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.
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]]
Every car is different, but they all look good after a fresh wash. The technicians at South Beach Auto Spa keep that in mind, delivering expert detailing services while taking the extra steps needed to protect vehicles. On top of traditional hand wash and wax services, the staff offers three- and five-stage polishing that buffs out nicks, scratches, water spots, or hood paintings of Princess Leia. Techs even use different wash sponges on the wheels than on the body, ensuring that sponges don't pick up the brake dust that can scratch a car's paint finish.
One of only a few local shops lucky enough to carry 3M products, South Beach Auto Spa also protects auto interiors with tint-installation services. Customers can gauge the potential appearance of different tinting films through a simulator, opting for color-stable, crystalline, or premium films. All tinting films are digitally cut using software and a Roland plotter, and help fend off UV rays and adverse temperatures while increasing each auto's security and appearance.
It's not an illusion that the light looks much brighter at the end of BlueWave Express' tunnel. After all, a lot of dirt and grime has been removed from the windshield by the time the car and its driver emerge from the three-minute automated cleaning system, which aims to return vehicles to as close to showroom-quality appearance as possible. It takes 125 feet of conveyer belt and high-tech apparatus to achieve that goal. Cleaning foams, waxes, and ultra-soft cloths all work in tandem to remove debris, before purified water and powerful dryers leave cars with a spot-free shine.
The entire process should leave car owners with warm feelings in their own?carburetors?and not just because of their autos' fresh new gleam. BlueWave Express has a strong commitment to the environment as a certified water saver. The company uses eco-friendly products in addition to conserving water through a reclamation system.
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.
The techs at Sparkles Carwash do more than just polish autos and vacuum interiors clean. They also aim to make your visit more convenient by performing oil changes, state inspections, and headlight restorations. However, it's the wash and detail services that really evidence their skills. During full-service washes, the crew uses products such as clear-coat conditioners and triple-foam wax to protect paint jobs and revive the shine. Detailing packages provide more intensive cleanings that have the staff shampooing carpets and blowing dust and debris out of the vehicle's nooks and crannies, including that cookie jar that some people insist on calling a glove box.