What’s the Difference Between Soft Touch and Touch-Free Car Washes?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs, Tips and Tricks on Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 at 3:30 pm
Rear view of vehicle going through car wash

Soft Touch vs Touch-Free Car Washes

Have you ever heard horror stories about local car washes leaving scratches on vehicles and decided then and there to avoid ever going near it? Or maybe you prefer to wash your vehicle at home but would like a more convenient wash option as well. This guide is going to breakdown the pros and cons of both soft touch and touch-free car washes to help you find the wash that is right for you and your vehicle. Check out the info below before letting a friend’s horror story keep you out of your local car wash. 


Read more: Step-by-Step Instruction for Detailing the Outside of Your Car


Soft Touch Car Wash

A soft touch car wash is also commonly referred to as a cloth car wash or a friction car wash. These car washes are what most people think of when they think of a local drive-thru wash. Big swirling brushes and rainbow soap surround your vehicle as you are pulled slowly through the wash until you exit out the other side. These soft touch car washes work similarly to how one would use a washcloth to clean their arms or legs. The rotating cloth materials rub against the vehicle to lift away dirt, debris, built up pollen, bugs, road salt, and more. The friction of the cloth against the vehicle helps break down built up materials and pull them away easily. By using cloths, the car wash is able to get at many different parts of the vehicle, resulting is an all-around clean vehicle.  Circle image of vehicle going through car wash

The downside to soft touch washes is that due to the friction of their rapidly moving brushes and bristles, any loose parts of a vehicle’s exterior are at risk of becoming looser or damaged.  

Touch-Free Car Wash

Touch-free car washes are also known as brushless or touchless and they do exactly what their name says – they wash the vehicle without actually coming into contact with the vehicle. The full wash is done with chemicals and high-pressure water to blast away any dirt or soils. Built-in sensors help the water and chemicals follow along the shape of your vehicle to make sure no spots along the vehicle are missed. Because nothing besides water and soaps come into contact with the vehicle, touch-free car washes along for a wider range of vehicles to fit through them.  

While touch-free car washes reduce the chance of damage, you may notice some leftover spots on your vehicle because no cloth materials are coming into contact with your car to fully scrub away dirt and debris.  


Read more: How to Clean Coffee Spilled in Your Car


Whether you choose to go with a soft touch car wash or a touch-free option, the choice is all a matter of personal preference. We recommend checking out reviews of car washes and doing a little research on local washes to find the option that is best for you and your vehicle. Contacting the staff at the wash with additional questions is always recommended to help get the most information about what the car wash experience there is like. Are you in the market for a new vehicle? Head over to the Third Coast Autos online inventory to check out our full lineup of in-stock vehicles in Austin, TX.  

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