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E46 Convertible
The E46 vert forum. Talk about dropping your E46 top here.

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Old 03-11-2014, 11:16 PM   #1
JAM330Ci
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Washing a convertible 330Ci

I'm a new BMW owner. I have a ragtop convertible and want to know the best way to wash, or mainly if there are alternatives to hand washing. Can this car go safely through a touch less automated car wash?? Without ruining the top?

I've talked with some people who say yes, and others who say no. Any guidance would be appreciated!!!

Thanks!!


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Old 03-12-2014, 01:14 AM   #2
Antti
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Hi
Strong maybe for automatic touchless jetwash, remember to disconnect antenna if you have.
But i really do recommend hand wash only for convertibles.

My own wash procedure is like this:

1. I spray bilt-hamber autofoam with foamlance, let it take of dirt approx 10minutes
2. Jetwash with pressure washer
3. 2 buckets handwash. 2x 4 gallons buckets, one for shampoo and one for clear water.for wheels i have separate brush and water.
4. Jetwash with pressure washer
5. Dry with premium drying towels

This may sound some kind of time consuming and complex...it is not, and like this you can minimize risk of swirl marks in the paint.

Here is little video how i apply snow foam with foamlance, it is pretty good for prewashing, take off the sand & dirt from the surface.


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Last edited by Antti; 03-12-2014 at 01:20 AM.
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Old 03-12-2014, 09:56 AM   #3
JAM330Ci
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Thank you for the reply and the video! I really want to keep my car looking good, but I also know I don't always have the time needed to hand wash. So, I'm looking to see if there is a safe alternative that won't hurt my ragtop.

Thanks!


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Old 03-12-2014, 11:32 AM   #4
taylor192
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I run mine through either the touchless or brush car wash without issue. You're over thinking it.
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:34 AM   #5
JAM330Ci
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Okay, thanks for the feedback. Just to confirm, the spray wax from the car wash doesn't hurt your top or do you choose wash only.

You're right...probably overthinking. First time BMW owner so I'm just being cautious.

Thanks!!


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Old 03-12-2014, 11:56 AM   #6
aarondb4
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I looked into this as well. What I found in my research is it is not so much the car washing part of the drive thru wash that is bad for the car, it is the drying at the end. The blow dry will make the top flap in the wind which stretches it, and some say it actually pushes water into the cabin through the door seals for some verts.

I usually just hand clean mine with a spray cleaner and micro fiber towel. I buy one of those "between wash" cleaner and wax sort of things. I only do this if the car is not too dirty as I don't want to be rubbing dirt around on it. If the car is really dirty I will take it to one of the do it yourself washes. First round I go with pressure wash with soap, get all the dirt knocked off then rinse it and go. In the winter I will leave it like this as it is just going to get dirty again real soon. Summer I would then take it home and give it the spray wash.

I read lots of posts from people who own various verts that said they do run them through auto washes and don't have problems. So it is really up to you and what you are comfortable with.
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Old 03-12-2014, 12:56 PM   #7
taylor192
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Originally Posted by JAM330Ci View Post
Okay, thanks for the feedback. Just to confirm, the spray wax from the car wash doesn't hurt your top or do you choose wash only.

You're right...probably overthinking. First time BMW owner so I'm just being cautious.

Thanks!!
Wax is not good for the cloth, it can stain, yet these auto car washes don't contain enough wax to even matter. Wax is also not good for rubber seals (ie around your door), you'd know this if you ever hand waxed a vehicle. I have yet to see any rubber seal turn white from an auto car wash. Thus why you'll find lots of stories of people using these auto car washes without any issue.

Protecting the top with a proper spray is the best thing you can do. It "seals" the fabric, minimizing the worry of staining as it reduces the chance of anything penetrating the fabric.

My only gripe about the auto car washes is the door seals around the top. Mine leak.

This is about when some detailing gurus chime in that "auto car washes cause swirls" blah blah blah. All car washing causes swirls. Auto car washes introduce swirls sooner than proper hand washing techniques. If you're worried about swirls learn to polish/wax.
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Old 03-12-2014, 01:00 PM   #8
Poncho@home
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The BMW 330Cic is a small car and with a convertible top that doesn't need to be washed every time you wash the car, it takes me all of ten minutes to hand wash it.

I start with hood, trunk and windows. Then I do one complete side at a time, front & rear end, then finish with the wheels.

Chamois to dry and off for a nice ride!

If I "had" to go through an automated car wash, I'd do touchless, but not often.
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:31 AM   #9
Antti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poncho@home View Post
The BMW 330Cic is a small car and with a convertible top that doesn't need to be washed every time you wash the car, it takes me all of ten minutes to hand wash it.

I start with hood, trunk and windows. Then I do one complete side at a time, front & rear end, then finish with the wheels.

Chamois to dry and off for a nice ride!

If I "had" to go through an automated car wash, I'd do touchless, but not often.
I do recommend you quality drying towel instead of chamois. Chamois will collect all small particles inside and make swirl marks to your lacquer.

I have 3 of these, really good towels. If your car is properly waxed (water beads instantly off from the hood) , you can dry almost 3-4 cars with 1 towel.. no any need to twist it dry between different cars. It absorbs that much water



As a amateur machine polisher / detailer, i really recommend it.
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:34 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Poncho@home View Post
The BMW 330Cic is a small car and with a convertible top that doesn't need to be washed every time you wash the car
I'll frequently wash the car with the top down even. Windows up, spray soap on low power (diy coin wash), then rinse with spot free water. Comes out perfect every time. Only part you have to watch is the trunk, which you can do pointing toward the back so nothing gets on the seats.
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Old 03-14-2014, 05:31 PM   #11
sgoetz628
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Way back when, I did European Delivery, which means I picked my car up at the factory (actually just near). The fellow who handled the delivery, who had been with BMW for a good number of years, said to never actually wash the top with soap, just hose it down. So that's all I ever do
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Old 03-16-2014, 06:01 PM   #12
Fritzo2162
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Truthfully I've ran my car through a local soft cloth car wash for years and my top is still in fantastic shape. I do put a sealant treatment on it twice a year, but other than that it seems to be pretty durable.
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Old 03-16-2014, 06:15 PM   #13
Buck Henry
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Pretty sure the owners manual says it is fine to run the soft top through automatic car washes, but it says to skip the spray wax option.
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Old 03-16-2014, 10:55 PM   #14
JAM330Ci
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Thanks everyone. I decided to give the auto car wash a try, just chose a more basic wash without the blow dryer and without the wax. No issues at all.

I don't plan on doing this all the time, but sometimes it's nice to have a quick alternative to lean on to keep things looking good.

Appreciate all the input.


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Old 03-17-2014, 09:42 AM   #15
sgoetz628
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Originally Posted by Fritzo2162 View Post
Truthfully I've ran my car through a local soft cloth car wash for years and my top is still in fantastic shape. I do put a sealant treatment on it twice a year, but other than that it seems to be pretty durable.

What kind of sealant do you use? I've never even thought about that.
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:43 PM   #16
Fritzo2162
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Originally Posted by sgoetz628 View Post
What kind of sealant do you use? I've never even thought about that.
I've been using Raggtop, which was recommended to me from a Porsche club I visited a while back. It's a bit expensive but I swear to you it does the job perfectly. I put it on twice a year.



http://www.amazon.com/Raggtopp-Conve...rtible+cleaner
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Old 03-17-2014, 02:55 PM   #17
Adamo99
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^^ Post above. Use a protectant on the top, and run it through any wash you want, just like any other car. Mine still looks brand new.
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