Tesla car wash mode: Your Complete Guide

The emergence of Teslas revolutionized the EV industry thanks to their advanced technology. These sleek, elite electric vehicles epitomize auto efficiency and performance while focusing on a greener future. They have appealing features not available in a conventional gasoline car.

Tesla car wash mode

The only issue that can give you goosebumps is cleaning your car. Since Teslas have a ceramic coating, exterior washing can make you anxious. The vehicle’s paint job uses water-based paints susceptible to scratching. Besides, it has electrical parts that can be damaged when exposed to water.

As such, taking your Tesla through a regular car wash can supposedly damage the exterior components, leading to premature wear. These car washes use abrasive cleaning fluid, harsh chemicals, and stiff brushes to clean your EV.

The type of washing matters, and that’s why Telsa advises car owners to take their vehicles to a touchless car wash to maintain their pristine condition. The company also introduced Tesla Car Wash Mode as one of the safety features to help Tesla EV owners through the washing process without damaging their vehicles.

This complete guide explains everything about Tesla Car Wash Mode and how to use it. Keep it here to learn more.

What is Tesla Car Wash Mode?

Tesla Car Wash Mode is a safety feature on the latest Tesla models. This convenient feature is available on Tesla Model 3, Tesla Y, and the remodeled Model S and Telsa Model X. It helps protect your EV from damage in an automatic drive-thru car wash by deactivating vital electrical components in your car.

Tesla advises EV owners to activate Car Wash Mode when using touch-less automatic car washes. Failure to enable this dedicated mode might result in tremendous damage and void your warranty. Moreover, insurance companies might not compensate you if they discover Car Wash Mode was disabled, leading to additional service costs.

Should I Take My Telsa Through a Car Wash?

Cleaning a Tesla at home can be difficult if you don’t have the appropriate guidelines on how to do it. Improper washing can damage the exterior trim, windshield wipers, exterior glass, charging port, or even your newly installed Tesla SpaceX Badge.

Fortunately, Tesla realizes the wash experience hassle EV owners face. That’s why Telsa developed the Car Wash Mode, making it available via an air software update. This special mode allows you to take your Tesla to a car wash. However, you should avoid a soft-touch car wash and seek touchless car wash services for the perfect wash.

Since Tesla exteriors have delicate metal surfaces and coatings, they are susceptible to paint damage and scratches when cleaned in a regular automated car wash with a conveyor belt.

Most commercial conveyor car washes do not employ manual labor or a wash employee to monitor the wash process, leaving your car vulnerable. Moreover, a service car wash employee might use chemical or abrasive cleaners with caustic ingredients that could further damage your EV during the wash cycle.

If your car is not too dirty, consider a water-free washing service. This method uses approved cleaning formulas, sprays, and cloth cleaning strips to remove environmental elements such as tar spots, dead insects, bird droppings, traces of road salt, tree resin, and industrial fallout. Always read the product label to ensure it has no corrosive substances.

What Does Car Wash Mode on Tesla Do?

Generally, the Car Wash Mode provides additional insurance for your electric vehicle when washing in an automated touchless car wash. This wash feature disables all the vital exterior components susceptible to damage during the wash cycle.

Car Wash Mode

Putting your car into Car Wash Mode does the following:

  • Disables Sentry Mode
  • Locks the charging port
  • Disables automatic wipers
  • Closes the trunk (for automated trunks)
  • Closes all windows
  • Deactivates the vehicle parking sensors
  • Disables automated door locks
  • Displays Climate Control status

How To Enable Car Wash Mode on Tesla?

Before enabling Car Wash Mode, ensure your Tesla is in Park mode and not actively charging.

Here are the steps:

  1. On the Telsa touchscreen, go to Controls
  2. Tap Service on the dialog window
  3. Tap Car Wash Mode

How to Enable Free Roll in Car Wash Mode?

If using an automated car wash, you must enable Free Roll. This feature puts your car in Neutral and prevents it from applying the parking brake during the wash cycle. With your foot on brake, press the Enable Free Roll button. Alternatively, shift your car into Neutral.

How to Disable Car Wash Mode?

