What Happens If You Forget To Put A Tesla In Car Wash Mode? – Introduction

What Happens If You Forget To Put A Tesla In Car Wash Mode?

Have you ever wondered what happens if you forget to put your Tesla in car wash mode? Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. You’re rushing off to work, the kids have a million questions, the dog needs walking, and that car wash appointment completely slipped your mind. Before you know it, you’re cruising down the highway, and that familiar “Car Wash Mode Activated” message doesn’t appear on your screen.

Uh oh. Now your mind starts racing, thinking about all the possible damage to your high-tech EV as it gets buffed and scrubbed by those massive car wash rollers. Relax, it’s better than you think. Here’s the inside scoop on what happens when you forget that all-important step and send your Tesla through the wash untethered. Spoiler alert: your beloved battery-powered beauty will emerge unscathed, but you may have a few surprises.

Tesla Carwash Mode – Watch BEFORE Your Next Carwash!:

Water Damage: How Much Can Seep In?

So you forgot to put your Tesla in car wash mode, and now you’re worried about potential damage. The good news is these vehicles are designed to handle some exposure to the elements. The bad news is there are still a few things you should check.

Water can seep into places you might not expect, like door seals, windows, and panel gaps. Quickly check to ensure all doors, windows, sunroofs and charging ports are fully closed. Look for any visible water spots or drips inside the cabin or trunk and wipe them up.

Seat belts, seats, carpets and floor mats: Check all soft interior parts for dampness and air them out as needed. Excess moisture can lead to mold growth if left unchecked.

Electronics: Water exposure risks shorting out components like the touchscreen, autopilot cameras, and charging equipment. If anything seems unresponsive or glitchy after washing, have it checked by the service immediately?

Paint and trim: Water spots or stains left on the paint, chrome trim, or wheel rims can be hard to remove if left too long. Wipe the entire exterior with a microfiber cloth to prevent water spot etching.

Brakes: The braking system can also be affected if water enters the brake pads or rotor. Be extra cautious for the first few stops until braking feels normal and responsive again. If braking seems spongy or unresponsive, have the system checked immediately?

A little water exposure shouldn’t cause permanent damage to a well-engineered vehicle like your Tesla, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Do a thorough check of all the points above, and if anything concerns you, schedule a service appointment right away. Your high-tech ride will thank you!

Software Malfunctions: Will My Tesla Go Haywire?

Forgetting to put your Tesla in car wash mode won’t cause any major malfunctions, but it may activate some features you’d rather keep off. The automatic emergency braking system relies on the vehicle’s sensors to detect objects like the car wash machinery, which could abruptly slow or stop your car if engaged.

Similarly, the automatic windshield wipers may turn on if the system detects water, even though the car wash equipment provides the spray. And if you have to summon enabled, the vehicle may move on its own in an attempt to come to find you, leading to damage.

While concerning, these software hiccups are not dangerous and will not permanently harm your Tesla. The vehicle is designed to default to a safe operating mode to avoid collisions or injury. However, to prevent the car from behaving erratically during a wash, activate “car wash mode” in the touchscreen menu before entering the wash bay. This turns off the sensors and software features that may activate by mistake.

Once the wash is complete, your Tesla will return to normal operation. No calibration or service is required after using car wash mode. The vehicle’s systems are engineered to handle these temporary disruptions without issue. Although forgetting this step may lead to unexpected behavior or a bumpy wash cycle, no long-term problems will result. Your all-electric companion will continue cruising down the road clean as a whistle.

Scratches and Swirl Marks: Is the Paint Finish at Risk?

When you forget to put your Tesla into car wash mode, a few things can happen to the paint finish. The automated car wash equipment like spinning brushes, high-pressure washers, and air blowers wasn’t designed with Teslas in mind. It can cause damage if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

Scratches and swirl marks are a risk if you forget this important step. The spinning brushes and mitts used in car washes can leave fine scratches in the clear coat and paint, especially on the horizontal surfaces of the vehicle, like the hood, roof, and trunk. These scratches, known as swirl marks, make the paint dull and lackluster. While a few passes through an automated car wash likely won’t do permanent damage, repeated washes can etch into the paint over time.

