How To Go Through a Car Wash

I’ve made no secret of my driving pet peeves.


But one of the things I find most difficult about operating a motor vehicle is the car wash. In fact, at times I find it down right scary.

It starts with the Herculean task of lining my driver’s side wheels up with the tiny track line that leads into the car wash cave. I carefully watch the attendant for direction—he waves me a little to the left, to the right, no! no! back to the left!—before I finally receive his seal of approval, a raising of his hand and a stern nod of his head.

I quickly exhale and regroup before remembering I have to put it in neutral and take my hands off the wheel and my foot of the brake . This poses dual problems for yours truly, as first I am worried that I will somehow run over the attendant as he does the initial rising off of my car.

This has never been an issue in the past, but yet I have this concern.

Once I am confident I will not be dragging said attendant under my car throughout the rest of the rinse, I am expected to believe that even though I can’t see what’s on the other side of the soapy brushes and gushing water, both me and my vehicle are safe.

Evidence would suggest otherwise, as after the initial rinse, the big red things that look like giant bottle cleaners come flying at my vehicle in all their whirling glory.

At this point I’m still doing fairly well, considering I’m in a car wash, and comforted by the fact that I like clean cars.

But then the blue things start flying at the sides of my car with such force that my external rearview mirror is shoved forward. Considering I have no control over where I’m going and can’t see through the suds anyway, this really shouldn’t be an issue. However, given my OCD, I have to resist the urge to roll down my window and pull it back into its rightful position.

I stay strong. I resist. 

At this point I’m begin to freak out a little more because now I’ve got the big red things flying at my windshield and the big blue things flying at both sides of my car and long linguini-like rags slapping at the roof. I’m convinced that I will be the exception, that they will bust right through my windshield and suffocate me in their sudsy stealth.

So despite the fact that nothing except static will come through in the car wash cave, I blast the radio as loud as I can. I think this is somehow supposed to comfort me.

It doesn’t, but planning what I will say to the news reporters who will interview me after my harrowing experience does distract me until the rinse cycle begins.

Around this time I can breathe a little easier, although now giant dryers threaten to suck me into the car wash cave vortex. But  I literally see the light at the end of the tunnel and finally exhale a bit.

I wait for the blinking red light to turn green so I can perfectly plan the switch from neutral to drive as the track shoves me off. Approximately 2.4 seconds after leaving the car wash cave, I roll down my window and adjust the mirror, with the sight of my car’s clean exterior making the $5 spent all worth while.

Until I get stuck behind a car kicking up slush at my windshield.

Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. 

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25 responses to “How To Go Through a Car Wash

  1. My daughter is petrified to go through the car was because of the loud metal bending dryers. I have to get my car washed now on days I don’t have her.

  2. I’m not so worried about that. I’m more worried about hitting the car in front of me. It hasn’t happened yet….but ONE day it might.

  3. Haha this is great. I get kinda freaked out by the drive through car washes myself. It makes me feel all discombobulated. You’re not alone!

  4. I did get stuck in one once. Got halfway in, and the power went out (what I call an “oh shit” moment). I had to BACK OUT of the wash bay – not an easy task.

    I did, however, get quite a few free-wash coupons for the stress and inconvenience.

  5. I never actually get past the lining your tires up part. I can’t do it at the vehicle emissions place or the oil change place either. I try never to go to any of these places!

  6. I got my car washed this weekend, and it was harrowing. In fact, I usually make the Hubby do it because I hate the whole lining the car up correctly and putting it in neutral at the exact right moment. I also feel like the attendants are judging the filthiness of my car. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, I’m right there with you.

  7. Never gone through a car wash and after this I’m not looking forward to the experience.

  8. Wait, wait, wait… didn’t mention that awful feeling that you are moving forward when you aren’t because all the flying brushes are moving all over your car. Motion sickness when I am not even moving–how pathetic is that!!

  9. Bwahahahaha!
    Gah! Tell me why I always get sprayed by some beheamoth in a TRUCK before my spanking-clean car is even dry . . . ?!

  10. I lease. I have no idea what this ‘car wash’ thing is that you speak of.

  11. I haven’t been in a carwash since I was a child. Too scared.

  12. You captured all the special moments….I hate car washes and drive a filthy car as a result…most of the time.

  13. You ever try counting all the suds? Real good for insanity.

  14. Sigh… We don’t have those here. Well, actually, since I don’t own a car I guess I miss out either way.

  15. I am a fan of the car wash, don’t know why but I find it relaxing.

  16. You have a $5 wash? Ours is $12… and you drive out, right into the road-grime-flinging lane of cars. May as well rip up a ten and two ones and feed them to the dog.

    I gave up and bought a bucket, haha…

  17. I make my husband take the cars in for a wash. I just don’t function well at such places. And, I figure I do everything else so it’s the least he can do, right?

  18. Oh man, I am with you! In High School my best friend and her boyfriend drove us through a car wash, me sitting in the back, when we got to the forced air dryers they both rolled down their windows and ducked down so they wouldn’t get blasted but I sure did! Scared the shit out of me! They laughed so hard, I didn’t. I have had a phobia of car washes ever since, especially the dryer part!

  19. If other drivers make you mad try throwing a raw potato at them. It’s a good way of saying, “no thank you other driver, i do not like you.”

  20. I love your writing skills, I felt like I was reading a book. You should definitely consider being an author

  21. I’m so glad I’m not the only one terrified of car washes. And 90% of the fear is just Ling up your wheels on the track. I’m not alone 🙂

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