Wash & Dry

How Long Does An Automatic Car Wash Take? (Average Time)

Written by Howell Crist / Fact checked by Sam Howard

how long does an automatic car wash take

How long does an automatic car wash take? The answer varies in types of car washes. The average washer time is around 3-5 minutes to complete the car wash process. In some cases, the time is about 7-10 minutes.

As washing your car manually within 10 minutes is impossible, an automatic car wash is the quickest way to have a spick and span car effortlessly.

How Long Does an Automatic Car Wash Take

Coming to automatic car washing, you have two options: soft-touch wash and touchless wash. The care time automatic car wash differs, but the most common is 3-4 minutes. It is an ideal solution for busy people.

The automatic car wash will offer you tire shire and waxing services. You don’t need to do any tasks when parking at a gas station car wash. The specific time for each car wash selection is below:

1. Soft-Touch Wash


The soft-touch wash system is designed with foam or cloth strip spinning rollers. These rollers move back and forth constantly to wipe out dirt and debris from your car. The cloth trips will mop your car before the water system rinses it.

This will take 1 -2 more minutes to clean the car, so the total time for the soft-touch car wash is up to 4 minutes.

It is likely more effective than the touchless one, so it is worth waiting. The cloth rollers clean your car gently and minimize the risks of scratches.

However, if the water doesn’t rinse the dirt well, it will accumulate on windows and car paint. When the rollers run, the chance of scratches is quite high. Make sure the cloth spin rollers and your car are dust-free.

2. Touchless Wash


The touchless option doesn’t use any cloth trips, brush or bristle to clean the car. Hence, it is a zero-threat solution to your car’s paintwork and safer than the former.

The high-pressure water will rinse your car well when your car goes into the car wash bay. Then, the detergent sprays cover it thoroughly. This process will be repeated several times within 3 minutes to eliminate all dirt from the car.

Before you drive into the car wash bay, remember to close all windows and doors securely. The water cannot penetrate the inside. An automatic car wash cleans your car in a few minutes. It cannot offer an interior car wash like washing a car by hand.

Factors Affecting Car Washing Time


Types Of Car Wash Automation

You can choose the soft-touch or touchless car wash to bring your shiny car back. Each method requires a different duration to clean the car.

  • Soft-touch car wash

The soft-touch wash helps you remove various kinds of debris. In addition, the cloth strips can reach narrow areas, including rocker panels, license plates, and rear.

Your car will be cleaner compared to the latter wash. Hence, you need to spend more time waiting for it – around 4 minutes.

  • Touchless car wash

Your car will be cleaned with gentle car soap and water if you choose the touchless car wash. It is the most convenient and quickest way to wash the car – only 3 minutes.

Under high pressure, this automatic car wash can remove contaminants effortlessly.

Car Wash Structure


There are 2 kinds of structures to wash a car: in-bay and tunnel. Their speed can shorten or lengthen the washing process.

  • In-bay

If you drive into an in-bay car wash station, you must keep the car in place. A computer-controlled system will move around and produce high-pressure foam and water to clean the car.

  • Tunnel

Your car needs to move through the car washing tunnel. It is a huge and integrated system. You just need to drive your car to a fixed place, then the belt or conveyor will move the car and wash it automatically.

The washing process


The process of car washing can impact washing time. Some systems only rinse the car 2 times when starting and finishing the washing process. Meanwhile, the others rinse your car every time after applying detergents. The more steps are added, the longer time they take.

  • Car Wash Resources

To save time for automatic car wash, you should choose a wash station with more resources. For the touchless car wash, if speeding up the soap and water sprays, they will cover and rinse the car quickly.

Otherwise, the soap and water jets slow down, and you will wait longer for washing completion.

Therefore, the station with many cloth applicators around will reduce the washing duration.

  • Each Step’s Cleaning Time

The total cleaning duration includes the washing time of every step. If the system takes several seconds to cover the soap and rinse the car, the duration will be quite short. Some systems have break time between each step, the time will be longer.

How Does an Automatic Car Wash Work?

The Conveyor Belt

The automatic car wash is designed to clean different-sized cars, so the belt can suffer over 30 tons. Plus, a correlator helps the car to be placed in neutral.

Place your car on the conveyor, the rollers will move the car through the tunnel with 2 pushes: front-wheel push and rear-wheel push. The 2 sensors in the tunnel will measure the size of the car and adjust the machine properly.

The Pre-soak Jets


The system will pre-soak your car to wet it and break down dirt. Then, the soap jets apply detergent to the car thoroughly.

The Mitter Curtain

The mitter curtain is designed with long soft cloth stips and a metal frame. This component will move backward and forward to remove dirt from the decklid, hood, and roof.

Foam Spray

Many nozzles in the tunnel spray foam onto your car. You can use colored detergents to make the car noticeable. In this step, you can request to apply a car sealant to protect your car paint.

The Cloth Spinning Rollers


The 4 large spinning rollers can spin 90 times per minute. The soft brushes contain hundreds of cloth strips to eliminate debris productively. Some wrap-around washers can clean the rear and front of the car vertically.

Between the mitter curtain and spinning roller steps, nozzles will deliver wax to create a water-resistant layer. It can stay on your car for a few days.

The Water Jets

After gently scrubbing your car, 40 rinsing jets deliver 25 gallons of water per minute to rinse the foam off. Cleaning the underside of the car is an additional service. The water jets on the ground will produce water upward to clean mud and other dirt.

Rinse Arch

This step will remove residue on the car. The rinse arch will repeat 3 times during car washing. The first is after the mitter curtain. The second is after it goes through soft-touch applicators and water jets. The final rinse arch is before drying the car.

The Dryers

There are up to 8 dryers to dry your car in a wink. They can produce warm air at 190 miles/hour to get rid of almost all water.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is touch or touchless car wash better?

Soft-touch and touchless car wash has pros and cons. The latter option is good for those who don’t want to get out of the car during car washing.

Plus, if your car has a thin layer of dust, the touchless wash can clean it well. However, it cannot remove bird craps. You have to eliminate them by yourself.

The soft-touch car wash can remove most of the bird craps, but they are still a little visible. In addition, it can clean the wheels and rear effectively. But its sound is pretty aggressive. If the mirror or spoiler is loose, the brush can take them off.

How much does an automatic car wash cost?

Generally, a basic automatic car wash costs between $10 to $25, including dryers. If you choose a full service car wash, you have to pay more. The touchless car wash takes you $10-$30 to clean the car.

Although the price is reasonable, you should only apply an automatic car wash occasionally. Car paint can be affected when detergents are exposed to it too often.

How often should you wash your car?

The frequency depends on your car status, the weather where you live, car cleaning products, and more. The general rule is you should wash the car every 2 weeks if your car doesn’t have much dirt.

In case you drive the car daily, or the salt is used regularly, you can clean it more often.


How long does an automatic car wash take? Well, now you know it requires around 3-4 minutes or up to 10 minutes to wash the car. The touchless car wash has minimal impact on your vehicle, while the soft-touch wash gives you a better result.

Before entering the car wash tunnel, you must close all windows and doors to avoid splashing and reduce the decibel level you hear. Plus, if you store your car in a garage, you can wash it less frequently.

5/5 - (2 votes)

Our chief editor is Sam Howard. The vast market of car care necessitates extensive research. He entered the market, experienced the service, and reported customer feedback in order to provide the best advice and content to car owners. We have faith in him to turn our website into a reliable resource for all car owners.

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