Electric cars are a popular choice for modern drivers because they are great for the environment and offer many cutting-edge technologies and benefits. If you own one, you may be wondering how to perform maintenance routines, like washing, on them.
Properly washing an electric car is similar to washing a traditional one. Despite running on battery-powered electricity, electric cars can be washed using the same methods that would be used on other cars. The systems that could suffer from water damage are sealed to prevent any problems.
If you’re interested in finding out how to properly wash an electric car, you should follow this easy guide to learn more about what it entails.
Here’s How to Properly Wash an Electric Car
Surveys suggest that many new electric car owners are unsure whether they can easily wash their vehicles like they would any other car. Electricity and water are known enemies, but there is no reason to worry about electric vehicles being damaged during a wash.
All vehicles that are meant to be driven on roads go through rigorous testing that includes water testing. Electric vehicles are tested for flood conditions like all other cars, and they have to pass these tests to be road-ready. This is known as the ‘soak test,’ and it involves a much higher volume of water than the vehicle would ever encounter during a wash.
The elements of electric cars that could be affected by water are the batteries, the electric motor or the powertrain, and the electric system. When the vehicle is built, special attention is paid to these elements, and they are kept safe by being sealed against any possible water leaks.
It is perfectly safe to wash an electric car with the methods you’d use on any other car. We’ll focus on preparing your electric vehicle for a wash and how to use it in car wash tunnels, jet washes, and rollovers. Let’s take a look at how to best wash your electric car with these options.
Get Your Electric Car Ready
There is very little difference between washing an electric car and a fuel-powered one, so there isn’t much to do before you proceed to do it. However, if you want to make absolutely sure that you are playing it as safe as you can and also getting the best wash for your type of car, here are some tips to follow when you go to get your vehicle cleaned:
- Charge your car: Make sure that your electric car has enough charge left to go through the cleaning process, especially if you take it through a tunnel. This will prevent delays from affecting the washing, especially as the electric motor will usually be in use during this time.
- Perform usual checks: These include folding the mirrors, removing or retracting the radio antenna, and ensuring that all windows and doors are properly secured. You should also check your trunk, especially if you have the type of electric vehicle that has one in the front too. There should be no loose bodywork or open sunroofs.
- Read the instructions: If you’re using a car wash tunnel or a washing option you’re not familiar with, always check the instructions. Bear in mind that car wash tunnels will have instructions that vary from one location to another.
Using Car Wash Tunnels
Once you’re ready to get your electric car washed, one of the most popular and practical methods to do so is to use a car wash tunnel. There’s no difference between an electric car and a traditional car when it comes to using a car wash tunnel, but make sure to take a look at the tips above before you drive into it, especially the part about having enough charge.
The best practice for car wash tunnels is to have the ignition on and the vehicle in neutral. This will keep the wheels from getting locked, which will allow the car to progress through the tunnel with ease. You should also disable the emergency brake.
Electric cars tend to have more automatic features than traditional cars, but we recommend disabling the ones you don’t need during the cleaning. These include windshield wipers, which should remain folded down while in the tunnel.
If you’re looking to get the best out of an automatic car wash tunnel for your electric car, you should also opt for newer ones. Older car washes can have different types of brushes that are more abrasive, and that can cause scratches. Newer car washes opt for microfiber and soft foam brushes that provide a deeper clean while preventing any damage.
Once you’ve made it through the tunnel, your electric car will either be dried by an attendant at the car wash or by automatic hot air jets that act as a dryer. The type of drying service provided will depend on the car wash.
If you’re looking to spruce up your electric car more after your cleaning, check what else is available at the car wash. You may have access to waxing, rust-proofing, and other add-ons that you can take advantage of while you’re on the premises.
Using Jet Washes and Rollovers
A rollover is another type of automatic car wash that is more compact and versatile than a tunnel. It also provides thorough cleaning and numerous features like:
- Wheel washing
With rollovers, the same approach applies when you’re getting an electric car through them.
You need to drive into the wash bay, leave the vehicle in neutral, and go through the rollover. Ensure that all external elements are folded or well-fixed and that there is nothing in danger of falling off the car. If you have a roof rack, we recommend removing it during the wash.
Jet washes are the typical self-service pressure washers that you can encounter at gas stations or car washes. You will use various wash guns through several stages that include applying cleaning product to the electric car and thoroughly rinsing it. Make sure that you fully remove the cleaning product before leaving, or it might affect the shine of your car.
While using the jet wash, you should also spray the entire vehicle from top to bottom while making sure to keep the hose at least one foot away from the vehicle to prevent issues with the force of the water.
Can You Run a Tesla Through an Automatic Car Wash?
While most electric vehicles and hybrids have no issues when taken through an automatic carwash, there have been suggestions that extra precautions should be taken when it comes to Tesla luxury electric vehicles.
This is due primarily to an abundance of caution influenced by the price points that Tesla sets for its range of vehicles. For that reason, if you are the owner of a Tesla electric car, it is recommended to avoid automatic car washes as much as possible, especially older ones.
Don’t worry about taking your Tesla to the car wash without knowing the location. Most older car washes will have signs up recommending Tesla owners to keep away for the sake of their car.
While it isn’t a rule that a Tesla may get scratched or otherwise damaged in an automatic car wash, it’s better to be safe than sorry with luxury cars that you’ve already spent plenty of money to get. Automatic car washes can be too hard on a Tesla’s bodywork, and it can even cause issues for the car’s many sensors that may be difficult to fix.
