How to Run Tesla Through An Automated Carwash? (Without Damage)

Keeping your car clean is something we should be all for, not only because cars look better when they’re clean, but because debris and road grime can deteriorate your car’s paint finish over time. Although a hand wash is obviously the best option regardless if you have an electric car or a supercar, not everyone has the time or the patience to get their own hands dirty. An automated carwash is probably the easiest option when it comes to cleaning your Tesla, but it’s not without its downsides which we’ll get to in a bit.

To run your Tesla through an automated carwash you first need to put it in neutral.  Teslas will automatically defer back to park if no one’s in the vehicle after about twenty seconds, so this only works if you’re going through an automated car wash where you’re allowed to stay inside the car. The second thing you have to do is turn the automatic wipers off, as they could potentially be damaged in the process.

To see a complete rundown of how to use an automated carwash in your Tesla without damaging it, as well as learn about potential pitfalls regarding automatic washing bays, read on.

The positive side of using an automated carwash

The main advantage is, obviously, the level of convenience they offer. You don’t have to get your own hands dirty, and in some cases, you don’t even have to get out of the car at all. The carwash does everything for you, so it’s really a case of driving there, letting the machines do their job, and driving off. It couldn’t be any easier.

1. Less Water Waste

An automated carwash has a ton of environmental benefits too. For starters, it uses less water than a hand wash since the machines are programmed to spray efficiently and effectively. It is estimated that an automated car wash uses one-quarter of the amount of water you would normally use if you wash your car at home, even if you’re being super careful not to waste any water at all.

2. Save Resources

In addition to using less water, an automated car wash produces less overall waste. When you’re washing your car at home, all of the grime and cleaning products you use end up getting absorbed in the ground and flushed down the sewers. A lot of automated carwash places use recycled water to further cut down on water consumption.

3. Save Time

There are several personal advantages to using an automated carwash too. Saving time and money is something we all want, so not having to waste an hour or more washing your car is extremely beneficial. You don’t have to buy any cleaning products or protective gear, you just turn up to your carwash of choice and leave with a clean car several minutes later.

Watch This Before Taking Your Tesla To A Car Wash

The negative side of using an automated carwash

In the past, most automated carwash systems were rough and imprecise. People often complained about getting chips and scratches from them, regardless if they drove a large SUV or a small hatchback. It’s just something you had to deal with if you wanted to use an automated car wash.

Over time things have improved, to the point where a lot of people swear by automatic car wash services, but you should still be wary of them. We’re not saying don’t use one of these services, but read up on your preferred carwash online before using it or even chat to the owners and take a look at the carwash itself.

New and modern facilities are very effective and gentle, but you can still find some older-style car washing places.

Another common disadvantage with them is that they’re a bit of a hit-and-miss when it comes to drying the car off. Because they’re built to accommodate all types of vehicles, they’re obviously bound to miss certain areas when they get to the last stage of the process, which is drying.

How do I choose an automated carwash for my Tesla?

If you’ve still decided to go ahead and use an automatic carwash, the first thing you’re going to want to do is find a decent, reputable carwash in your area. Look at online reviews if possible or scroll through photos to see what types of cars usually visit.

If you see at least a few premium or high-end cars, chances are they’re using newer machinery. People wouldn’t risk scratching their expensive cars unless they trusted the carwash.

Second, and perhaps just as importantly, you have to find a carwash where you’re allowed to sit inside the car. As we mentioned in the beginning, Tesla’s software will automatically switch the car from neutral to park if it doesn’t detect someone in the driver’s seat.

This is basically a safety mechanism, but it means you can’t let the car go through the carwash on its own.

Most people, especially Tesla enthusiasts on Tesla forums, recommend using a touch-less car wash. A touch-less carwash is a carwash with no rollers or any contact points between the car and any part of the carwash itself. It uses high-pressure jets to apply foam, clean the car, and dry it off. They’re definitely safer to use for any car, especially your shiny new Tesla.

How do I actually go through the carwash?

This applies to every Tesla; Model S, 3, X, Y:

1. Put your car in neutral

As mentioned, start by putting the car in neutral. You can do this by using the stalk, but you have to pull it down lightly and hold it there for two seconds. You should see whether you’ve been successful by whether you get confirmation that the car is in neutral on the screen.

2. Turn off automatic wipers

Most people recommend turning off the automatic windshield wipers whenever you’re using an automated carwash, just in case something comes in contact with them. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen if you’re using a touch-less carwash, but it’s still good practice to turn them off and let the carwash do its thing.

To turn the windshield wipers off, tap on the persistent wiper button on the bottom left-hand corner of the display to pull up the windshield wiper card. From here, you can tap the icon to turn them off if they’re set to auto, and you can subsequently set them back to auto once you’re done with the carwash afterwards.

3. Turn On Inside Air Circulation

Typically your Tesla will be set to bring in fresh air to the cabin, but when going through a carwash it’s a good idea to set it to re-circulate the cabin air. That way you avoid bringing in the soapy smells of the detergent and soaps that are washing your car on the outside.

To do this click the airconditioning icon and then click the circular arrow icon to make it blue.

Quick Recap

Should you use an automated carwash? If you take the necessary precaution and use a touch-less carwash service, then yes. We’d avoid using a brushed automatic carwash since you never know how the brushes have been maintained or whether the car in front got a stone stuck in them which will absolutely demolish your paint job. 

Tesla Model X Automatic Car Wash