As technology advances, cars equipped with push-button ignitions, keyless entries, safety features and antitheft systems are posing problems to car washes.
“When it used to be you pulled the car up, you shifted into neutral and turned the key,” David Reep, operations manager for Autobell Car Wash Inc., one of the largest carwash chains in the U.S., told Market Watch.
But now, the problems, which began to appear about 18 months ago, “seem to fall under one of four broad categories: cars automatically locking when the key fob leaves the vehicle; cars locking up when the exterior keypad is hit; cars shifting into park when shut off or a door is opened; and precollision systems engaging the brakes,” Eric Wulf, CEO of International Carwash Association, said in the report.
Wulf’s biggest problem right now is the Chrysler 8-speed transmission found in the 2012 Dodge Charger and 300, which prevents the cars from being shut off in any gear except for park. Because of this, customers are required to remain in the car during the wash.
“They’re what we call special-needs vehicles,” Wulf said. “So the Chrysler 300 is different than the BMW which is different than the Prius, and those are just transmission issues. And so for all of those, it requires carwash operators to keep a list and say OK, how does this car interface with our carwash, and then what do we have to instruct the customer to do?”