Washing and Detailing Your MS!

I gave my MS it's first full wash and detail the other day. Overall, nothing really different than washing any other type of car, however, I did notice that a great deal areas of the car trap excess water.
Thus, for a proper detail, I suggest having some type of compressed air, or maybe a leaf-blower, to force out trapped water around the door seals, hatch seals, frunk seals, side mirror seals, tail-light seals, and especially around the front light seals. Also a clean wet high-quality shami or sham-wow, to collect the water as it runs out the seals. Finally a good quality clean microfiber cloth, and some commercial detailing spray (I use Mothers), to remove any water spots, etc. I also use a high-quality cleaner / polish / wax for any minor scratches, etc.

Being the wheels are also painted, they can be treated the same way.

Being a life-long Southern California resident, knowing how to wash and detail your ride can be a very rewarding experience. Otherwise, I suggest hiring a professional detailing service, if you really want to maintain the paint, and quality look of your MS!

Otherwise, if you trust your local car-wash... well, as the saying goes... Caveat emptor.

+1 @DouglasR LOL

I remember when I got my Infiniti G35 several years ago, it was my first nice car. For first few months, did exclusively hand washing with microfiber towels, very light force and plenty of water. Still got some mild scratches despite all that. Have decided that some scratches are unavoidable and a fact of life, although you will definitely get worse ones going through car washes where 5 guys swarm your car when it comes out and quick dry it with towels. What I don't understand is the value of buffed waxes, since you are basically putting more friction onto the paint surface in the process of buffing the wax (?).

I think the idea and purpose of the wax is to insulate the paint from friction, and contact of any kind.

Still waiting for mine. Can't wait to own a Tesla, but I am getting a bit nervous about this washing issue. I live in the Northeast and there is no way I'll be handwashing this car in January when it gets salt from the roads all over it. My hoses are all shut off that time of year so the pipes don't freeze. Are people saying even touchless car washes are a risk? It sounds like water gets into all sorts of bad places - behind tail lights, crevices in doors, leaking around window seals, etc. How can I own a car in this part of the country if I can't get a car wash in the winter? Any feedback on this? I want my Model S!

I would not worry about it. A lot of people in this board are a little paranoid when it comes to washing their new Model S:-) It is no different than taking a BMW or Mercedes to a car wash. Is it better to wash the car by hand? Of course but many of us won't have that luxury - so off to the car wash it goes.


Thanks. That's the kind of answer I was looking for. I've always brought my cars to the local car wash. Yeah, there may be some swirls and fine scratches, but I'm driving my car, not showing it in competitions. As long as it's safe to do the same with my Tesla, I'm all in. I can't wait to get the car!

To be clear - I'm hand washing my car because it is my new baby, and because I'd prefer not to swirl the paint just yet. I have no concerns about the water seal integrity of the car. Would be happy to run it through a car wash if I didn't care about my $100k purchase being damaged by hulking great machinery that isn't necessarily maintained that well.

I'll confirm the name of the place, I was referring to the Ferrari Dealer on El Camino in Redwood City, I haven't gone yet but my Pearl White Model S is begging for a wash!!!

@BYT, the place is called "Eco Green Auto Clean". I just went
there. They have free Wifi and coffee, but the waiting area
is halfway open to the outside and pretty cold.

I'm undecided. While it was 100% by hand (unlike pretty much
everywhere else) and the car got clean, the windshield wasn't
spotless and there were plenty of (probably old) dried water
spots I would have expected to be gone.

I'll try them again later when I have time for a more complete

I paid $30.

Those places tend to reuse cloths constantly and definitely don't do a 'two bucket wash'. Nice to get a hand wash, but watch out for scratches on paint and streaks on windows.

@BYT and @Tommy-Tesla
Thank you both for providing the detailed info on the car wash in Redwood City. It is very helpful to those Model S owners who want to make sure to treat their beautiful Model S right. Thank you!

I just heard that is the place TM in Menlo Park takes the cars to get detailed... More information and I myself haven't tried it but Yelp reviews seem good.

Eco Green Auto Clean
Auto Detailing, Car Wash
Hours today: 8:30 am - 5 pm
2801 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94061

What is the consensus on the "touchless" car washes that use high pressure water jets to clean the car? I had read somewhere that some of the seals leak. Should I expect water to be dripping on me if I drive my Tesla into one of these? It would seem to be the best automatic car wash option, because no contact with pads, brushes, etc that can scratch the finish. They never get the car quite as clean, but during winter in the Northeast, I need an alternative to hand washing.


'What is the consensus on the "touchless" car washes that use high pressure water jets to clean the car?'

Only complaint I've heard is that the water is recycled through the system.

