Where can I wash my convertible?
July 12, 2008 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Where can I wash my convertible? I bought a '92 Infiniti M30 convertible recently. The original soft top (plastic window) is on it. I live in an apartment building, and can't wash my own car, except at a wash-it-yourself place, which is kinda far from my house. That said, there are tons of car washes here in LA at all levels of automation. Can I bring my car to a traditional carwash? The kind that drop the soap on the car from on top but they wash it with towels? What about the automated kind? I've never owned a convertible, I need some guidelines.
posted by YoungAmerican to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That's a nice car. I've seen the photo on MaxFun. :)

I don't know about a specific place in LA, but don't take a convertible to an automated car wash. I had a Saab 900 convertible. The top was in great shape and properly secured, but the one time I took it to an automated wash (against advice and my better judgment) I spent a long time getting water out of the car. A convertible top is meant to keep normal rainwater out, not the horizontally streaming pressurized hurricane-like deluge presented by an automated car wash.

So, I always went to a self-service stall. My method was to use the pressure wand on the top, but only from above, keeping the stream flowing down, not horizontal. (I hope that makes sense.) I generally did not use soap on the top; just the rinsing water from the wand was enough unless I had to take care of some bird poop. Then I would use the foaming brush on the glass, then the soapy pressure want and foaming brush on the body. Then I rinse it all off with the clear water pressure wand, again being careful to keep high pressure away from the top and especially the rear glass. I brought plenty of my own towels to dry the glass and body, but let the top air dry on a 10 minute ride down the highway. Trying to towel-dry the top will result in a bad case of the fuzzies. Don't put the top down until it's thoroughly dry. Hand wax as needed.

Have fun with it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2008

There's a full hand-wash on Melrose, a couple blocks east of Fairfax -- I think it's on Genessee or Spaulding & Melrose -- and they do a really great job at a fair price, and there's no automated anything involved. They wash, soap, and rinse all by hand. A couple weeks ago I took my car to one of those conveyer belt places like you describe, where the automated parts just apply the soap and water and the guys do the actual washing, and I found it to be about the most disappointing car wash I've received since I started going to that other place. And it was $3 more. Never again.
posted by incessant at 12:29 PM on July 12, 2008

Are you sure there aren't any wash it yourself places near you? It seems like they're all over the city. Off of the top of my head I can think of one in WeHo, one in K-town and one in Silver Lake.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:53 PM on July 12, 2008

I hate when my answers are like this, and they so frequently are, but I can't help it. I've had a couple convertibles, and I took them to regular car washes.

The automatic "touch-free" kind were no problem at all.

The automatic kind that have things roll over the top of your car: the attendants flip a switch so that the thing does *not* roll over the top of your car. So the only problem here would be if the attendant were asleep at the switch.

They leaked the tiniest bit, and my cars were 70s and 80s models. The convertibles I've been in since then seem to have much better seals. But I guess according to Fuzzy Skinner, different cars may vary.
posted by iguanapolitico at 2:10 PM on July 12, 2008

But I guess according to Fuzzy Skinner, different cars may vary.

I'm sure that's true. It also depends on the exact type of car wash, of course.

In the case of my Saab, the main point of entry was the area around the rear window. It's a glass window, properly installed, but horizontal pressurized water easily got between the layers of canvas and into the area behind the back seat. Your rear window may be different, of course.

I also read some sources that recommended against repeated use of automated car washes that use rotating cloth or brushes. Repeated use may accelerate wear on the canvas. Just a "thing I heard," which seems to be logical, but take it in that light.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:55 PM on July 12, 2008

The original soft top (plastic window) is on it.

This isn't going to help your car-washing problems, but Meguiars #17 followed by #10 will make your rear window look brand new again. The stuff is positively miraculous.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:22 AM on July 13, 2008

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