Hooniverse Asks: What’s Your Worst Car Wash Experience Story?

car wash
I saw a video the other day of a family inside a drive-through car wash where the sunroof started leaking in during the rinse cycle. I don’t mean dripping in, I mean biblical flood get the animals on the boat leaking. That got me to thinking abut the mishap I once had at a car wash where one of the guys vacuuming out the interior accidentally vacuumed up one the free-floating pads inside one of the cupholders. I know!
Have you had a similar experience, or a worse one on an occasion when you went to the car wash? Let us know all the sordid details.
Image: OverBlog

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23 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What’s Your Worst Car Wash Experience Story?”

  1. 0A5599 Avatar
    0A5599

    Expensive piece of cladding broke from the air pressure of the dryers. I got yelled at by staff when I went into the car wash to retrieve the part. Then they denied responsibility. On the way home, an even more expensive part came off on the freeway. I never did find it.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar
    GTXcellent

    preface to the story: I only use the automatic car wash in the winter, can’t recall exactly, but I think this took place in January or February where it was well below 0 degrees.
    First pre-rinse cycle, no problems. Move on to the soap cycle, almost finished and something in the large spray arm breaks. It’s done. Nothing works – not the rinse, not the dryers, nothing. So, here I am with a truck covered in suds, in the only car wash in town and it’s well below freezing. There wasn’t anything I could do, but drive home with a soapy truck. Thankfully I have a heated garage so I was able to wipe off the soap after it thawed out. The guys who own the car wash are good guys, were very apologetic and gave me a few free washes after that, so no real harm.

  3. dukeisduke Avatar
    dukeisduke

    I rarely wah my Tacoma, but it’s usually in an automatic wash. I always get out and unscrew the antenna mast and put it in the truck. My wife? She relies on one of the employees to unscrew it on the Sienna. One time, they forgot, and the plastic grommet part of the antenna got mount got destroyed, which allows the mount to wobble a little bit. It’s not a problem for reception except for AM, and that’s when the van is moving, and the metal part of the mount grounds against the hole in the fender, and makes it staticky.
    I have a grommet on order (about $20), and a new mast (about $30), as the mast is kinda tweaked. The mast is a press fit in the nut that threads into the mount, and one time I had to push the mast back in and squash the nut a little bit, with my bench vise. The fun part will be taking off the right front fender, so I can replace the grommet.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar
    smalleyxb122

    When I was 17, I taught myself that ignition components don’t like pressure washers. The car wash was close enough to home that I walked home and by the time my roommate gave me a ride back to the car wash, it had dried enough to fire up on 2 or 3 cylinders, which was enough to limp it home.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar
      dukeisduke

      I always seemed to have trouble after cleaning an engine at the car wash, which is probably why I didn’t do it that often.

  5. engineerd Avatar
    engineerd

    I forgot to take a Who Rescued Who paw print magnet off the wife’s car. It didn’t survive. I bought her a new one.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar
      dukeisduke

      At the car wash we use, they have a steel “podium” used by the attendant that takes your cash/cards, and it has tons of lost magnets stuck to it.

  6. dukeisduke Avatar
    dukeisduke

    I always have to remember to take the rubber bed mat out of my Tacoma, and roll it up, before going through the wash. The first time, I forgot, and the thing did a magic carpet act when going through the dryer, then flew out, landing at the end of the wash. I had to run back in and pick it up.

  7. Alff Avatar
    Alff

    Radio antenna broke off my Audi 5000. Amazingly, the car wash picked up the tab for a replacement.

  8. Citric Avatar
    Citric

    I know someone who was behind a guy in an automatic car wash, and he was frustrated that the wash wasn’t starting, so frustrated that he got out of the car and left the door open, right when the wash started. So he wins.

    1. JayP Avatar
      JayP

  9. ptschett Avatar
    ptschett

    About 3 weeks after buying a wash code I finally had a chance to use it. I got to the terminal and entered it – the terminal said the code was already used. I’m still convinced that someone else mis-keyed their code and got mine instead, but I wasn’t able to convince the clerk.
    Same station, a few years later: I bought a wash code at the gas pump, drove over to the wash and waited in line for 10-15 minutes in the lane I’d picked. When the car immediately in front of me got into the wash, I entered my code as the automatic spray arm started going around their car… then the wash shut itself down for maintenance and ate my code. This time the clerk did give me a new code.
    Also the same station, a co-worker’s car got hit by the automatic wash arm hard enough to put a gouge in the paint.
    I don’t buy gas or car washes there anymore…(it doesn’t help that this place is ridiculously busy on weekends, vs. a station 6 blocks away which has a better wash for less $$ and less of a line…)

  10. 0A5599 Avatar
    0A5599

    A high school friend was being chased by a police helicopter. He drove his car into a gas station car wash to hide. He was quickly surrounded by police cars.
    He ended up with a lecture, no handcuffs.

    1. E34Less Avatar
      E34Less

      Was this right after Need For Speed Most Wanted came out? That was a legitimate strategy in the game. Also, we need the whole story now, do tell!

    2. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      Yeah, I think we need to hear more of what led to the helicopter chase!

    3. outback_ute Avatar
      outback_ute

      Was this in the original Gone in 60 Seconds movie?

  11. The Real Number_Six Avatar
    The Real Number_Six

    My sister called me in fits laughing one day: she’d been out shopping and seen some guy drive into an automatic car wash with a Thule box on the roof rack of his car. Hilarity ensued as the Thule was chewed up and the racks ripped off the roof of the car. Next day I meet two directors at my company for coffee. One of them tells me with schadenfreudian glee, “you won’t believe what [redacted] did yesterday – the idiot drove into a car wash with his top box attached. Car wash ate the box and tore the shit out of the roof of his car!”

