International Carwash Association has received numerous reports of driver concern about Tesla’s recommended cleaning procedures for the Model 3 sedan. Page 135 of the owner’s manual states, “If washing in an automatic car wash, use touchless car washes only. These car washes have no parts (brushes, etc.) that touch the surfaces of Model 3. Using any other type of car wash could cause damage that is not covered by the warranty.”
This section, entitled “Cautions for Exterior Cleaning,” goes on to recommend that owners “do not use hot water or detergents” and cautions against high-pressure water. All together, these instructions leave car owners without any realistic options for car cleaning.
It should be noted that merely visiting an automatic car wash wouldn’t void an owner’s warranty—nor does it state that any other type of car wash process (manual or automatic) would necessarily be covered by warranty.
“While we applaud the innovations that Tesla brings to the automotive marketplace, they have unfortunately also created frustration for drivers when it comes to everyday tasks such as vehicle cleaning,” said International Carwash Association CEO Eric Wulf. “The Model S is already known to cause challenges for drivers to shift into neutral to accommodate conveyor car washes, and now customers are being given information that simply doesn’t work for today’s market, where 75% of vehicle owners most frequently use a professional car wash.” Both the Model S and Model 3 contain similar car wash recommendations in their owner’s manuals.
A professional car wash, whether it exclusively uses high pressure water or augments the cleaning process with wash media, is a safe option for vehicles of every type. From environmentally friendly soaps to dirt repelling foam washcloths, automatic car washes are overwhelmingly preferred by today’s customer for car cleaning. Regular cleaning is also increasingly a safety issue for vehicles that rely upon ADAS and autonomous technologies. Accordingly, ICA calls on automotive manufacturers to maintain a focus on customer demands, by offering vehicles that can regularly and safely visit automatic car washes.