You can exit Car Wash mode via two methods. You can press the Exit Wash Mode button on your vehicle’s touchscreen. Alternatively, press the brake pedal to engage Drive Mode. Car Wash Mode will exit automatically when the vehicle speed exceeds 10 mph.

Is Car Wash Mode Useful?

Car Wash Mode offers several benefits to Tesla owners. First, enabling this feature protects your vehicle from damage in an automated touchless car wash. It disables sensitive electrical components ensuring excess amounts of water do not destroy them during the wash cycle.

This feature can also be helpful when shopping for insurance quotes. You can purchase an affordable policy since insurers often evaluate a vehicle’s safety features to determine the premium amounts.

The only slight concern is that Car Wash Mode disables Tesla Sentry Mode, meaning your EV is vulnerable to vandalism if left unattended. Lock the vehicle and have a checklist of items inside before using automatic car wash services.

Cautions for Exterior Cleaning

Given the risks of taking a Tesla through a car wash, many EV owners prefer to clean their vehicles at home. After all, an automatic wash might overlook your car’s grooves and hard-to-reach areas.

Cautions for Exterior Cleaning

For best results, you can clean your Tesla’s exterior using the waterless car wash method or the two-bucket method. Whatever your preferences, here are some cautions for exterior cleaning:

  • Clean your car in a shaded area away from direct sunlight
  • Do not use windshield treatment fluids as they can impede wiper friction, resulting in a chattering sound
  • Avoid exposure to soaps above pH 13 as they might discolor the decorative exterior trim over time
  • Aiming the water jet directly at the parking sensor can damage it
  • Maintain a 12-inch distance between the pressure water nozzle and your vehicle and keep it moving to avoid damaging your car

Do I Need to Put My Car Into Car Wash Mode to Clean the Interior?

Car Wash Mode is for exterior washing. Interior cleaning has different guidelines. Here are a few tips:

 Tesla interior Cleaning
  • Use a soft cloth or high-quality microfiber cleaning cloth moistened with warm water to wipe the leather seats and seat belts and let them dry naturally, or use a soft, lint-free cloth to dry them
  • Do not use chemical-based or abrasive cleaners or hot water to clean the interior glass, as they could damage the reflective surface. Instead, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe fluid on glass
  • The dashboard and adjacent surfaces should remain unpolished since polished surfaces reflect and might hinder your driving view
  • Do not use alcohol-based gel products, wet wipes, glass cleaners, or a piece of dry statically-charged fabric to clean the Tesla touchscreen. Activate Screen Clean Mode and use a soft, lint-free cloth for monitors to wipe the touchscreen.
  • Do not use hot water, caustic solutions, dirty water, silicon-based additives, and bleaches, as they could damage the interior components


What Are the Benefits of the Car Wash Mode?

Car Wash Mode is a feature on Teslas that protects the vehicle from scratches and dents when using an automatic car wash. It disables or locks vulnerable parts such as the windows, automatic windshield wipers, charge port, parking sensor chimes, Sentry Mode, walk-away door locking, and the trunk.

Can Teslas Go Through a car wash?

Since Teslas are prone to scratches, they cannot go through a regular car wash that uses abrasive cleaners and bristled brushes. They can only survive a touchless car wash in an automatic car wash that uses high-pressure water jets and foam detergents.

Why is Car Wash Mode greyed out?

Car Wash Mode greyed out means your Tesla is not in parking mode. You can only activate Car Wash Mode if your vehicle is in Park and not charging. Activate the parking brake and ensure your car is not actively charging to enable Car Wash Mode.

How do I disable Tesla Car Wash Mode?

You can exit Car Wash mode via two methods. First, press the Exit Wash Mode button on your vehicle’s touchscreen. Alternatively, drive away, and Car Wash Mode will exit automatically when the vehicle speed exceeds 10 mph.


Tesla advocates for a more sustainable future by encouraging automakers to go the electric way. However, electric components are delicate and prone to damage, meaning taking your EV through a car wash can be an uneasy experience. Fortunately, you can protect your Tesla and avoid additional costs by activating Tesla Car Wash Mode if washing in an automated touchless car wash. Follow this comprehensive guide to learn how to enable Car Wash Mode on your electric vehicle.

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