Can a Pickup Truck Go Through a Car Wash?

It can be daunting to figure out if a massive pickup truck, with its wide frame and exposed bed, can safely run through an automatic car wash. While it is possible, there are some factors to consider when deciding if your pickup truck can go through a car wash.

Yes, pickup trucks can go through car washes as long as those car washes have the capacity to fit them. You need to watch out for their clearance level, width, and whether they use stiff brushes in their system. It is also important to secure any openings and make sure your truck bed is empty.

How to properly assess an automatic car wash and prepare your pickup truck for a car wash are given in more detail below.


Taking a Pickup Truck Through a Car Wash, Read This

While you can take a pickup truck through an automatic car wash, you need to be aware of both the capacity of the car wash and how safe your vehicle is to be washed.

Watch Other Vehicles Coming Out of the Car Wash

The first and easiest step to see if your truck is compatible with a given car wash is to see what types of vehicles come out of the car wash. Most car washes don’t list their restrictions up front or online, even if they are part of a major franchise, so looking at the vehicles they can already accommodate is a good idea.

  • Step 1: To ensure you see the most vehicles at once, try to figure out when the car wash is busiest so you can see the most cars.
  • Step 2: Wait nearby and watch to see what types of cars are going into and out of the pickup truck.
  • Step 3: Repeat this process a few times until you can confirm that the car wash either can or can’t fit your car.

This method isn’t perfect but it can help give you a rough idea of the capacity of a car wash and what types of vehicles it can take.

Make Sure your Pickup Truck Will Fit

There are some other ways to make sure that your pickup truck can fit through a car wash if the first method fails or is inconclusive. This generally involves looking for other signs of a car wash’s capacity and looking into a location before you go in.

  • Look up online reviews for the car wash and see if anyone has complained about their truck not fitting or being damaged by the car wash.
  • Look for any signs or bumpers that indicate a height and width limit for the car wash. They may be around the back of the building.
  • Ask an attendant if your vehicle will fit through the car wash or if it might be damaged trying to go through.

Like before, these methods are mostly indirect since not all car washes list their capacity openly for customers, so you will have to use your best judgement before going in.

Watch Out for Car Washes that Use Brushes

Some car washes, either in their mechanisms or with their attendants, use stiff, bristly brushes to scrub down cars as they pass through. These brushes can scratch vehicles, especially large trucks that have a lot of surface area and will press closer against automatic brushes.

  • Ask the attendants up front whether the car wash uses stiff brushes or not, since these will likely be deep inside the car wash and out of public view.
  • See if the car wash can skip the brushing process altogether. This is often the case with brushes used by the attendants, but sometimes automatic brushes are not optional since they are part of the basic washing process.

Just because a car wash uses hard brushes, this doesn’t mean it will automatically strip or scratch your car, but this is a risk you should be aware of before entering a car wash for the first time.

Be Sure to Empty the Bed Before Washing

Your exposed truck bed is durable enough to take a direct washing even from a high-power car wash, that doesn’t mean the tools or equipment in the bed will survive. Loose tools, bricks, bags

of fertilizer, etc., all of these items will be damaged or at least thrown around by a car wash, which can harm your truck bed.

  • Make sure your truck bed is empty before you leave to go to a car wash, you don’t want to arrive at a car wash and find you still have equipment in the back.
  • Even waterproof materials can be damaged or stained by the force of the water and the use of cleaning chemicals. They can also slide around inside the bed and damage it from the inside.

If you can’t empty your truck bed before going into the car wash, then try to pull up the bed cover if you can. A hard bed cover will offer more protection than a soft cover, which might be punctured or ripped in a car wash.

Close All Windows and Secure the Tailgate

This problem may not be unique to trucks, but if there are any openings or loose locks on your truck, these may lead to water leaks or even pull the door open during a car wash. To protect the inside of your car you need to make sure all of your external openings and doors are sealed tightly.

  • Roll up all your windows, including those in the back of the cab by the truck bed to make sure they are all sealed.
  • Secure your doors and the tailgate on your truck so that they aren’t damaged or pulled open in the car wash.
  • If you are using a tailgate cover, make sure that is connected properly as well since this might be swept completely off the truck bed.

Once your vehicle is secure you can finally go into the car wash without having to worry about the inside of your car being soaked or damaged.


These steps can help you decide whether or not a car wash can fit your pickup truck and protect your truck from potential damage both inside and out.

How Much Does a Car Wash Cost For Pick Up

Depending on where you go and what type of wash you get, the cost of a car wash can range from $4 dollars for a cheap, simple wash at a less reputable station to $30 dollars for the most comprehensive, high end wash. Depend comprehensive, high end wash. Depending on how much you pay and the level of wash package you receive, what services you receive will change.

Basic Washes. A basic wash at most stations is essentially a rinse with soap and water, as well as some light brushing and drying at both the start and end of the process. These generally cost between $4 and $7 dollars depending on the quality of the car wash and how thorough the attendants are.

Advanced Washes. Advanced washes also use soap and rinsing, but they will also target special areas like the undercarriage and tires, as well as some basic waxing or sealant to protect the car in the future. An advanced wash can cost between $7 and $12 dollars, with more features leading to more expensive washes.

Full Treatment. A total wash can include high quality soap and waxing, more scrubbing features, and a thorough cleaning of the entire exterior of the vehicle along with wax sealing and shining. A full car wash package can cost between $10 and $30 dollars depending on the quality of the wash and how extensive it is.

A La Carte. Some car washes let you mix and match features, adding hot wax or undercarriage washes to a basic package or skipping the shining and buffing step in a full treatment package. Because these packages allow you to pick what services you want, they can range from a $5 for adding features to a basic wash to $30 or more for a thorough treatment.

How to Use a Coin-Operated Power Washing Service

While not all automatic car washes are truck friendly there are other ways to wash your car quickly and efficiently. Coin-operated, self-run power washing stations are available that let you wash your car in a spacious garage using a variety of powerful and effective tools, and work as follows:

    • Step 1: Make sure you have plenty of quarters before you go to the station. Some stations will take bills and some have change making systems, but this isn’t always guaranteed. Also make sure you bring soft towels to help dry your vehicle afterward.
    • Step 2: Drive your truck into an empty washing chamber, making sure to give yourself plenty of space around the front and side of the vehicle.
    • Step 3: Put in the necessary starting amount, then add more quarters to extend the time on your wash.
    • Step 4: Follow the washing instructions listed on the garage’s controls. This generally involves gently pre-rinsing the car, brushing it down with soap, and power washing the soap off.
  • Step 5: Make sure all the soap has been washed off your vehicle before you are done to make sure it doesn’t stain the vehicle. When you are done you should also towel off as much of your vehicle as possible.

Throughout the process of using a coin-operated car wash you can add more coins to extend your time in case you run out. It is also important to be careful and gentle with your tools so that you don’t damage your vehicle accidentally.

Wrap Up

It is important to know if your pickup truck will safely fit into a car wash before you try to send the vehicle through. The best way to do this is by looking at the restrictions on the car wash and seeing what vehicles they normally serve. If you have any questions about car washes or washing pickup trucks, comment with them below.

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