The powerful jets and high-pressure washers employed in car washes can also damage trim pieces and sensors on a Tesla if car wash mode isn’t activated. The force of the water and chemicals can dislodge or pry off trim like mirror caps, door handles, and the charge port door. The ultrasonic sensors used for Autopilot and emergency braking may also get damaged by the high-pressure water. These sensors are located in the front and rear bumpers and must be covered to prevent water intrusion.

To avoid scratches, swirl marks, and other damage, activate ‘car wash mode’ on the touchscreen before entering an automated car wash. This will prompt the vehicle to close the charge port, fold in the mirrors, and disengage the ultrasonic sensors to shield them from harm. Alternatively, consider using a hand wash service trained to care for Tesla vehicles properly. Their soft mitts and gentle washing process minimize the risks of scratches and swirl marks in the paint.

Do the Wheels and Tires Get Damaged?

The wheels and tires are some of the most important parts of your Tesla, so it’s natural to worry about potential damage if you forget to put the car in car wash mode. The good news is that your wheels and tires should be fine as long as you don’t make it a habit.

Car wash mode disengages the parking brake and folds in the mirrors to prevent scratches, but the wheels and tires themselves are designed to withstand normal car washes with spinning brushes and jets. The alloy wheels are coated to protect from chemicals and scratches, while the tires are durable rubber.

That said, frequently forgetting car wash mode could cause issues over time. The spinning brushes could loosen lug nuts or cause minor cosmetic damage to the wheel surface. The high-pressure jets might also push excess water into the wheel wells, which could get into the wheel bearings. Additionally, the chemicals in some car washes may dry out or crack tire rubber if exposed repeatedly.

To be safe, get in the habit of selecting car wash mode whenever possible. But if you do forget once in a blue moon, don’t panic. Inspect your wheels and tires after washing for any visible damage or lug nuts that look loose, but chances are good. Your Tesla will drive just fine. Minor mishaps happen – your Tesla is designed to handle life’s little slip-ups. Just keep enjoying your vehicle and try to remember car wash mode for the next wash!

The most important things are using car wash mode when you can, checking for any issues after washing, and not making forgetting a habit. Do that, and your wheels and tires should continue cruising for years.

Cost of Repairs: What Will Tesla Charge to Fix Water Damage?

If you forget to activate “car wash mode” before running your Tesla through an automatic car wash, you could end up with some unintended water damage. Tesla designs their vehicles for optimal aerodynamics, which means there are lots of nooks and crannies where water can collect if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

What needs to be protected?

The cameras, sensors, door handles and charging port are vulnerable to water damage if left exposed during a wash. Car wash mode will automatically close the charging port door, retract the door handles, and turn off the cameras and ultrasonic sensors to shield them from water and detergents.

How much will repairs cost?

Repairing or replacing damaged components can range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars per item. For example, a replacement camera module costs around $500, a new door handle costs $750, and fixing water damage in the high-voltage battery can cost $5,000 or more. The total cost will depend on which parts were impacted and the extent of the damage. As with any electronic device, water damage also risks corrupting the car’s software and onboard computers, significantly increasing the repair bill.

Can the damage be prevented?

The good news is that water damage from an automatic car wash can often be avoided by simply activating “car wash mode” before entering the wash. This mode triggers your Tesla to take protective steps to shield sensitive components from water exposure. However, if you need to remember and end up with water damage, be sure to have the vehicle checked by the Tesla service as soon as possible. The quicker water-damaged parts can be dried, repaired or replaced, the less likely permanent damage becomes.

While an automatic car wash in car wash mode should be fine for your Tesla, many owners prefer touchless washes or hand washing to be extra cautious. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when protecting your pricey Tesla!


So the next time you’re hitting the car wash in your Tesla and get distracted by that playlist you’re queuing up or the call coming in from your friend, don’t sweat it too much if you forget to enable car wash mode. Your Tesla was built to handle a little soap and water, even without the special setting enabled. While car wash mode optimizes the experience and ensures no issues, remembering to turn it on likely will avoid any major problems or damage.

At worst, you may need to wipe down some water spots or dry off the charging port. But otherwise, your high-tech vehicle can handle a basic wash just fine without the babysitting. Try to remember for next time – your Tesla will appreciate any extra care and customization you can provide!

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