  12. CruisinTime Avatar
    CruisinTime

    1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket

    1. CruisinTime Avatar
      CruisinTime

      Unrelated contribution.

      1. Alff Avatar
        Alff

        Car wash, not golden shower. This isn’t that kind of site.

  13. gord Avatar
    gord

    friend of mine, 1980 tercel, goes in, washer system is TOO powerful, watching the spinning washer wheels come at him… he sees his trim torn off on his front fenders, then the antenna is torn off, then it climbs up the windshield and the roof starts to buckle in on him… he is screaming now… fortuneatly it is a small car … gets to the end and he is yelling at the attendents who are just standing around as if nothing happened…

  14. Guest Avatar
    Guest

    I have never actually been inside a traditional car wash.

    I live on a farm, and have had a pressure washer at home for as long as I can remember. It may not be the easiest on the finish, but it sure is cheap!

  15. karonetwentyc Avatar
    karonetwentyc

    In one visit and on the same car, a car wash:
    – Broke the mounting tabs for a door sill kickplate, knocking it off of the door sill, then tossed it onto the parcel shelf (where I noticed it sitting from through the rear windscreen)
    – Bent a piece of interior trim attached to the passenger rear door, leaving it sticking into the cabin at a 90-degree angle from the door card it should have been attached to (I noticed this while retrieving the kickplate)
    – Pulled the mad mouse component for an automatic seatbelt out of its track, jamming it in place, and requiring $400 worth of repairs (I still can’t figure this one out since I had unclipped the shoulder belts from the mad mice when I brought the car in specifically to prevent this sort of thing from happening)
    Naturally, the management at the car wash verbally denied all responsibility – yet still gave me a signed pre-printed form detailing that they repaired the trim damage (with superglue, I might add) and acknowledging that the seat belt was damaged while in their care. In the meantime, I was out of pocket on actual repairs to the damage which I had to subsequently undertake. The damage in total turned out to be in the $600 range, so we’re not exactly talking huge numbers here – and all that I really cared about was that they reimbursed me for the repairs that I had to send the car out for.
    After four weeks of nobody at the car wash bothering to return my calls or letters (surprise), I eventually ended up filing against them in small claims court. This was a giant pain in and of itself as the owners had tried really hard to hide their home address; tracking them down took no small amount of effort.
    A few days after they had been served with notice to appear in court, I received a call from a lawyer who claimed to be representing them. He left a voicemail message stating that it would be in my best interest to drop the legal challenge because that was the only way we’d – maybe – be able to resolve this. I then got in touch with my lawyer, who fired off a letter to him stating that we’d be more than happy to settle prior to the court date, but would not be requesting a cancellation of the hearing unless a contractually-agreed-upon settlement was reached before the scheduled hearing. My lawyer also stated that all incurred expenses (including his fees) were now being added to the claim amount, and that this trend could be expected to continue.
    Time passes. A week or so later, my lawyer receives a preliminary settlement contract. After some back-and-forth with the other lawyer, we have something that everyone finds acceptable. It’s signed, the court date is cancelled, and everyone goes away if not happy at least pleased to be putting an end to this: it’s been a ridiculous amount of work over what is ultimately a very small matter.
    A few days later, I receive a cheque in the mail from the attorney’s office representing the car wash. I drive over to my bank, deposit it in the ATM, and go away. At this point, everything should be over, but it isn’t: later that day, I receive a call from my bank. Apparently, the cheque that I deposited bounced – not for insufficient funds, but because a stop payment order had been issued against it.
    I explain the situation to my bank, request that they send written confirmation of this to me (which they did), and get on the phone to my lawyer. He laughs, asks me if I’m surprised by any of this, and when I reply in the negative, he asks me to bring him the letter from my bank as soon as it arrives; he’ll work on a few things on my behalf in the interim.
    A couple of days later, I’m at his office handing over the letter. I ask him what the game plan is from here on out; he just tells me not to worry and that he’ll let me know once it’s all happened in the next week or so. The curiosity’s killing me, but he’s good at what he does, so I let him have at it.
    Early in the following week, I receive a call from him: the lawyer representing the car wash has been arrested at his offices for cheque fraud and is now also facing civil charges for breach of contract. The owner of the car wash has also been arrested, and, apparently, the lawyer (who was dumb enough to admit this while in custody after his arrest) was acting on her instructions when he put the stop on the settlement cheque that his offices had issued. Oh, and the lawyer’s conduct has now also been referred to the State bar association, who generally take a dim view of their members engaging in this sort of behaviour.
    To this day I have no idea how my lawyer managed to pull all of this together on such unbelieveably short notice, but I’ll just say that I remain impressed. Very impressed.
    The next day, the son of the owner of the car wash stops by my lawyer’s office on his way back from bailing his mother out of jail. He writes two personal cheques: one to my lawyer for his time and effort in dealing with the matter, and another to me for mine plus the repairs to the car. Acting as agent for the owner of the car wash, he signs a statement of release and it’s over – his cheques clear the next day and we’re all done.
    A few weeks later, I received a call from my lawyer: apparently, both the car wash owner and her attorney were being charged with cheque fraud, and the lawyer was probably going to be facing disbarment proceedings over his conduct. $600 worth of damage that the car wash refused to accept responsibility for was going to leave two people with a criminal record, one unable to practice law in his state of residence, and at a financial cost to them of nearly $7000 by the time that a settlement was actually reached.

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