What To Consider if You Take your Soft-Top Bronco Through a Drive-Through Car Wash (Touchless or Touch)
To quickly answer the question…
Can you take your soft-top Bronco through a touchless or touch car wash?
Yes, you can take a Soft-Top Bronco through a touchless or touch car wash, and it will not leak or damage the canvas. However, other potential problems might occur from taking your Bronco through a drive-through wash, such as broken antennas, leftover soap residue, and damaged side mirrors.
Let’s jump into the post and go over what you should consider if you plan to take your soft-top Bronco through a drive-through wash.
After taking the Bronco through a slightly muddy trail the other day, I had some stuck-on grime and dirt which needed to be removed.
I was at the gas station fueling up and thought about taking the Bronco through the wash… and then instantly thought against it. I initially thought the water would leak under 1200-2200 PSI, which you typically see at a commercial car wash. After thinking about it, I hit the send button to see what would happen.
Touch or Touchless Wash?
I chose a touch wash to put the soft top through its paces. I plan on upgrading to a hard top in the near future, so if something were to happen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The sound of the bristles hitting the soft top was pretty intense, but after checking the canvas material upon driving out of the wash – everything appeared to be okay. The canvas seems to be pretty strong.
Close Side Mirrors
This one goes without saying. Hop out and fold those mirrors in.
Remove the Antenna (Or buy a Stubby)
The Bronco has a long antenna that needs to be removed before entering a wash, especially a touch car wash. The factory antenna can be removed with your hands by twisting the base lose. If the antenna is stuck or you cannot remove it with your hands, use rubberized pliers or pliers that are gentle on plastic surfaces. An even better solution is to buy a low-profile antenna like the Stubby antenna pictured above. I left my Stubby antenna on and proceeded into the wash.
Leftover Soap Residue on Soft Top
Here is the number one problem when taking a soft-top bronco through a drive-through car wash… leftover soap residue. This leftover soap was on the driver and passenger side canvas just underneath where the top canvas velcros/connects to the window sides.
There was also leftover soap under the canvas along all four doors where the canvas wraps over the window seals.
Cleaning at Home
You’ll have to clean the soft top once you get home, regardless of which car wash you go through.
If you plan on taking your Bronco through a drive-through wash, know it’s not an in-and-out situation. There is more work that needs to be done after the fact. After getting the Bronco home, I cleaned off the leftover soap residue on the canvas using clean water and then air-dried using the blower.
To really answer the question…
Can you take your soft-top Bronco through a drive-through car wash?
Yes, but not without taking it home and doing a once-over to ensure there’s no leftover soap on the soft top.
I use a touch carwash monthly. Soft top… no issues. No soak residue. The soft top holds water so I do get some water streaks for the top dripping when I drive off, but that’s fixed with a little spray detailer when I get home.
The issue is not leaking or soap residue when it comes to the top, it is the pressure used. Over time – at least with my Jeep and Jaguar soft top experiences – the pressure breaks down the top material which hastens the aging and eventual compromise. This takes place over time, but given what we know about the quality of Ford’s tops, I would not do it. Use a pressure wand on the body and top, but back way off when spraying the top.
I take mine through the car wash regularly, 22 Big Bend soft top and have had big touch free and brushes and had no issues with antenna, top, mirrors, or windows. I might just be a lucky one though. Thanks for the story.