ABC57 Investigates: Car washes — are you getting your money’s worth?
ABC57’s Karla Rodriguez visited Michiana’s most popular car washes to determine whether or not you are getting your money’s worth.
We drove an unmarked ABC57 car through the car washes at Drive and Shine, Parkwood Auto Spa and Mike’s Car Wash. We went through them each time with metal sheets underneath the car coated with dirt, mud and salt.
And we also filmed each wash.
What did we learn? That price does not necessarily correlate to quality.
Each car wash offers a variety of services — spray on wax, wheel-bright and, most importantly, the under-body wash.
The cost of a wash varied at each of the three businesses.
Parkwood Auto Spa offers a regular wash at $8 and an ultimate wash at $12. The basic wash at Mike’s Car Wash is $9 versus their $20 ultimate wash. And Drive and Shine has a $9 basic wash and a $25 “Ruby” wash.
We purchased each business’s cheapest and most expensive washes with the cameras rolling. When we were done, we took off the detachable metal plates and studied the results.
We found that Drive and Shine – which offered the most expensive option – performed the worst. The video showed that the side sprays used to clean under the vehicle were failing to hit the metal sheet.
Coming in second place was Mike’s Car Wash. In the video, you can see that the sprayers in the ultimate wash are hitting the metal sheet and the mud and salt are coming off it. However, a good amount of it remained.
And finally, the Parkwood Auto Spa – the cheapest of the three options – turned out to be the most effective.
The video shows that the sprayers at the Parkwood wash applied the most pressure and washed off the most dirt and salt.
Each business owner was shown the results – and each one offered their reaction.
“There’s always improvements we can make,” Jeff Guess said, the District Manager of Drive and Shine. “We’re going to see what we can do to look at the under-body. Make sure the nozzles are operating at the highest output basically at the efficiency that they can operate at. We’ll have to make sure that the chemical balance always set.”
Mike’s Car Wash said that they emphasize timing.
“When you’re going through an automated car wash, you only have some much time to spray underneath the car,” Ron Russell said, the Area Director for Mike’s Car Wash Northern Indiana. “The high pressure wash and rinse will really flush out that sand, salt that’s caked up in there. The oils and everything like that you may need a heavier de-greaser or something like that and give it some dwell time to be removed off the vehicle.”
And Parkwood Auto, after outperforming the other businesses, said that consistency is key.
“This comes down to two things,” Dave Nufer said, the Owner of Parkwood Auto Spa. “Prepping the car and the speed of the conveyor — what we do at Parkwood Auto Spa, is that we do not increase the speed of our conveyor — our speed is the same month after month. There are some people that speed the conveyor up, thus they can wash more cars in a particular day, we don’t do that.”
Although we graded the performances of each car wash – there was no real scientific approach to our investigation. We judged each wash based on what could be seen.
Each business said that if you are unsatisfied with your wash, they will offer you another one for free.