The computer-driven wash tunnel at Carisma Wash scours vehicles in four minutes or fewer, but that doesn't mean cutting corners. In fact, during the brief cycles, a parade of mild, wet, and grease-cutting soaps coat the body, tires, and windows of cars four times or as many as it takes to remove hitchhikers from the roof rack. Wheels covered with soft cloth gently scrub grime while passengers stay comfortably seated inside.
Washes range from the basic Touch It Up to The Ultimate, which encompasses everything from UV protectant to an undercarriage scrub. After an air dry, customers emerge and grab self-service vacuums to free interiors of crumbs and nephews who fell between the seats. Employees stand by their handiwork, granting patrons a free wash if they're not satisfied after their first spin.
There's a reason why owner Bill Lawrence decided to set Bubbles Hand Car Wash apart with upscale services and a pleasant ambiance. As Lawrence relayed to Allison Wollam of the Houston Business Journal, he was charmed by a clean, welcoming car wash he visited shortly after moving to Texas from New York, where car washes typically charged a convenience fee to any customer who smiled. Lawrence knew he could cater better to luxury car owners like himself with a conveyerized hand-wash system that combined the convenience of the tunnel model with the hands-on meticulousness of a traditional hand wash. His idea has caught on with some very high-profile customers. Houston Texans linebacker Mister Alexander trusts his ride to the skilled hands of Bubbles’ technicians, as do Houston Rockets players Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny Smith, not to mention former president George Bush.
Even patrons without a Porsche or a professional sports career appreciate Bubbles' gentle lamb's wool mitt washes and eco-friendly soaps, sealers, waxes, and conditioners, as proven by the business’s 2010 and 2012 Houston A-List awards for Best Car Wash. Customers seem to be as taken with the company’s facilities as they are with its services; each lobby invites relaxation with free WiFi, a bemusing gift shop, and shoe shines so effective that patrons need only stand beside their vehicle to check its undercarriage. The community-conscious car washes also use less than a quarter of the water typically expended during a home wash, and the locations offer free car washes for military personnel on Veterans Day.
A team of vehicle virtuosos performs repairs and upkeep on Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge autos in River Oaks' professional dealership shop. During a standard oil change, certified mechanics will replace old, worn-out oil with up to 5 quarts of fresh-faced young fluid, straight from lubricant college and ready to take on the heat, dust, and incredible pressures of today's high-octane internal-combustion world. Synthetic oil is available for an additional charge. To help new oil adjust to its new job of safeguarding precious moving parts, gaskets, and various shafts, a fresh oil filter is included. After a rigorous 27-point auto inspection to ensure engines run smoothly and important parts are shipshape, the 20-minute chariot checkup is complete. River Oaks offers early and late pickup and drop-off to accommodate drivers' schedules and ensure cars aren’t late to parade-float practice.
The crew at Soap Hand Car Wash employs deep-nap mitts and a three-bucket technique that uses less than 10 gallons of water per wash. From Bucket 1 they pull amber-colored lamb's wool mitts and scrub wheels, tires, bumpers, undersides, and other gritty areas. Then they strap on white synthetic-wool mitts from Bucket 2 to clean the paint. Bucket 3 holds clean water, which the detailers use to rinse out the white mitts before dunking them in fresh soap and cleaning the paint a second time. Their special yellow sponges (made by Pinnacle) remove bugs without messing up the finish, and their terry towels (white for windows and painted surfaces; blue for everything else) leave all cars—including Maseratis, BMWs, Bentleys, and antique Mercedes-Benzes—dry and swirl-free.
Soap’s detailers build wonders on that three-bucket foundation. Dressings spiff up leather, tires, and wheels. Shampoo cleanses carpets. Orbital buffers add shine, and vacuums scoop up interior crumbs before they rot and conspire to poison the Garfield window cling. Wax upgrades are available, including handcrafted premium carnauba Lusso Oro wax and Pinnacle Souverän show-car wax.
While they wait, drivers can sip complimentary coffee or access free WiFi in the waiting room, which is equipped with flat-screen TVs. A kids' area entertains youngsters as they dream up ways to retain the lot price of their Matchbox cars.:m]]
At Shine Auto Spa Midtown, technicians add a personal touch to every car wash, beginning each one with a hand wash. After that, they restore vehicles' sheen by removing dirt on the surface, from within door panels, air vents, and cup holders, or embedded in the upholstery. Detailing services go even further, adding hand waxes, carpet shampoos, and high-gloss exterior compounds to help cars relive how clean and innocent they were before they were allowed to date garbage trucks.
The techs at Dream's & Bros Hand Car Wash lavish each ride with careful attention along with potent soaps and soft lambswool mitts. Each wash package includes a hand-drying, interior vacuuming, and a glass cleaning. The washes can be upgraded with add-ons such as a double dose of clear-coat conditioner, a wheel magic treatment, or rust protection.
In addition to wash packages, the techs at Dream's & Bros can also clean leather with saddle soap, scrub down vinyl convertible tops, and detail cars inside and out with waxes and dash dressing.
A complimentary shuttle can drop drivers off anywhere within a five-mile radius, or patrons can wait in the "office away from home"-style waiting room, which is stocked with business essentials such as coffee, wi-fi, fax machines, and novelty ties.