Duval County

Send Ben: Cleaning up car wash complaints

FLORIDA — Bumpers, roof racks and antennas, just some of the things that can be damaged when you go through a car wash.

Action News Jax Ben Becker is investigating a growing number of complaints and how you can protect yourself.

“So what’s it like to have a dirty car?” asks Becker. “It’s really annoying, especially during pollen season," said Barry Amar-Hoover.

Hoover took his Toyota RAV4 to a local car wash and tells Becker his car didn’t come out the way it went in.

Amar-Hoover says the machine pushed his roof rack with such force it bent the support bars, causing $1,800 in damage.

“Generally a car wash is safe for your car?” Becker asked Andrew Jaffa, who owns a different local carwash “Yes, but it depends on the car wash.”

Jaffa tells Becker his business called CarwashU uses a special conveyor belt and brushes that help prevent common car wash damage. But, Jaffa tells Becker most car washes have warning signs that say you are responsible for damage to non-factory, non-standard, and dealer installed options like roof racks. However, car wash damage goes beyond hardware to software in newer vehicles and you might not even know about it.

This includes Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan and Honda, to Mercedes, BMW and Tesla and everything in between.

According to the International Car Wash Association survey of 245 U.S. car wash owners:

  • 79% reported damage to automatic wipers that were operating during the wash cycle.
  • 61% noted problems with “auto shift to park” transmissions.
  • 37% reported collision avoidance systems applying brakes during the wash cycle and about half the time that resulted in the bumper-embedded sensors being damaged by the cleaning brushes.

"Should there be some sort of car wash mode on cars?” Becker asked Jaffa. “Without a doubt it would make everyone life a lot easier,” said Jaffa.