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Can I Take My Motorcycle To The Car Wash?

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As motorcycle riders we have a special relationship with our bikes. We don’t just love riding them, we also love the visual aspect of the motorcycle. There’s nothing more satisfying than looking at a clean, shiny motorcycle. But it does take some time and effort to clean it, and learning how to clean a motorcycle engine and the motorcycle itself. A friend of mine once had the idea to skip cleaning the exterior of the bike on their own, and instead take it to a car wash. That was a lesson they learned the hard way. So here’s why that’s a bad idea:

Car Washes Use High Pressure Water

Think of how gentle you were with your bike the last time you cleaned it. A car wash is an industrial, commercial machine, and they want to get through as many vehicles as possible in the shortest time possible. So they use highly pressurized water. This can be seriously damaging to your bike – both in and out. Of course, the level of damages will depend on how high the pressure used is, but there is undoubtedly going to be some degree of damage. Additionally, the leather in some bikes would get seriously damaged if exposed to large amounts of water.

Hot Bikes Don’t Do Well With Water

You probably don’t wash your bike at home when it’s hot, even if you didn’t know that you shouldn’t. That’s because the heat from the bike might be uncomfortable, and you might have noticed that water on hot pipes creates water spots (which are very difficult to clean). But when you get into a car wash, you’re probably riding the bike there – so it’s super hot. The shock of cold water on your hot bike may cause cracking, especially if they douse it with hot water too. The extreme temperature changes are very bad for your bike. One more thing, if your engine is painted, the water in the car wash may strip it away.

Summary

In short, washing your motorcycle at the car wash is a very bad idea. You may find some places that are designed to wash bikes, so they’ll have low pressure sprayers and don’t use too much water – but there aren’t many of those facilities available. Also, no one is going to take the time to pay attention to detail the same way you would. If you want your bike to be nice and shiny, you need to do it yourself and there’s no way around it. If you make it a habit, then you won’t  need to work as hard to clean it everytime (unless your bike fell into a muddy ditch or something). Remember to wait for your bike to cool down for at least 10 minutes before you begin cleaning it, and avoid high pressure (even those high-pressure sprayers some people use to clean their floors are too much). If there’s any leather in your bike, use water in that area sparingly. #

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