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car wash scams

Car Wash Scams

If you’re going to get your car washed, you’re probably not thinking very much about being scammed, but car wash scams are actually more frequent than you think.

You might be wondering how exactly a car wash can scam you, and that’s why I decided to write this article.

Below, I will address the types of scams car washes are pulling on their customers and how you can try to avoid them.

Relevant Articles To Read:

Bait and Switch Pricing

The bait and switch remains one of the most frequent car wash scams. Operators will advertise extremely low basic wash prices online or on road signs to lure customers in. But once your car enters the automated wash tunnel, they surprise you with additional charges for upgrades like wax, tire shine, or undercarriage flush without your consent.

This forces customers to either pay the extra costs on the spot to avoid holding up the line or complain and cause delays. The pressure makes it easier for them to just accept the overcharges rather than rebel.

Avoiding Bait and Switch Scams

  • Before starting any wash package, clarify exactly what services are included in the advertised price
  • Ask questions if employees try adding last-minute charges
  • Be ready to refuse expensive addon upgrades not agreed upon upfront
  • Carefully read all signs and pricing info at the car wash entrance

Self-Service Car Wash Scams

While not outright scams, some self-service car washes have faced criticism over issues like:

  • Unexpected fees or charges
  • Machines that fail to work properly after taking your money
  • Damage caused to vehicles
  • Lack of staff presence and oversight

Problems seem most common with older and poorly maintained facilities. Do your best to inspect machines before using and avoid sites with consistent complaints. Newer self-service washes with staff on hand appear to offer better experiences on average.

Worthless Car Wash Upgrades

Many car washes relentlessly push extras like triple foam wax, rust inhibitors, or tire gloss. These upgrades can double the basic wash cost yet provide little to no actual benefit.

Industry experts confirm the additional coatings and sprays are overpriced for their value. The same cleaning can be achieved with just a basic wash.

Some addons like undercarriage flush can even damage components or drain fluids not meant to be rinsed out. Yet employees present them as essential add-ons.

Dodging Upsell Scam Tactics

  • Stick to basic washes instead of falling for intensive upsell tactics
  • Understand that most addons provide more profit than real detailing value
  • Politely decline any intense pressure to purchase premium packages

Fake Mobile Detailing Services

Scammers are now bringing car wash cons straight to your driveway. Fake mobile detailing posts promising deep discounts are appearing on community Facebook groups and Marketplaces.

Advertising unrealistic low prices and deals, they use convincing profiles with stolen before/after photos. Once contacted, scammers may provide shoddy work with damaging chemicals or simply take payments upfront and never arrive.

Staying Safe from Detailing Scams

  • Vet any unknown mobile detailers thoroughly first
  • Search for reviews, licensing paperwork, example work
  • Avoid too-good-to-be-true offers that seem suspicious
  • Only pay for mobile services after completed satisfactorily

Here is a helpful article summarizing car wash scams on Facebook and issues with self-service car washes:

Facebook Car Detailing Scams

A common scam being seen on Facebook local community groups involves fraudulent posts offering mobile car detailing services. These posts often contain stock photos of detailed cars along with offers like:

“Hello neighbors! I own a car Detailing business and am local to the neighborhood. No kind of upfront charge I have well experienced technicians. If anyone would like to support the local that would be really appreciated I’ll make sure you that you guys will be happy with my work.”

Example Post From Fake Car Detailer

Red flags with these posts include:

  • No business name, website, or credentials provided
  • The profile seems fake or was just recently created
  • Request payment upfront or a “refundable deposit”
  • Poor quality work done, if any, at inflated prices

The intention appears to be collecting deposits or payments without intending to deliver any services. Always report any Facebook group scams to the group admins so they can keep the rest of the group safe.

Key Takeaways on Car Wash Scams

  • Clarify exact pricing before starting washes to avoid surprise charges
  • Decline expensive addons that provide minimal actual value
  • Research mobile detailing advertisers completely before hiring
  • Trust your instincts – if a deal seems questionable, go elsewhere

Remaining vigilant against common car wash scams allows you to find reputable operators and receive quality cleaning without getting duped. Check reviews and reluctance to answer questions are telltale warning signs. Protect yourself through awareness.

Sources for this Article

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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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