with my 3 kids, on an unofficial take-your-kids-to
                -work day as it was school holidays and there was no one to look after them.

              • +6

                @BartholemewH: Mate haven't you seen the news? Women are being marched to concentration camps everyday in the Western world, and have systematically been enslaved by evil white men. They're entitled to have whatever they want on demand. If you don't agree you're a Nazi.

                • @SlavOz: Sounds like your username is missing an e

                  • @idonotknowwhy: Pretty sure it's a reference to Slavic.

          • +2

            @HardlyCharly: It's okay. You can just say what it is, a toxic feminist.

        • +2

          Sounds like she was very unstable.

      • +3

        @Geoff-bargain So you’ve never had to squeeze a kid into a car seat in a normal sized space? Having the extra width makes it a lot easier to get your kid into the seat, especially if your little one needs lifting in and out of the car.

        • Maybe you should have bought a normal sized car?

          Most hatches are better than SUV's for child seats as they have a more reclined 2nd row seating position, meaning more length for rear facing baby seats/before the kid can kick your chair.

          Ask Spackbace about the Civic compared to every Toyota SUV (from memory they sold Honda's).

      • +4

        Firstly, It is sometimes difficult to get kids in and out if car seats in what are quite small parks often.

        Secondly, they allow for a designated space close to doors so that kids aren't flying all over the carpark (some carpark are better designed than others).

        I'm grateful for them when I have my kids with me but I'm ESPECIALLY grateful when I don't.

        I don't want people damaging my car doors because they don't have enough space to operate, and I don't want to have to dodge kids all over the carpark.

        You lack both empathy and the analytical ability to see where things can be of indirect benefit to you.

        Also, given the eventual response from the person above, it appears you've misread the room indeed.

          1. My local shopping center took the disabled spaces the first 3 rows closest to the door and turned them into pram spaces. Why the hell should someone with a physical disability walk 3 more rows then someone with able bodied children?

          2. They only gave you those spaces so you would come spend $$$ not even the shopping center really cares how hard it is for getting kids in out and around.

          3. If we had walked around the parking area as kids in such a way to have drivers need to dodge us my mother or father would have brutalized us. The world needs more smacks and less reasoning with 2-3yo's.

          Now you may open the flood gates of rage and hate that having opinions creates.

  • -1

    I bought a Suzuki XL-7 in 2001, only ever washed it with plain water and a sponge. When I sold it in 2016 the paintwork was like new.

    Maybe I was lucky, but then again you don't see many people waxing and polishing their Colorbond Roof!

    Do you ever wonder why the rag you use to polish a car ends up the same colour as the car? That's right, you just removed a layer of paint!

    • +2

      OP needs to be aware that waxing and polishing are two TOTALLY different things. A good quality wax provides a smooth (usually) protective coating to the paintwork. Polishing is like using an extremely fine sand paper to remove a buildup of material on the paintwork. This should be followed by a protective coating of wax. You should rarely need to use polish but waxing should be used more often.

  • -1

    I just use a car wash brush on the end of my hose with the water pressure just enough to rinse it off with easy.

    But I think OP is a bit pedantic.

    How will OP react when they start getting car park bumps and knocks on the side of their car or bird poo over the roof and bonnet of the car???

    Oh dear , OP is going to have a nervous breakdown

    • Heh, that's why it's my weekend car. Was looking for a used one but ended up going brand new. It cost me a lot, and costs even more to repair and run fuel, so driving it for everyday errands or work is uneconomical. I just keep it clean and use it for dates, formal events, or relaxing weekend cruises. I also check for bird poo or bug splats after every drive and wipe them off instantly.

      I have a cheap to run, banged up daily driver which I use for peak hour traffic driving or shopping centres :)

      • It must use a lot of fuel and cost a fortune in repairs if it is cheaper to buy and run a second car. Do your maths, you might be surprised.

        Not that I think having a nice car and using another to keep it in pristine condition is a weird thing, just the economics might not match your thoughts.

        • +1

          Car is a V8, 5 litre engine. It chugs at least twice as much fuel as my regular old Lancer - and it can only take 98 while my Lancer can take E10! Driving this car very, very expensive.

          Spare parts are ridiculously expensive too. So is insurance but I managed to get it cheaper by limiting the amount of kms I drive.

          I pay $850 a year to register my Lancer. Add another couple of hundred for basic servicing. That's still a fraction of what it would cost me to drive the Mustang everyday. So keeping the Lancer as a second car is actually a lot cheaper on my case. I could save $1000 a year by not registering it but I would lose that money easily in fuel and repairs for the Mustang.

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