The guy who did my paint armor wrap said that the touchless car washes use chemicals that are not good for the wrap or paint (I don't know which). I have no idea whether he is right.

@TikiMan - great write up! Thank you.

I've been a habitual drive-through car wash user. But when talked with my DS about car care and their recommendation to hand wash, I decided to kick the habit and try the junkman's two bucket car wash technique. I got my foam gun, grit guards, auto soap , and microfiber wash mitts from amazon, and gave my new beauty its first wash on Saturday. Keep in mind, I'm in Florida, so temps were in the 70's.

As "the junkman" advertised, no swirl marks. If you're looking for a good auto soap to use (I'm pretty sure it's the one he used in his youtube video), try Chemical Guys Extreme Maxi Suds II. It worked well for me in the soap bucket and in the foam gun. After the wash, I drove the car about three miles to dry it off, and then blew it dry with a leaf blower.

I have a Black Model S, and so I finished off the afternoon with Carnauba enriched Turtle Wax spray-on Black Wax product. I've usually applied paste or liquid waxes to my cars in the past, but this stuff really seemed to go on and come off easy.

I used a regular hose attachment sprayer for rinsing the car, and I observed very little water in the door seals, frunk, and rear liftgate. Not sure if this has been improved over the earlier cars (My VIN is around 4000), but water leakage wasn't a problem. I think most owners should not have much of a problem unless you spray high pressure water into the car crevices directly.

The results: Fantastic! Car looks like new again! (of course, I just got it last week.)

Here's the Junkman's Youtube video:

It would be interesting to invite the Junkman to do a demo video on an S!

Can anyone recommend any mobile detailing services in the Ventura County or North LA County area?

@bbmertz - check with your DS or the local service center. TM here in S FL use the same guy for all the pre-delivery prep. They probably use someone there too.

This does not relate to keeping your MS clean and tidy, but an observation (and very disappointing one) that I made while washing mine. While i was cleaning the lower portion of the car near the rear wheel well, I noticed a few "chips" on the paint. At first I thought, oh well it was going to happen eventually. However, then I noticed that the chips were in fact under the layer of body armor that I had paid $1k! Apparently, in the rush to get the car out of the factory, the body armor was applied on top of pre-existing dings in the paint without taking the time to repair them first. Disappointing. Now I wonder what other defects were overlooked in the rush to push cars out the door.

@mferranzo - TM will repair this if you let them know.

@DouglasR ... that doesn't help much :)

This question is for you detail guys that did not get the paint armour. What product are you using on your plastic nose cone to keep it protected and looking new. I am using carnauba wax on the paint.

All good info-we take ours to self-wash places. Costs about $3. It was suggested to us by our DS that we NOT take it to your 'normal' (ie Duckys, Autopride) places for numerous reasons none of which need explanation. We were also told to NOT use car mitts & to only use chamois cloths. First time we washed her we used soft terry cloths but that did indeed leave a few fine scratches.
Chamois is about $20 depending on the size you get but I won't use anything else.When using power type washers or blowers it was also recommended to us to stay @ LEAST 12" away from the vehicle.
We had a little 'incident' and had to buff out some paint on a wheel well edge & we got TR3 which is an excellent product. Took the paint off from our 'incident' no scratching and great shine.

I used a 'touch less' high pressure automatic car wash once and had one minor problem. I inspected the car after the wash and found a little plastic hinged cover at the edge of the panoroof (above the passenger door) had 'flipped open'! I am not sure if the water pressure did this or the air pressure from the dryer. I think this hinged cover (there are 4 of them) might be a cover for a luggage rack attachment, or perhaps access to mounting hardware for the glass roof. I just closed the plastic cover and no harm done, but the part felt rather flimsy and I would be concerned about it breaking upon future car washes!

We have both mike's car wash and Mr. Clean Car Wash in Ohio. Anyone use these places for their Model S.
(Parents unable to do personal hand car washing)


Any problems with microfiber Clothes? I think I saw them used at the service ctr. Started using Eco Clean hand car wash on El Camino Real. I think they are used by Tesla. Their clean kit includes some patented cleaning solution and microfiber clothes. Bought a bunch of cloths at Costco. Your experience is most welcome.

Not for the wash job, use wash mitts for that (cheep or microfiber), no sponge...

Definitely use microfiber cloths for drying, paint prep (cleaning) and waxing. But make sure you have good quality ones, nice and thick not those cheap household crap....

They need to look plush like this:

keep the cheap ones for trims and such.

You should wax your car once in the spring and once in the fall. This way you paint will last

Bad advise. Most waxes (or sealants) don't last that long. Simply look if water drops keep forming on the paint and if water runs smoothly of the car. If not, then it is time to clean/prep and wax...

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