You better get out the owner’s manual before driving into an automatic car wash with your new car. Advanced technology and safety features can make it difficult, if not impossible, to send the car through by itself, according to BestRide. Being prepared ahead of time can save you the embarrassment of searching through the manual while the car wash attendants wait.
Autonomous safety features designed to protect passengers and vehicles may be on by default and need to be turned off before entering an automatic car wash. For example, auto-hold, a feature on some newer cars that keeps cars from rolling when the transmission is left in drive, park, or neutral, needs to be disabled or the car wash rollers will not be able to move the vehicle.
In a 2017 Kia Cadenza BestRide used for a demonstration video, all it took to disable auto-hold is pressing a console button and tapping the brake pedal. According to BestRide, however, the same process requires five steps through menus to turn off Pilot Assist Auto-Hold Braking with a 2017 Volvo XC90 — steps explained deep in the owner’s manual on page 536. The BMW 7 Series manual, according to BestRide, has a section titled, “Before driving into a car wash” on page 73 that refers you to page 242 then to page 77 and finally to 242 to finish the process. Imagine frantically flipping through the manual with five cars behind you and impatient, or worse, smirking car attendants.
As cars in lower price levels increasingly gain autonomous features, more drivers are likely to face the car wash conundrum. The International Car Wash Association has a list of Special Needs Vehicles. BestRides has compiled steps for an alphabetized list of 33 vehicle makes and models from Acura to Volvo and what needs to be done to get them in and out of automated car washes.