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DIY or valet car wash – which is best?

By Jane Speechley - 5 November 2016 9

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With all the rain we’ve been experiencing recently, plus the warmer weather naturally leading us toward more road trips, many are facing that seasonal dilemma – what’s the best way to keep your car clean?

If you’re lucky enough to have all the equipment at home, plus the time and energy to maintain it, that’s great. However, that’s not always the most convenient option. Fortunately in Canberra, we’re a little spoilt for choice, with plenty of options for those who’d still like to get their hands dirty, as well as those who’d rather pay someone else to do it for them.

After spotting their roadside signs around town, I was tempted to check out the Hume Truck Wash (35 Tralee Street Hume, phone 0423 297 190), which opened just four months ago. Located on Tralee Street in Hume, it caters to cars as well as larger vehicles and promises an interesting point of difference – a hot water car wash.

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It turns out the (fresh, not recycled) water is heated by a combination of solar and electrical power to a comfortable 65 degrees, which not only helps dissolve the grime, it actually makes the detergents and additives more effective, while the fast evaporation saves you time in drying off as well.

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The location is a bit out of the way – it’s designed to be easily accessible for the larger trucks that make up a major part of their customer base – but it’s a nice enough drive to blow off the water afterwards, plus there’s a cafe nearby and plans to build one on-site. The ample space and brand new equipment don’t hurt the average user either, though I didn’t spot any vacuums on site, so you might need to go elsewhere for your interior clean.

Otherwise, the team knows what they’re doing and pride themselves on not wasting your time and money with unnecessary options – an average wash should cost around $10 and take about 20 mins. I went with a quick run-through of the three options that were recommended, being the high-pressure soap, quick high-pressure rinse, and clear coat (high-pressure wax) finish.

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I’m a frequent user of the regular DIY car washes around town, and I have to say, this was a superior experience. Not only does the warm water make the whole process more enjoyable (especially in cooler weather …) but the end result really does look noticeably better. I was content to scoot away without having to worry about the chamois – though you might not be if you’re feeling fussier than I was.

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Towards the other end of the scale is the well-known Waves Car Wash, with locations in Gungahlin as well as Braddon, where I went (Cnr Elouera and Lonsdale Streets Braddon, phone 02 6247 0443). I tend to visit Waves a couple of times a year, when I want a *proper* wash, inside and out – basically, a full detail.

After pulling in, I was greeted by friendly staff and chose the Extreme Valet for $55, which would take around 45 mins. Obviously, it’s a fair bit more costly and time-consuming than the DIY option, but importantly, it includes a thorough clean of the interior as well as the exterior surfaces. This Extreme option is really just missing the treatments.

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The real novelty of Waves is being able to watch from inside the glass-panelled corridor or on-site cafe as your car travels through the various stages of cleaning. I haven’t done this previously, as I’ve always taken the opportunity to run a few errands.

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So this was my first experience of settling into the cafe with a perfectly lovely cappuccino and a chocolate brownie, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi while the team did their work, and while I made them nervous by taking lots of photos.

Being on Lonsdale Street there are plenty of other food and drink options nearby – for me, I chatted with a couple of other customers (including a fellow 86 owner) and it was really very enjoyable. Digital screens on the wall let you know how your car is travelling and when it’s ready to be collected.

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It poured with rain as my car was being finished – because of COURSE it did – so the after pics aren’t as impressive. It’s worth noting that Waves offers a ‘rain guarantee’ of a free wash if it rains later the same day of your visit.

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So in this case, when it comes to DIY or valet car wash, I don’t really have anything bad to say about either option I tried. The service and quality of products on both sites was outstanding.

If you need a bit of a workout, or you just prefer to give your car the attention it deserves yourself, then a DIY wash is a great and affordable option. And if that’s your preference, then the new hot wash at Hume is definitely worth a visit.

But if you can afford to pay someone else to do the dirty work, while you spend your time working or catching up with friends, then the valet wash is a really enjoyable experience with lots of options to choose from.

Either way, you can be pretty sure it’ll rain afterwards anyway.

How do you prefer to wash your car? Any secret tips or tricks to share?

* After chatting with the team at Hume, they insisted on sponsoring my car wash (about $15); but at Waves, I insisted on paying my own way.

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
DIY or valet car wash – which is best?
1
justin heywood 10:16 am
06 Nov 16
#

Absolutely agree with the effectiveness of hot water in the DIY types.
Many of the DIY carwashes don’t use hot water (as they used to).
It’s surprising what a difference it makes.

2
justin heywood 10:18 am
06 Nov 16
#

… and how about a review of that Toyota 86?

3
Jane Speechley 8:57 pm
06 Nov 16
#

justin heywood said :

Absolutely agree with the effectiveness of hot water in the DIY types.
Many of the DIY carwashes don’t use hot water (as they used to).
It’s surprising what a difference it makes.

justin heywood said :

Absolutely agree with the effectiveness of hot water in the DIY types.
Many of the DIY carwashes don’t use hot water (as they used to).
It’s surprising what a difference it makes.

Thanks for your comment, Justin! I have to admit, I actually was a bit skeptical going in, but the difference was pretty impressive. The team there was great and really helpful too – nice little local business.

4
creative_canberran 1:53 am
07 Nov 16
#

Did you check for swirl marks after the valet wash under focused light?

5
Holden Caulfield 12:26 pm
07 Nov 16
#

I’m always loathe to use commercial car washes because I’m scared of the detergents they use. But as an apartment dweller, with nowhere suitable to wash my car by hand, I usually go to Waves Braddon, shut my eyes and hope for the best.

Although, I never let them do the inside of my car, I don’t want my interior trashed with the shiny stuff they use. I’m not mad keen on whatever they use on the wheels either, but at least they clean the wheels properly, so it’s a decent trade off.

I will check out the Hume Truck Wash though, I always prefer brushless washes if I can and the warm water may be enough to make the extra effort to get there.

6
Jane Speechley 8:09 pm
08 Nov 16
#

justin heywood said :

… and how about a review of that Toyota 86?

Sure, delighted to! (and I’ll try not to double quote you this time …)

The guy in front of me at Waves had an 86 with gull-wing doors installed – it was pretty cool …

7
Jane Speechley 8:10 pm
08 Nov 16
#

creative_canberran said :

Did you check for swirl marks after the valet wash under focused light?

I don’t want to know! … although I’ve had a good look since (not under focused lights) and it looks fine so far 🙂

8
Jane Speechley 8:12 pm
08 Nov 16
#

Holden Caulfield said :

I’m always loathe to use commercial car washes because I’m scared of the detergents they use. But as an apartment dweller, with nowhere suitable to wash my car by hand, I usually go to Waves Braddon, shut my eyes and hope for the best.

Fellow apartment dweller. Waves were pretty good for me, but you might be impressed by Hume as well – I got the impression they’re really appreciate the importance of water quality ..

9
creative_canberran 3:24 pm
14 Nov 16
#

Jane Speechley said :

creative_canberran said :

Did you check for swirl marks after the valet wash under focused light?

I don’t want to know! … although I’ve had a good look since (not under focused lights) and it looks fine so far 🙂

No worries. Avoiding that sort of stuff might be another advantage of the contactless warm water wash. Course if the valets are well trained and doing it correctly, shouldn’t get those marks either.

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