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Questioning the Safety of Modern Car Washes

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Traditional Car Wash

Photo: Pixabay

While some drivers opt for washing their vehicles by hand rather than risk potential damages that happen in automated car washes, an even more important safety-related concern is how safe the car washes are to car wash employees. A video clip that graced YouTube last week brings up an important safety concern: just how safe are contemporary car washes?

The video depicts a young car wash worker doing his job of supervising the equipment inside of a car wash while he hoses off an adjacent wall. Suddenly, one of the giant whirling brushes sucks in the hose, which in turn, sucks in the worker.


The worker goes on a horrifying ride from his tangled position on the brush. His ride is a short one, thankfully, whether an auto-shutdown feature activates or a fellow co-worker acts quickly to turn off the machine and save the unfortunate worker.

Though the cause of the incident is unknown, the event calls into question the protective features of modern car washes. If not even car wash employees are 100% safe in this setting, what about drivers and vehicles who use the car wash?


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The issue of car wash safety gets even more complicated when you consider the potential threat of cybersecurity attacks. Just this summer, security researchers from QED Secure Solutions and Whitescope Security successfully hacked a car wash’s system and triggered functions that could harm both vehicles and vehicle passengers who were going through the car wash.

The video of the car wash hack wasn’t released to the public, at the request of the car wash owner. However, during the hack, the researchers were able to bypass the bay door sensors to potentially trap the car underneath it. They were also able to manipulate the car wash’s arm to either consistently flood the outside of the door (so the passenger couldn’t exit the vehicle) or to hit the vehicle itself.

Companies like QED Secure Solutions and Whitescope Security are working on improving car wash security by focusing on reinforcing firewalls that the car wash staff uses to protect the functions and technology of their car wash. Until then, you might just want to wash your car by hand to ensure that you and your vehicle are as safe as possible.

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Photo: Pexels


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News Sources: The Drive, CNET

  • Whitney BurchEditor

    Whitney Burch is a current resident of Dayton, though her spirit can be found beach-bumming on Puerto Rico (the land of her half-Puerto Rican heritage that she has been gifted to visit…and plans on visiting again sometime when the Future deems it practical!). When not adventuring through the exciting world of car news, she can be found hiking with her boyfriend and their growing-up-too-fast Labrador puppy, motorcycling, reorganizing and/or decorating some corner of the world (most likely in yellow), researching random things, scribbling on her blog, and escaping into a great movie, poem, or short story. See more articles by Whitney.