Mr. Clean Auto Dry - "sorta" good idea, lousy execution

I picked up one today, filled it with the detergent and had a mess on my hands (literally). The flimsy cover for the detergent reservoir didn't prevent spillage of the expensive and messy concentrated detergent. I returned it to the store for a refund, after first ascertaining that another unit suffered from the same problem.
I know the thing will leave a spotless finish, but after buying the unit, extra detergent and deionizer cartridge, I expect more quality for my money and less hassle from it's usage. I'll stick to conventional methods of wet, soap, rinse, towel dry. With my luck, I'd most likely drop the thing on the driveway and watch it burst into 500 pieces. Maybe Mr. Clean Auto Dry is a solution looking for a problem.
If you have smallish hands, the handle will be uncomfortable. I wear extra large gloves, so for me it's not an issue, but folks with small to medium sized hands should give Auto Dry a "test drive" before wasting their money.
BTW, they suggest you wash in the shade, and don't use any detergent but their super expensive concoction. AND you will not get much water flow when you use the deionized water for rinsing. If you are short and have a tall vehicle like a van or SUV, forget about getting the wimpy stream to reach the roof unless you are standing on a ladder.
David
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David wrote:

I've never had much luck with any of those car wash gimmicks. Water powered spinning brushes or spinning felt pads, static brushes that attach to hoses, etc. All of which waste water (unless you don't attach the hose). Like you, I always go back to the basics. Wet down, wash with car wash soap and towel (or brush), rinse, and dry with chamois. I am still using a 10 year old chamois that is made by Speedo, and used by swimmers to dry off after swimming competitions. I still use the old Simonize paste car wax, which shine actually does last a whole year.

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Bill, I didn't know that people used chamois's on themselves!
I like "KISS" methods too. Simoniz takes a lot of elbow grease; I use NuFinish and other easy to apply waxes. Most don't last long though.
David
Bill Schnakenberg wrote:

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David wrote:

My daughter was on the swim team in HS. We bought it at a local sports store that specialized in competitive swimming attire and equipment. After she graduated, the Speedo went into the garage with the other car care stuff. Maybe it wasn't chamois, but it looked, acted, and felt like it. Not like that imitation crap that is sold in auto parts stores that sheds after a few uses, and you then have to dust off all those orange flakes.

That's why I use Simonize. Applied once a year, rather than 2 or 3 times a year with the other quick stuff. I Simonized my truck last summer, and a quick summer shower just passed through here. The water on the hood on my truck (which is the first place for the wax to disappear) is still beading and running off.

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I worded this wrong: " I wear > extra large gloves, so for me it's not an issue, " I meant I have extra large HANDS--I don't wear gloves while washing my vehicles. :)
David
David wrote:

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On Tue, 17 Aug 2004 21:03:04 -0700, David wrote:

<snip>
I'm having some luck with adding baking soda to the wash bucket before adding any detergent. I had expected it to only soften the water (exchange potassium- and calcium- junk for sodium- junk). I thought it would only help the detergent work a little better, but it seems to help lower the surface tension of the rinse water also, causing it to sheen a little more and form less droplets.
Regards, Scott
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Scott, I'd never heard of that. I'll look into it. Do you think it will affect the wax? Thanks.
David
Scott Packard wrote:

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On Wed, 18 Aug 2004 11:28:37 -0700, David wrote:

I don't think it will. I'm adding it for the purpose of softening the hard water here. I find I have to wax with 3M automotive wax about every 3 or 4 months without adding the baking soda. I haven't been using it long enough to know by experience if it affects the wax. Mostly, I think my wax is rubbed off during the weekly wash and dry anyway.
Another thing I like is the microfiber towels. They sell them at Costco now. Use one to do the first pass when drying, and a second one to follow right after the first one. Ring the first one out when it leaves water behind. I can dry two cars with just the two towels. It used to take me about eight cotton bar towels.
Regards, Scott
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I have bought all of the piece of shit "car wash" items over the yrs trying to make the job easier...Bottom line...Hand wash your car (if you care about it) hand dry with soft cloths or towels and hand wax.
Ok, to wax with a buffer if you know what you are doing.....orbitals are the best....They are cheap at Sears, come in a bucket with carwash, wax, and pads.
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We bought one and tried it this past weekend. We liked it!
--
Wayne in Phoenix

unmunge as w-e-b
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It didn't leak detergent from the reservoir? I looked at a couple of them and can say that the lids wouldn't stay on either. If you Google on the subject you'll see plenty of other complaints along the same line.
David
Wayne wrote:

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We bought two of them..One for us, loved it and bought one for my mom..Neither one of them have the problem you mention..It doesn't replace the action of washing the car, just the tedious job of drying..We have two dark colored cars and they both come out perfect...Maybe yours was from a bad batch? I too have tried a lot of those "gimmicky" washers in the past and they all ended up in the trash but I think the Mr. Clean one is good..Even though you have to replace the filter and use the soap they sell, I find the soap works very well... John

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I bought one and haven't had the problem with the detergent cover staying on.

I agree with the fine mist. Consumer Reports did a review on it:
A spotless car wash without hand-drying
HANDS OFF The Mr. Clean AutoDry system, which attaches to a garden hose, includes a detergent dispenser and a cartridge to filter and deionize the water. We tested the Mr. Clean AutoDry and found it to be an effective aid in preventing water spots and eliminating the chore of hand-drying your vehicle after a wash.
Water spots form when droplets evaporate from a vehicle's exterior and leave behind mineral deposits. Those spots are worse in hard-water areas. To prevent them after hand-washing, the vehicle should be meticulously dried with a cloth or chamois.
Eliminating hand-drying does more than save labor: Hairline scratches, or swirl marks, can be introduced by small pieces of dirt caught in the cloth.
How it works
The AutoDry attaches to a garden hose and has a built-in detergent dispenser, a water filter/deionizer cartridge, and a dial that switches washing modes. You start by removing loose dirt using plain water. Switching to the detergent mode lets you wash the car with suds without a soap bucket; there's no need to rinse your cloth or sponge in dirty wash water, which can also result in paint scratches. Use plain water again to rinse. Switch to the final-rinse mode, which filters the water and deionizes it, removing dissolved minerals. The deionization and the proprietary detergent, which the company says leaves a polymeric film on the vehicle, combine to sheet off the water quickly. The remaining water should then evaporate without leaving deposits.
What we found
We purchased and tested several of the AutoDry devices and had 10 staffers use them to wash 19 vehicles. Most reported very few or no water spots after use, even in areas with hard water. Six of the 10 said it did a better or much better job than their normal washing method, while 3 said it was about the same. It removed both light and heavy road dirt, but dried-on bugs required scrubbing. As is typical with conventional hand-washing, road tar was hard to remove and needed treatment with tar remover.
Minor gripes focused on the AutoDry's handle, which is a bit large for smaller hands, and the mode-selector valve, which is stiff to turn. In deionizing mode, the spray is very fine, so it's most effective when held about a foot from the vehicle.
We paid an average of $24 for the AutoDry. Replacement filter/deionizer cartridges and detergent bottles cost us an average of $7.66 and $6.66 per unit, respectively. The deionizer has a visual indicator that alerts you when the cartridge needs replacement. The company says a cartridge will last about 10 washes, which we verified; some users will get more washes, others fewer, depending on the hardness of the water and how they use the AutoDry. The cost of using it is about $1.40 per wash.
Bottom line
If your vehicle's appearance isn't a concern or you don't mind hand-drying, you might not find the AutoDry worth the cost. But if you want to save some elbow grease without worrying about water spots, the AutoDry is an effective addition to your car-washing kit.

Shellback
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