1. Scope out the territory to find one with the car bays and spray nozzles.
2. Drive into an empty bay centering the car away from walls. Give enough berth so that you can walk all the way around the car and still hold the spray wand. The wand is on a boom and will swivel with you where you go.
3. Determine the cost of the wash. If writing is obscured or sketchy, go check another bay because they will likely be all the same price. Machines usually take quarters. New ones take a charge card, too.
4. Locate the change machine in order to get the right amount of quarters or bring your own. You may need from $2.00 to $5.00 for an entire clean.
5. Determine which direction the dial points to start. There are 4 or 5 stages of a car wash:
- Pre-soak (to get initial gunk off and start the soak and loosen the road film).
- Wash (where suds come out).
- Foam Brush (Using the scrub wand).
- Rinse (to get the soap off).
- Wax (which is a light coating to make your car shiny or at least to help it shed dust and dirt for next time).
6. Be ready to move fast. Car washes are timed for your dime. Take floor mats out of the car and set them against the wall to be sprayed as you walk around.
7. Turn the dial to the pre-soak cycle if the car is heavily caked with dirt; otherwise, put the dial on soap or wash and put the appropriate amount of quarters in the slots. Give it a second and the machine will start to run.
8. Point the tip away from you and press whatever looks like a handle or trigger.
9. Quickly walk around the car blasting the first round of dirt off your car. One circuit should do it. Remember to hit the floor mats as you go around.
10. Rinse off the foamy brush with the high pressure nozzle before you activate the foam brush. Grit, sand, and mud could be lurking in the brush from previous washes, and can scratch your finish.
11. Turn the dial to the Wash cycle and the suds should start coming out momentarily. This is where it is good to have a rag or other cloth to wipe after the suds. Maybe have a friend to help scrub as you spray. Hit the floor mats with suds if you want, too.
- If you usually take longer than one full cycle, let the time run out while you’re on the foamy brush stage so you can get good scrubbing time in well after it actually stops dispensing the foam. This period also lets you see the spots you missed as the soap dissipates, and you won’t be in a hurry, since the time has already run out. Just make sure to not let the foam sit long enough on the car to develop into a film. Pass over the car repeatedly to keep the surface moist while you scrub.
12. Turn the dial to the Rinse position and start rinsing the soap. If you go quickly, the suds will not have had time to dry a film. If there is some drying, just wipe it again and rinse, then do not touch that spot again with the rag. Don’t forget the floor mats.
13. Jump to the selection area and turn the dial to wax and do a loop around your car to use up those last few minutes. Do not wax the floor mats.
14. Drive out of the bay and go to the area where you can vacuum the inside and throw away trash that has been accumulating in the seats.