Most vans will be able to fit into an average car wash as long as it is a domestic van. A large commercial van is a different matter as they are usually bigger and have higher roofs. Generally, modern-day car washes are made relatively large to fit a variety of vehicle sizes.
This is because they would miss out on a lot of customers if they had too small a car wash that could only fit car models.
Most domestic vans are still small enough to safely enter a car wash without scraping the sides or hitting the top. You just have to make sure that you are paying attention when entering one.
A Van Can Fit Into a Car Wash
As long as your van is a domestic van, it should be able to easily fit into a car wash. Most car washes are large enough to fit a regular-sized van without risking any damage or collisions.
A domestic van is a van made for personal or pleasure use, meaning it is more of a day-to-day van. Whereas a commercial van is a van made specifically for hauling or transporting goods, these kinds of vans will often be much larger in size.
If you are driving a commercial van made for transporting goods, this could become much more complicated. Commercial vans are made larger and often have a higher roof which could risk hitting the top of the car wash.
If this is the case, you may need to check the dimensions of your van and the car wash to make sure you can fit. You never want to risk driving into an area that looks too small, as this could create a high issue.
If the worst-case scenario did happen and you drove your van into a car wash that was too small. You risk damaging not only your van but the car wash building as well, your van could even become wedged and not be able to get out.
As long as you are driving a regular-sized van, this should never be an issue, however. So you can safely drive your van into a car wash without risking any kind of damage.
Van Models That Fit in a Car Wash
The most common vans that will fit into a car wash include the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna. These are just a few more popular options that are smaller in size.
Just about any domestic van is going to fit into a car wash since they are not built too high. It is commercial vans that you have to worry about as they have a much higher roof.
Domestic vans are generally made with day-to-day activities in mind, including the need to go through a car wash.
Some vans with the right dimensions to fit in a car wash without risking any damage are:
- Mercedes Sprinter: 96.3 in. high by 80 in. wide
- Ford Transit: 82 in. high by 81 in. wide
- Honda Odyssey: 68 in. high by 79 in. wide
- Toyota Sienna: 69 in. high by 79 in. wide
- Chevrolet Express: 84 in. high by 79 in. wide
- Dodge Grand Caravan: 68 in. high by 79 in. wide
Most Car Washes 10-12 feet high and 15 feet wide
Most car washes nowadays are built relatively large to accommodate all kinds of vehicles and different sizes. This is great news for any van owners looking for a quick clean .
Even if you do happen upon a car wash that is not large enough to accommodate your van, you probably will be able to tell pretty quickly just by looking. Many car washes that can’t take vans will often give you a heads up as well.
Generally, a car wash is going to be around 10 to 12 feet high and 15 feet wide. This gives most van models ample room to drive in and out while getting clean.
While the average-sized van is going to be around 56 and 59 inches tall and 61 to 66 inches wide. These measurements are for an average medium-sized van, not a larger one or a minivan.
This gives most van owners plenty of wiggle room to safely use a car wash, even if it is designed for cars. The general rule is that there must be at least 4 inches of height clearance at the top when you enter the car wash.
If you are unsure about whether or not your van will fit in the car wash and the staff doesn’t know either, you can slowly drive up to evaluate the height and width. You should be able to easily tell just by looking if you are parked in front of the entrance.
Oversized Vehicle Car Washes Can Fit Large Vans
If there are no car washes that are large enough to fit your van, you could always look for an oversized car wash. These are places usually designed for larger vehicles like monster trucks, SUVs, and commercial vans.
An oversized car wash is going to be much larger to fit a different scale of vehicles without posing any risk. If you are nervous about driving your van through a normal car wash, this is a great alternative.
The downside to oversized car washes is that they are far less common and can be harder to find. They most likely will not be located in smaller towns since they wouldn’t get much business in those places.
A quick google search should help you find out where the closest oversized vehicle car wash is. You may be lucky and find one nearby.
Washing a Van By Hand Vs Through a Car Wash
If you are debating on whether taking your van through a car wash or washing it by hand is better, this comparison may be able to help. There are some pretty distinct pros and cons to both options to consider.
If you really want to keep your van clean and looking nice, there is one obvious option that is going to help you do just that. It isn’t the most convenient option, but it provides much better end results.
Vans Washed By Hand Get a More Detailed Clean
Washing a car by hand is the better option in most cases and provides a much better end result. This is because hand washing is more specific and allows you to get to all of those nooks and crannies.
Hand washing is also more thorough and will result in a much cleaner van without the risk of scratches or too much abrasion. This also gives you the ability to wax and polish your van after it has been freshly cleaned.
The big downside to hand washing a van is that it can be very time-consuming, more so than washing a car. There is a lot of space to cover, and it can take a few hours to complete and rinse off.
Vans are taller than a car so you will need to either have a small ladder on hand, or a sponge on a stick. One of either of these two options will allow you to clean the entire van, including the roof.
You will also need to live in an area where you can wash your van, preferably in a driveway, but you can do it in a garage as well.
A Car Wash Is Quicker Than Doing It by Hand
A car wash has the benefit of being very convenient, much more than hand washing your van is. It takes about 5 minutes without you having to do much of anything, car washes are also very cheap.
Car washes are also easy to find no matter where you go as there are usually several options in every town and city. They have the huge benefit of being fast, easy, and requiring no work on your part.
