Your Dirty Questions Answered at The Car Wash Show 2017

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
your dirty questions answered at the car wash show 2017

Some trade shows embrace the purist of missions, refraining from creating pointless content in hopes of mindless media coverage. The Car Wash Show caters to professionals in the car-care business with nary a sensationalist notion and not an autoblogger in sight on the show floor. This show isn’t about clicks, reach or engagement.

Which was precisely why I attended, embedded with my Mumbai-based cousin in the trade to learn more.

Not that the show was all business. There were several vehicles pointlessly getting “washed” by dry brushes to garner attention.

From those tacky POS baubles and accessories to the coolest tech for automated car washes, everything a car wash or quick lube (or both) owner needs was at the show. I saw big vendors known around the world, met little guys (mostly from the U.S. and China) obviously hungry for business, and plenty in between. How many ways can you dress up an editorial about a trade show without resorting to SEMA-like cliches?

To wit, I will answer The Best and Brightest’s queries:

Jeff Waingrow: Why is it necessary, in automated car washes, to put an utterly disgusting smelling “perfume” in the soap that is sprayed onto the vehicle? My cars and garage reek from it for days. Does anyone actually like this?

SM: This was, ironically, the item my cousin wanted to import to his Mumbai operation. And there were at least 10 vendors devoting large amounts of their booth to this, as people want their car to smell like something better than a used, dirty car. So yes, people love it and it’s both a personal and a cultural preference.

Zoomzoomfan: Will there ever be a car wash (with brushes) that doesn’t scratch a vehicle’s paint all to hell?

SM: Until mankind designs a way to touch something with zero friction, I recommend you stick to touch-less machines. Or [s]scratch[/s] wash it yourself.

FormerFF: What product do they have/recommend for application to plastic headlight covers to prevent them from getting cloudy?

SM: I only found products to “restore” headlights, from packages with two stages (a liquid abrasive and a glaze/sealer) to full-on orbital power tools with sanding pads. For what it’s worth, I’m happy with doing a semi-annual wax (polymer-based) to the headlights when I do the body.

Mikey: Is waxing still necessary with the modern clear coat? What product can I use to beautify and help preserve the “leather” areas of the interior?

SM: This was a trade show for people making money off your queries, but the lessons learned there apply to you: Yes, waxing is still necessary and there’s a whole cottage industry of chemists telling you which product is best for your clear coat.

Surprisingly, there was little in the way of leather conditioners at the show, but again, there are many blends that do the same thing. I’ve used everything from Obenauf’s to the free lotions you get at hotels. The free stuff’s conditioning power doesn’t last as long, but hey, it’s free.

Corey Lewis: What brand of interior cleaning products do the owners of these companies use, assuming they still sometimes clean their own cars?

SM: If you think these guys won’t give the ultimate endorsement of their own company, I have some prime beachfront real estate in Wyoming I’d like to show you.

Lolcopterpilot: Whatever happened to the Mr. Clean autodry filters? Is there any plan for the company to sell filters again? I haven’t been able to find a similar, easy method to use filtered water to avoid water spots after washing my car.

SM: I asked a few people; nobody knew. Not surprised, as this is a personal use tool: Google told me Proctor and Gamble is Mr. Clean’s parent company. It’s no surprise P&G isn’t retailing a somewhat not-disposable product (doesn’t seem to fit their business model), but it still makes the bits you need: Amazon sells the filters.

Jammyjo: Is there any alternative to the rail-and-rack system that draws cars through the wash? Damage to alloys with low profile tires is what keeps me from ever using automated washes.

SM: Yup, STI Conveyor Systems had its products moving at a pleasant clip throughout the show. It was both impressive and reassuring to see the car wash industry utilizing the latest technology. Here’s a photo:

Here are more shots from the 2017 Car Wash Show:

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2 of 16 comments
  • Zoomzoomfan Zoomzoomfan on May 15, 2017

    I use the touchless wash during the winter just to get the majority of the salt and crud off the car, but I try to wash it myself during the spring and summer. Have to get up at the ass crack of dawn to beat the brutal Kentucky heat and humidity, though. Good answer to my question. "Until mankind designs a way to touch something without friction..." HA.

  • AJ AJ on May 15, 2017

    Mr. Clean’s filters were great! I have one new on in my garage yet, but the sprayer being plastic fell and broke. I didn't use their soap, just the filter as it did a great job with the hard water that I have. When they stopped making them, I went to just using them before I would wax (Zaino actually) a car... well before I broke the sprayer.

  • KOKing Actually a place called Sector111 in Temecula, CA was importing them for sale in the US starting around 2012. A friend had a shop right next door, and I recall seeing the very first one the owner imported for himself, and would bring it out to promote at various local events. Also shows this thing's been around for a while.
  • KevinB A $300 fine for me would be an "ouch". For someone else it may mean the electric bill doesn't get paid and there won't be enough gas to get to work.
  • Ajla I think a few of you guys need to try meditation or something.
  • SCE to AUX Historically, the Land Cruiser sold ~3000 units annually in the US for its last 15 years, so the answer is no.
  • Theflyersfan Oh boy - the sequential manual transmission. Otherwise known as "Your 16 year old driving stick the first time is smoother" transmission. I know automakers were trying new things out around this time and seeing what would stick (hint: the dual clutches won out), but even in testing, the Toyota engineers should have said いいえ、ジャンクです。(No. It's a piece of junk.) Is this seller going to get $8500? Doubt it. Way too much interior work is needed and it just looks worn out in there. St. Petersburg - salt air year round can do some wonders under the cover as well. But the exterior still looks good which makes me thing it was garage kept. So, for $8,500 - no chance. But for maybe $5,500 to $6,000 and the buyer doesn't mind some extra work to clean up the interior, maybe a decent top down sun down fun car. Just hope the transmission holds up.