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I'm a first time owner to a 2016 RAV4 SE AWD and with all of the options that come with the car, I was wondering if anyone has had any bad experiences with automatic car washes and the little cameras attached on the front and rear of the vehicle. Maybe not specifically for the 2016 year, but overall even if it's with other brands/makes. We have a lot of automatic car washes and most of them have the soft cloth brushes, but I worry that the camera attachments are fragile and the washes would eventually damage them.

I would appreciate any feedback on good/bad experiences.

Thanks in advance!
 

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I am also in the same boat though I did one automatic car wash which had soft cloth. Though I did not notice anything bad yet but don't know the impact in future. Waiting to hear from other experienced members.
 

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I take my vehicles to full service 'brushless' hand wash facilities...they use hands/sponges. They have the mechanisms to add soap and/or wax and blow dry the vehicle as it rolls by on the conventional car-wash drive chain. The vehicle is wiped of excess water by hand too.

I haven't seen a conventional car-wash around here in years.
 
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I take my vehicles to full service 'brushless' hand wash facilities...they use hands/sponges. They have the mechanisms to add soap and/or wax and blow dry the vehicle as it rolls by on the conventional car-wash drive chain. The vehicle is wiped of excess water by hand too.

I haven't seen a conventional car-wash around here in years.
This.

The problem isn't the cameras... the problem is what the brushes do to your paint.

Same for the "brush of death" at the coin-op car wash... it looks clean to you, but you didn't see the guy an hour ago using that brush to scrub mud and sand and deer blood out of the back of his pickup.

Super White? It'll survive. Anything darker, or any metallic? Stay away.
 

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This.

The problem isn't the cameras... the problem is what the brushes do to your paint.

Same for the "brush of death" at the coin-op car wash... it looks clean to you, but you didn't see the guy an hour ago using that brush to scrub mud and sand and deer blood out of the back of his pickup.

Super White? It'll survive. Anything darker, or any metallic? Stay away.
^^ what he says...
 

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Detailers call that kind of car wash a swirl-o-matic. Be it brushes or soft cloth they eventually mar the paint. I made a good living machine polishing cars that had been washed that way.
 

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Ouch! :surprise
 

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You destroyed the OCD part of me.

I wanted to close it as soon as I saw the brushes, but couldn't until after they blasted the white streak off of the windshield.
haha, I know the feeling.

I spent 8 hours polishing a black BMW Z4 for a client of mine, car was perfect when it left my place. I told him to never go to the car wash with brushes... comes back 2 weeks later asking what are all the swirls on the paint. I ask him if he had it washed? he says: only once at the dealership and once at the soft brush car wash at the corner of his street... 300$ polishing job down the drain, I felt sick to my stomach... I don't take care of his cars anymore, what's the point?!
 

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I would have polished it again.....for another $300 that is. That will break him from sucking eggs.
 

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I would have polished it again.....for another $300 that is. That will break him from sucking eggs.
paint was getting thin, and I don't like to take risks with cars worth that much... ;-)
 

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Great point. In that case it's time to sign off.
 

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The dealership told me you need to take the front license plate off (if you have one) when going through the car wash. Apparently there is some issue with the design of the plate holder and automatic car washes will routinely rip them off.

Not sure if it is true or not, but the dealership was taking them off when they washed the cars.

Some car washes might rip the front plate off or any other loosely attached part like rear wiper arms and bug deflectors, but I never had a problem in 9yrs in my 2006 Rav4 or after a dozen washes of the 2015 Rav4, I seldom wash by hand, have always used a conventional car wash, not brushless or touchless. They always tape the rear wiper arm down and confirm the bug deflector may be a problem, but never has, they've never asked or mentioned the front plate as being a problem, so I suspect that may be a problem at the particular wash that your dealer uses.
 

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I run our Rav through a typical automatic car wash once or twice a month. The brushes do catch the lower corners of the front license plate and bend them up. Otherwise, no issues. The car looks great and back up camera works fine.
 

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The dealership told me you need to take the front license plate off (if you have one) when going through the car wash. Apparently there is some issue with the design of the plate holder and automatic car washes will routinely rip them off.

Not sure if it is true or not, but the dealership was taking them off when they washed the cars.
The big flapper wheel car washes have twice bent the heck out of my license plate and metal license plate cover. Time for a new car washing plan.
 

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Just took my RAV in for a full service hand wash today. I am happy to report that everything stayed on the RAV - moonroof visor, window visors, hood deflector, wipers (no tape) and front license plate bumper protector. Hand washed by 2 guys in yellow rain-suits after a ton of white, pink and orange foam bathed the vehicle from front to rear. :wink
 

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The multiple coats of hard clear sealer will protect the finish from all the normal stuff we do with our RAV4s. Including car washes.
 

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The multiple coats of hard clear sealer will protect the finish from all the normal stuff we do with our RAV4s. Including car washes.
Keep telling yourself that.

If you have black, blue crush, or MGM, you'll find out very soon that this is incorrect.
The damage will be there with other colors, but not as noticeable.

Paint is soft.
Sealer provides protection from UV, and helps to prevent contaminants from "sticking", but provides NO protection against abrasion.

Every day, take a toothbrush and give ONE brush on the top of your fender.
Come back in a month and let us know how that spot looks.
 

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How about automatic car washes for models with keyless entry? I heard that if the outside door handles get wet, the car automatically locks (with the fob inside the car). Does anyone have any insight into this?

Thanks.
 
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