The downside to using a car wash is that you are quite literally getting what you paid for. They don’t do a very good job usually and basically give your van a nice rinse off, and that’s all.
Car washes were designed to be fast and cheap, which is why they are not the most ideal way to get your van nice and clean. They can also be abrasive and rough on your van, which could wear down the protective finish on the paint.
Using an abrasive car wash too frequently could result in your van looking dull or scratched. It could also wear down the protective fish to the point of leaving the paint exposed to the elements.
A Car Wash is Easier So You Can Do It More Often
Washing your van in a car wash also makes it much easier to wash your van often. Since you should wash your van every two weeks, this makes doing that much easier.
Even if a car wash doesn’t clean your van quite as well as hand washing does, it still helps to keep it clean. This is a great option for when you just don’t have time to wash your van by hand.
Downsides to Using a Car Wash
Though using a car wash is probably the easiest and most convenient way to get your van washes, there are some downsides. Like anything, there are pros and cons, and car washes are no different.
They are Abrasive
One huge downside to car washes is the fact that they are kind of rough and can easily become abrasive. As much as you want your van to be nice and clean, that could easily come at a cost.
Car washes have a lot of moving parts and are rough with your car to wash off dry and hard areas of dirt. But this can do more harm than good for your van in the long run.
These kinds of abrasive washes can wear down the protective coating on your paint job, exposing car paint to the elements. It can also dull the appearance of your van as it scratches the protective coating and gloss.
They Could Damage Your Van
Because car washes have a lot of fast-moving parts meant to quickly and effectively scrub off first and other debris, they could easily damage your van accidentally. A scratch or a ding is not uncommon and is an issue to consider.
Scratches are a very common complaint when it comes to driving through a car wash. But you could even risk more serious dings and dents to your van if any equipment hits your vehicle.
In such a tight space, it would be very easy to accidentally drive too close to the equipment and get a ding or dent in your van.
Another concern with going to a car wash is that you have no idea what kind of cleaning products they are using. Vehicles should only ever be cleaned with products made for that specific purpose.
When you go to a car wash, you never know if they are actually using car cleaning products or how good of quality they are. Bad cleaning products could easily strip your car and make it less protected against the elements/
If you go to a car wash, you risk having your van washed with hard water. This could result in unsightly mineral deposits that make your van look just as dirty as before.
Not only does this defeat the purpose of getting your van cleaned, but it could also become a permanent issue if the water evaporates too quickly. This could result in permanent mineral deposit spots all over your van.
Self-Service Car Wash Vs Automatic Car Wash
If you are trying to decide whether a self-serve car wash or automated car wash is the better option for you, this comparison should help. These are both good options depending on what you are looking for.
Between the two, one option is obviously more effective while the other is more convenient. It will depend purely on what you want in a car wash, ease, or a spotless end result.
Self-Service Car Wash
A self-service car wash is an option that is very similar to hand washing your car, only this way, everything is provided for you. You don’t have to drive into a car wash, and you get to clean your van for as long as you like.
A self-service car wash provides everything you need, from the hose to the space to the cleaning products. You pay for the spot and can stay there as long as you need to completely wash your van.
This is a great option for van owners as everything that you need is supplied, including cleaning gear that can reach those higher spots on your van.
The downside to this option is that it is still pretty time-consuming and takes effort on your part. Everything is provided for you, but you still have to put in the work and the time to get your van looking nice and clean.
The good thing is that this option isn’t too much money and won’t cost you much more than taking your van through an automated car wash.
Automatic Car Wash
An automatic car wash is the most time-sensitive option since it is quick and easy. You don’t have to get out of your car or do any kind of cleaning on your own.
With an automated car wash, all you have to do is drive into the car wash and let it clean your van, it’s that simple. This is also a very cheap option.
The downside, of course, is that this option is not as effective as cleaning your van yourself. It won’t get into all of those hard-to-reach areas or leave your van looking spotlessly clean.
This is an option best known for its ease of use and not its actual end product since these types of car washes rarely clean your van very well.
You Should Wash a Van Several Times a Month
If you want to keep your van looking clean and fresh, it is important that you regularly wash it and keep it clean. This is something that can be very inconvenient, but it is often worth it.
Generally, any vehicle should be washed once every two weeks, this would add up to being washed twice per month. Some people who baby their vans might even wash them on a weekly basis.
It is important to wash your van regularly to avoid getting a build-up of dirt or having debris scratch away at your paint job’s protective exterior. It also helps to keep your windows clear and easy to see out of.
Cleaning your van every two weeks will also help keep anything from getting too stuck to your car and causing damage.
You Can’t Wash a Van Too Much
If you really love your van and enjoy taking care of it, you may want to wash it even more than once every two weeks. You may even want to wash it a few times a week.
This may sound like a lot, but it actually can’t harm your van as long as you are washing it correctly. As long as you are using the right cleaning products and nonabrasive sponges, your van will be fine.
There is no such thing as keeping your van too clean, so you can wash it as often as you like. Just try to avoid washing it on hot and sunny days when the heat could cause mineral deposit spots on your van.
Benefits of Cleaning a Van in a Car Wash
If you are still considering what method to use to clean your van and get it looking like new again, here are some benefits to using a car wash.
A car wash may not be as effective as some other methods, but it does have its special perks.