Can an Electric Car Go Through a Carwash?

We’ve spent so much of our lives guarding our electronics against the ever-present threat of water that it has become second nature to us. The advent of electric cars, then, presented us with an interesting problem to consider: can electric cars cope with nature’s wetter elements?

Can an EV Go Through a Carwash?

Let’s start by dealing with the question at hand. The short answer is yes, an electric car has no problem at all going through any kind of carwash, be it a rollover carwash, a carwash tunnel, or a jet wash area. All are safe for your car.

Think About the Rain

There would be almost no market at all for the electric car if it couldn’t cope with water falling on it in large quantities. In rainy environments, of which the US and the wider world has many, owning an electric car would just be an impossibility if this was the case.

The fact is that electric cars are built with their key electronic components fully sealed and protected against whatever nature can throw at them. Besides a flash flood, tsunami or other equally devastating deluge of water hitting the car at once, no amount of water you hit it with will damage the electronics.

That doesn’t mean to say, however, that there’s nothing to think about when putting your EV through the carwash. Below we’ll elaborate on things you need to do.

Prepare Your EV for the Carwash

A car going through a car wash
A car going through a car wash

Certain qualities of your electric car mean there are certain steps you should take to make you ready both before and during the carwash starting.

Gear Shift and Parking Brake

In car wash tunnels, you should position your gear shifter to the “N” position once your car is in position. This will stop the wheels from locking, thus meaning you car can smoothly and safely move through the carwash tunnel. The parking brake needs to be off for the same reason. The carwash drag train needs to be able to pull on the car without any part seizing up or offering resistance.

If you’re using a rollover carwash or a jet washer, then the situation with the gear shift and parking brake is a bit different. With either of these types of carwash, it’s better to put the car in Park (P) and engage the parking brake.

Ignition

Another way to ensure that you car can be pulled through the tunnel carwash properly is to ensure that you keep the ignition on as you do. This will mean you’ll also have to make sure that you have enough battery power to make it through, too.

For rollover or jet wash solutions, keep the ignition turned off.

Wipers, Mirrors and Protrusions

Next, many EVs on the road are from the last 10 years or so, which means that features like automatic, rain-sensing windshield wipers are common. You should turn these off before going into the carwash. Remember that your ignition will be on, so you’ll have to disable these manually at the controls because they will otherwise activate when sensing the water hitting the windshield.

On top of that, ensure that your side mirrors are folded in. They are likely electrically powered, so you should be able to do it with the push of a button on your EV. If your car has anything other accessories on the roof such as roof rails, then it’s advisable to remove these before going through a tunnel carwash.

Doors and Windows

Finally, you’ll need to make sure that all doors and windows have been properly closed. This is likely something a regular carwash user would know anyway, since it’s true for any kind of vehicle, electric or not.

Alternatives to the Automated Carwash: Jet Wash

Jet washing a car
Jet washing a car

Above we mention two kinds of automated carwash, namely the tunnel and rollover types, but we also mentioned jet washers. The jet wash is a manual alternative to these washing methods, and you’ll certainly find them available at carwash locations and perhaps even some gas stations. You can even purchase them on Amazon for under $200 and then do the high-pressure wash at home for added convenience.

Wash Your EV Like Any Other Car

While one or two specifics are different, the washing of an electric car is fundamentally the same was washing any gasoline or other vehicle. You can use the same jet washers, the same car cleaning products, the same waxes and sealants, and more. The electric nature of the car is all internal.

There are, however, as we mentioned, some specifics to be mindful of when it comes time to jet wash your electric car.

Ignition Off and Not Plugged In

First of all, you’ll want to ensure that the ignition is switched off, but also that the car is not plugged in for charging. You might wonder why this is. If your electric car is safe to charge in the rain, why can’t we leave it charging while doing a power wash? Well, this is something of a difference in how the water is flowing.

While it’s unlikely to cause any major problems, rain is water lightly falling on the car from above, but a jet washer is a high-pressure stream of water being deliberately sprayed at the car concentrated in a specific area or location. That makes it a bad idea to have any exposed parts, including the charging point, there while you are jet washing the car.

Mind the Battery Modules

As you are jet washing the car, remember that the car’s battery pack in the majority of cases stretches across the entire length of the vehicle. It is well encased, but in the same way that you don’t blast a jet washer down the gas tank spout to clean the gas tank, don’t be blasting water directly at where your battery pack is.

Alternatives to the Automated Carwash: Hand Wash

One of the safest ways to avoid many of the issues that we have described further above is to simply conduct a humble hand washing of your electric car. As we said, it doesn’t require any special instruments. If you’ve recently made the switch to an electric car, all the same products that you used on your old car will work just as well on this one. Hand washing also means that you just have to park up as normal, and not worry about removing additional accessories like the roof rails.

Conclusion: Carwash or Not?

If you are in a hurry and not the kind of person who either wants to or is able to give time to hand washing or even jet washing the car, then go ahead and continue using the car wash. EVs are extensively tested to ensure their key electrical components are safe from water either falling from the sky or coming from other source.

Follow the tips we mention above and your carwash experience will be no difference than with your old gasoline car. In our view, however, the best option remains combining a jet wash with hand wash. A jet washer at home is more useful than you think. You can use it clean more than just your car. Use that to remove any particular caked-on or stubborn dirt, and then hand wash and wax for stunning results and a good deal of money saved.

Finally, don’t feel like a fool if you were one of the many people in the world who believed quite firmly that car washes and EVs didn’t mix. You were not alone, and it’s understandable for this kind of new technology.

About Tristan Perry

Tristan is a software developer who is passionate about eco-friendly lifestyles - and products, such as green cars! He has loved seeing Nissan and Tesla sell loads of quality EVs over the last decade - with every other car manufacturer finally following suit.

EV adoption seems to be at a tipping point now, with 'ordinary folk' starting to order them too. This is naturally aided by very expensive gas prices, but also a genuine desire for people to try and improve the environment.

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