Do You Enjoy Washing Your Car?

I woke up unusually early this morning, and went for a little bike ride. I figured I’d breeze past the Fido store to inquire about timelines and waiting lists for getting an iPhone. To add a tiny complaint to the monumental PR fiasco that the iPhone Canada build-up and launch has been, Fido’s website shows the wrong operating hours for their Yates St. store.

When I got home, one of our neighbours was out in the back lane washing his fancy BMW. It occurred to me–not for the first time–that if you can afford a Beemer, you can afford to pay somebody else to wash it.

When we owned a car–a cheesy little Chevy Metro–we lived in an apartment. We (too rarely) took our car to the car wash because there wasn’t really an alternative.

So, I can think of only two reasons why my neighbour manually washes his own car:

  • He doesn’t trust any of the local car washes. This seems implausible, because there are plenty of high-end detailing and car wash places around.
  • He enjoys the process of washing his car. I can’t imagine why–I’ve always found it a loathsome task–but I may be in the minority.
  • So, pray tell, do you like washing your car?


    1. I don’t enjoy washing my car by hand, nor do I trust the gas station pull-you-through car washes (I once had one rip a plastic piece off my car), nor am I willing to fork out big bucks for the expensive car detailing services. The only alternative I’ve found for a strictly functional and inexpensive car wash is a drive up, coin-operated manual wand wash. It’s quick, cheap and easy.

      All that being said, we live in a townhouse complex where many of our neighbours seem to enjoy manually washing their cars. So much so that it can be hard to find a free driving lane on a hot Saturday afternoon. One neighbour ‘manually’ washes his car at least 3 times a week!

    2. I am one who like to wash my car as little as possible. I usually get out there once or twice a year. The way it has been raining around here (Southern Ontario) I wonder if my car even needs to be washed. I think next to washing it by hand I would have to concur with Matt T and say the coin operated hand wash way is best for me. Our old car dealer used to have a car wash service that they would do for free when the car was in for service. I liked that idea, less work for me.

    3. I enjoy it, though my parking spot under the pines makes it largely pointless. Taking a broader view, there’s obviously a market in people who like to wash (wax, polish, buff, hone, …) their cars, as evidenced by the success of this company:

      (Yes, they’re successful. They’ve been around for years.)

      Further proof that you can make a business by staking out the high end of any leisure activity.

    4. It’s kind of presumptious to say “if he can afford x, he can afford y”

      BMW’s are not *that* expensive. you can lease a new one for $13/day… $330ish per month.

      Yes, a little bit of a premium, but not enough to stick them on a gold plated pedestal.

      When I had BMW back in the early part of the century ;), a girl at work had a 02 VW that was worth more than my 99 Beemer.

      Go figure.

    5. I don’t enjoy it, but I do it because I don’t want to drive somewhere, to queue to wash my car.

      My sister loves washing cars. She can’t explain why but she’s even put thought into opening a valeting business because she loves it that much.

    6. I do not enjoy washing my car. Anyone who’s seen my car has probably figured that one out! Lots of men seem to get fulfillment from manually washing their cars though. I just don’t get it.

    7. bz: Fair point. I’ve never bought or leased a new car, so I have zero sense of the economics. In fact, I wanted to search for the average price of a new BMW. I’m sure there’s an authoritative car pricing site, but I have no idea what it is. That’s how ignorant of this topic I am.

      John: I think the queue is mostly an Irish problem. Plenty of times I’d drive up to a car wash in Vancouver and not have to wait more than one car. All the queues in Ireland were longer than in Canada. I guess it’s population density, or fewer retail outlets per capita?

    8. I like washing cars. Something about the combination of being out in the sun with a warm bucket of water (with Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo in it) and a huge sponge, plus getting your feel all cold and wet from the hose…it’s heaven.

    9. I apologize for hijacking the thread, but can anyone recommend a downtown Vancouver detailing service for my 9-year-old Honda Civic? I just want the interior cleaned and the outside given a good wash. I recognize that this sounds stupid for an old Civic, but I have decided that putting on roof racks and forking over cash for occasional detailing is preferable to me upgrading to a minivan.

    10. Andrea, you should try “Yaletown Auto Spa”. It is located between the “Space building” and the Convenant House on Seymour between Drake and Davie. You can get to it, by going in the back alley. We live in the Space building and at least once a year, just drop off our car and they wash and valet it, usually in less than an hour, for $20. That’s the basic package. They have a fancier one, but I’ve never tried it. They are pretty good.

    11. Can’t say as I enjoy it but I have a 2 month old vehicle so my friends expect it to be shiny all the time. So I do a combination of washing it myself and goto the automatic washing place. I know I am lazy and should wash it myself

    12. My kids enjoy washing our car from time to time in the summer, and I have on occasion done a relatively thorough job with vacuuming and trash-removal as well as washing (with two preteens, the inside of the car accumulates a lot of crap).

      But no, I don’t enjoy it, and most of the time we just use the local Esso touchless wash, which the kids also enjoy riding through, does a decent job, and only takes three or four minutes. Plus they have wacky multicoloured foam soap and a big, big dryer at the end.

    13. Like bz said above, BMWs aren’t really that expensive in the grand scheme of things. My brother is by no means a rich man, but he drives around in a BMW. He washes his own car on a regular basis, because he doesn’t trust the goofs at the local car wash and he’s not about to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-end place every couple of weeks or whatever.

      When my car was still new, I washed it religiously. Now that it’s not so new anymore, I seem to let it slide more often than not.

    14. Your neighbour can afford a BMW because he washes his own car.

      Depending on the age and the type of BMW, it may have a rather high look/price ratio. Check out the used-car values on a BMW 850, a car that once sold for six figures, and now sells for less than a Honda Fit.

      Detailing shops are sufficiently expensive that I would just as soon wash my own. Even a typical automatic car wash is up to $8 or more now, and if there’s any line-up the time saving can be minimal or negative.

    15. I do happen to like washing my car, especially on hot days like these.

      But it’s easier said than done; my building has no wash bay, (no hose to speak of) and there seems to be no place in the city when I can use a hose (or coin operated sprayer) to do it myself. So instead I’m forced to go to a gas station automatic one (the lines, by the way, can be excruciatingly long here too) or pay for a hand wash, where the wait is even longer. Is there a DIY car wash in Vancouver?

    16. +1 to Ryan Cousineau. My BMW is so old it’s past simply looking out-of-date and is starting to look classic (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I wash it myself because that way I find stone chips, scratches etc before they turn into big blisters of rust.

    Comments are closed.

    %d bloggers like this: