• How to Get Car Wash Damage Paid

There are ways for you to get

The benefits of going to a car wash are unmistakable. You don’t have to exert effort cleaning your car. Really, you don’t even have to do anything. All you need to do is roll up to an automatic or full-service car wash and let somebody else — or something — do the work for you. Once you’re done, you just need to pay for the service, and you can go on your way with a car that looks about as clean as it can be. Unfortunately, car wash services aren’t without their hiccups. A myriad of things can go wrong and, depending on what they are; you could go home with car wash damage on your car. Dirty brushes in an automatic car wash can cause scratches on your car, especially if they hold dirt or rocks from earlier car washes. Wayward debris could end up scratching your car without you knowing it. Some parts of your car can also get damaged, including the antenna — if there are any — or the wheels. Whatever it is, there are ways to respond to these potential damages, and if you didn’t know what to do then, hopefully, we can help you out so that if it happens again, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Step One: Make sure there’s a damage policy in place

How to Get Car Wash Damage Paid
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Most car owners forget to do this, and it’s often the first thing a car wash company points to when it comes to grievances.

A damage policy is what service providers — a car wash counts as one — can hide behind in the event something the proverbial doody hits the fan.

That’s why when you arrive at a car wash, make sure to read the establishment’s damage policy. Most people don’t even bother to do it because they know what they’ll end up reading, specifically the part where the car wash is not responsible for any damages to a car. If there is one posted, make sure to read clearly. If you need to ask an employee about it, do that, too. The last thing you should do is ignore the damage policy because if it can be proven that the establishment was negligent in its service, you can still get paid on whatever damages — if there are any — your car sustains while it’s getting washed. In the event that the policy is clear that, under no circumstances, the store isn’t liable for any damages, do the prudent thing and look for another car wash.

Step Two: Give your car a thorough inspection before you leave the car wash

How to Get Car Wash Damage Paid
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Here’s another thing that most people don’t do, only to end up regretting it later. Once you’re done having your car washed, park on the side, get out of your car and give it a thorough inspection.

In most cases, you won’t find anything suspicious, so once you’re done with your inspection, you can get back in your car and drive away.

But in the event you spot an issue, imperfection, or damage that was caused by the car wash, you need to immediately contact an employee or a supervisor to let them know about the damage. At this point, these people will listen to your complain, check the damage, and ask you to fill out an incident or damage report. Don’t skip on any of this because if you do, there’s a good chance that your complaints will be all for naught. If you decide to go home and inspect your car there, there’s a good chance that your grievances will hold little weight, in part because you won’t be able to prove to the establishment or your insurance provider that the damage to your car was caused by the car wash.

Inspecting your car doesn’t take long, especially if you know any of its pre-existing knocks.

But if you leave the car wash before you inspect your car, there’s a good chance that you won’t get a dime from any possible damage caused by the car wash.

Step Three: Make your concerns known

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The next step is the easiest and most straight forward step, but it’s also the most time-consuming and frustrating step.

Once you have spoken to the car wash’s owner, manager, or supervisor, you may be required to fill out an incident report.

This report serves a number of functions, including as a guide for insurance companies or law enforcement authorities on the possible causes of the damages sustained by your car. When you’re filling up a report, make sure that you include every important detail about the car and the car wash, including where the damage occurred. Granted, a bit more investigation surrounding the cause of the damage would help, but if you’re pressed for time, you need to make do with what you can recall.

Once the damage report is done, make plenty of copies of the report and keep one for yourself as a matter of record.

Don’t let anyone force you into writing anything that could waive potential liability out of the establishment’s hands. Remember that you’re the aggrieved party here. Make sure that you make that abundantly clear in your incident report. Otherwise, you’ll end up only wasting your time.

Step Four: Wait for a Decision and Fight if You Have to

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Once you’re done with the hard part of filing a complaint with the car wash, you might have to wait for a resolution, especially if insurance companies get involved.

Depending on the car wash’s insurance policy, you may even have to get damage estimates on your car.

This is par for the course so don’t get discouraged. If you’ve ever had to claim anything from insurance companies, you know that these companies don’t always act with any sense of urgency. They’re going to make you wait so you should be patient. Once the final determination has arrived, and your complaint holds up, the car wash will have to pay you depending on the agreed upon amount. This could be for all the damages sustained by your car, or it could be for the lowest estimate. Whatever the decision is, make sure that it’s in your best interest. In the event that your claims are denied, you’re going to have to take the issue up to another level.

Contact the insurance company, if need be.

If you think you’re getting the short end of the decision, find a lawyer and ask him to help. Whatever you do, don’t succumb to any pressure if you feel that you’re in the right. A car wash company might also want to settle to avoid any involvement of lawyers. You can entertain this provided that it covers all potential costs tied to repairs for your cars. Don’t settle for anything less.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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