Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Why? From a full service carwash guy.

October 11, 2010
Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter because I don’t understand why a number of parts, designs, and common practices in the automotive industry are the way they are.

For instance, why are back and front window defrosters designed with the electrical connection exposed so that the wires can easily be caught by a towel and broken off the window? The soldering repair seems to be unreliable and the cost of replacement is $300-$400 dollars.

More why’s
Why do we have windows that open on the back hatch of SUVs? Besides raising the cost of the vehicle and making it less structurally sound, the interior of the car is nosier and water keeps dripping from the window frame after a wash.

Why does the auto dealer always put the tape or glue over the defroster elements when placing the temporary paper license plate, making it easy to damage the element when the consumer removes the tape or glue from the back window?

Why hasn’t a trailer hitch cover been designed which doesn’t fall off during the wash process? I must have two dozen of them.

Why aren’t the automatic wiper sensors designed with a simple, easy-to-read off and on switch? Many customers have no idea how to shut these off.

Why are they using such light beige and grey colors for the carpet, interior, and mats? They quickly become soiled on the first rainy day.

Why don’t car manufactures design their vehicles with the ability to make it through the envelope of a carwash without damage? The Ford Edge, GM Yukon, Chevy Blazer, and Chrysler Jeep Commander all buy rear wipers from the same vendor which have weak stress points and are breaking like peanut brittle at a cost of $26 a pop for me to replace.

Why are so many rear wipers designed so cheaply? Oftentimes the carwash cloth slips between the wiper arm and body or window of the car causing the wiper arm to break off.

Four locations, 300,000 customers, a zillion problems
I have four locations with all of them having different components from different manufacturers in each phase of the carwash process. Items which are damaged at one wash also are damaged at the other three. Serving over 300,000 customers a year, our carwashes are considered some of the best in the industry and we still have damage.

Why are antennas still placed in the fender of a vehicle instead of the back window which rarely needs replacement? My shark fin antenna on my Cadillac STS’s roof and my rubber antenna on my BMW Z-4 are fine. By the way, the Z-4 gets at least 320 washes a year and all the parts stay on.

Why do we Americans put such cheap mirrors on our vehicles? I have washed over 3.5 million vehicles and have never broken a mirror on a Japanese vehicle. I spent $18,000 dollars in one year alone replacing mirrors on GM’s 1999-2002 SUVs. They were so bad that GM engineered a bungee cord type of repair for the ’99-’02.

Why did BMW design a gear shift on the steering column which is so sensitive that you have to have the skill of a brain surgeon to easily position it in neutral, after which it must be returned to “park” to restart.

Why is it so difficult to get these hybrid cars in neutral? They should make a video available so I can train my people.

Why does Mercedes design its cars so that they shut off in park and not in neutral without the key fob? You can’t send a vehicle down the conveyor with the engine running and no one behind the wheel.

Why a power hatch? By the time it opens, I could have had all three windows wiped perfectly clean.

Why is the door lock button so close to the door handle in the Jeep Commander, making it easy to mistakenly lock up?

Why are the Cadillac CTS heat & A/C vent knobs manufactured so cheaply that when you wipe down the dash, they break off?

Why can’t the cup holders have liners that can be easily removed for cleaning? Why do they put cup holders on the side of seats that flip down, allowing them to break so easily?

Why aren’t the door handle areas designed so you don’t have to have the hands of a three year old to clean under them? Why is the rear license plate area so big and so indented on certain vehicles, making it very hard to clean?

Why don’t they design a mirror that doesn’t drip water for the first 5 miles of driving after leaving a carwash? We even blow out the mirrors with compressed air and they still drip and drip and drip.

The sooner we get some satisfactory answers, the brighter each carwash experience will be for everyone involved.

Bill Catalfio
Mr. C’s Car Washes
Detroit Metro Area