Tesla electric vehicles also seem to be more at risk of suffering damage from water leaking into the electric system. In particular, the charging port seems to be most affected by water damage because it can frequently not be adequately sealed to keep it safe.
Going through an automatic car wash with a Tesla could also potentially misalign the cameras that inform its forward-collision warning system, one of the main features of Tesla cars. As a general rule, it seems best at this point to avoid automatic car washes if you have a Tesla vehicle.
Handwashing your Tesla as much as possible will keep your electric car in the best condition and give you some peace of mind.
Washing an Electric Car at Home
If you’d rather wash your electric car at home, this is one of the best methods to avoid any potential damage to your vehicle during the cleaning process. It is also a very thorough method, but it can take more time and be less practical than automatic ones. However, it’s a great activity for when you have some time off.
There are several stages to a successful electric car washing done at home. We’ll walk you through the most important ones, but feel free to adapt these to your needs, your time, and the state of your car.
To get the most thorough cleaning, experts recommend a pre-wash stage that will prime the car and get rid of the worst of the grime. This stage will also remove abrasive particles that may cause scratches on the bodywork during the washing process.
A power washer is the best tool for this stage, and you should use it from the top to the bottom of the car, paying particular attention to the wheels and the arches. If a power washer is unavailable, you can use an ordinary car cleaner. Cover the vehicle in it, and let it stay on for a few moments per manufacturer instructions.
You should also apply wheel cleaner, but it’s best to do that one by one instead of on all the wheels at once, as these cleaners contain strong chemicals that can damage the tire and the frame.
When cleaning your electric car at home, you should prepare at least two buckets to help you during this process. One should include a special car detergent or cleaning solution, while the other should have clear rinsing water. If you’re looking for more help with this, some buckets are made with cleaning cars in mind and contain grit guards.
Grit guards are great for cleaning cars because they prevent the abrasive particles we mentioned earlier from scratching your car once you start washing it. The dirt and silt will sink to the bottom while you’ll be able to continue using the solution and the water without muddling the electric vehicle.
In addition to the buckets, you should also have a wash mitt in your arsenal for cleaning your electric car. This is usually recommended over a sponge because they are very gentle and prevent damage to your paintwork. If you only have a sponge, the cleaning can still go on; you just need to have more care as you go.
With the mitt or the sponge, you should rinse as you go and then do a complete rinse at the end. This is how you’ll make the most out of grit guards and how you’ll be able to keep from accidentally scratching your car with grit particles.
When you reach the drying stage, few items are as helpful as a trusty microfiber cloth. You can also take advantage of this time to clean all the windows of your electric car with a special window-cleaning spray and two cloths: one for applying, one for buffing.
What to Do In the Interior
Once you’re done with the exterior, you should pay attention to your car’s interior, which will most likely require some care. You should start with a vacuum cleaner that is both strong and easy to maneuver. It would be best for it to have a brush attachment that you could use to remove the dirt from your rugs, under your seats, and between them.
Suppose you’d like to deep clean your interior by shampooing the materials. In that case, you should select the appropriate cleaners for them and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions as they will vary significantly between them. You will find a suitable cleaner for any material, from leather to cloth.
You will see this instruction on the cleaners as well, but it’s best to do a spot test on the interior to see how well the product works and to make sure that it is the right one. If you have the time, we recommend doing this with any type of new cleaner that you might purchase.
If you have anything made of plastic in your interior, you can wash that with specific cleaning products too, but make sure to stay away from anything containing silicone as it can cause slippery and shiny surfaces.
If you notice imperfections on your electric car as you wash it, these might be caused by dirt getting encrusted into the paintwork, especially while on the road. If you’d like to make your car look like new by eliminating these imperfections, you should treat them with a clay bar made explicitly for this purpose.
If the clay bar doesn’t solve the problems and you really want to eliminate the imperfections in the paintwork, you can take your electric car to be seen by professionals. They will machine polish your car, a process that entails removing some of the car’s finish with the use of a power tool. This option should only be left to the professionals.
This is the last step in a perfect cleaning process for your electric car, and it serves a double function. Waxing your car holds both aesthetic appeal and practicality because it makes the vehicle shine while providing further protection to the exterior. It will help with preventing the type of imperfections we mentioned in the previous section too.
To achieve the best results with waxing, you should consider the weather when applying the product. It’s best to do this part of the process on a dry day that has mild temperatures. As you might suspect, wax is highly affected by heat or cold, as well as rain. These meteorological factors can have a considerable impact on the success of a wax application.
You can get many types of wax, and your choice will be influenced by what effect you want to achieve and the length you want it to have. As with any other product, you should browse or research what you want to buy, and you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the wax.
Handwashing is one of the most recommended methods of washing an electric car, so you can enjoy the reward of your labor even more despite the extra effort you have to put in to achieve the result.
If you are the owner of an electric car, there are many options to properly wash it. This straightforward guide has walked through these options while providing insight into how they work and the steps to follow. There are very few differences when it comes to cleaning electric cars versus traditional ones, so you can still use car washes and jet washes.
For the best results, and especially if you are a Tesla owner, you should spend some time hand-cleaning your electric car. This will allow you to give it the best care possible but will require more time.