Every season bequeaths our traveling homes road grime, bugs and dirt. In dry desert climes, our diesel pusher tends to get dirty quite often. When our home on wheels is caked in dust, it gets a hands-on bath – the kind of TLC that would make Mr. Miyagi proud of his “wax on, wax off” exercise. But when traveling, sometimes the road grime and bug guts buildup requires a quick wash. It’s not so much a pocketbook decision; it’s usually one of expediency. Washing one’s RV in any season is time-consuming. But during the summer, it’s a lot more fun to be enjoying the therapeutics of swimming in the water than spraying the coach.
Muddied it up
Last spring, at a park with no concrete or blacktop, a windy rainstorm stirred up a lot of dirt. The next morning our coach looked like we drove through mud puddles with dirt spots half-way up each side. Since we were leaving, we didn’t have time to wash it. Rather, we located a truck wash along our route and decided to try it. We pulled into a large bay with our tow vehicle attached, as the cashier remarked they would wash that too.
Using pressure washing lines, two washers attacked, one on each side like ants to a piece of discarded fruit. Long brushes and spray wands delivered their bubbly foam. After the rinse, my spouse walked around while our coach drip-dried before driving out of the bay. It appeared clean.
A few hours later we arrived at our destination. After setting up, my spouse opened the front slide to retrieve a tool. The passenger side was now shaded as he noticed dark splotchy areas mid-coach. He called me to come outside and look. I walked around the entire coach and was surprised to see dark splotches as well. The only thought we could deduce was the truck wash used a detergent that affected the paint. It was disappointing, as my spouse had spent a Miyagi-proud week hand compounding, washing and waxing the entire rig. The affected side looked like an ugly duckling, neglected after years in someone’s backyard in the middle of Arizona’s desert. It went from looking spectacular to murky in a matter of minutes.
Sage advice from a long-haul driver about truck washes
Across the lane, a retired long-haul driver sitting outside overheard our conversation and walked over to where we were standing. Joining our conversation, he interjected, “The darkening was most likely caused by the truck wash.” My spouse turned and asked him, “What caused this?” He stated that in his years of cross-country transport, he had this happen to him and learned quickly. He said that when livestock haulers get their rig washed, they specifically want the trailer cleaned with a harsh chemical to get the poop and stink out. Then he asked, “Were you behind one of those rigs?” My spouse said, “Yeah, next in line. And it stunk like hell.”
Live and learn
After discussing more with the neighbor, he helped us understand that what appeared to have happened was that one of the washers did not flush the wand and hose full of the acid-based detergent used to clean and sanitize trucks that haul chickens, cattle or pigs. Or the washer may have not switched back to the standard vehicle detergent. Or perhaps just the one sprayer line was pre-rinsed and cleaned, the other not. It was our unlucky day.
Investigating the plight
The next morning my spouse contacted the truck wash to learn more about what chemical(s) were used so he could effectively redress the blotchy areas. The office staff was not interested in discussing the problem and would pass a message on to the manager.
Later that afternoon, the manager called my spouse to inform him that he personally watched the film of the brown motorhome being washed and everything was done correctly. It was not their fault or problem. My spouse replied, “Gee, that’s interesting since our motorhome is silver and gray.” The manager hung up and a stalemate ensued. So much for customer service…
So, my spouse spent a few more days exfoliating the stains with Meguiar’s polishing compound and hours of buffing wax on and wax off.
Not an isolated incident at this truck wash
After sharing our story with other full-timer friends, we were informed that ours was not an isolated incident. Their motorhome was one year old when they visited a truck wash and left with a milky residue all over their new rig. They were livid, to say the least. Regardless of the nomenclature, describing the outcome of each of our experiences at a truck wash, they reported they had their motorhome detailed, costing them about $400.
The caveat: Don’t assume – Ask
First and foremost, don’t follow a poopy truck into the truck wash! Rather, be forthright to the washers before they begin spraying your rig and ask them to flush/clean the spray lines before applying the appropriate detergent to your rig. The new best friend told us he regularly asks the washers each time as a matter of habit. Trust, but verify!