Automatic Car Wash Destroys Aluminum F-150 Antenna

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Sometimes we need to get our trucks clean quickly. There’s a nearby car wash that you can go to for cheap. You pay your money, enter the bay, and suddenly the car wash gashes a big hole in your truck?

Over on our sister forum, user “dtibbals” had that very thing happen to him. He went to a car wash that was not touchless, and the car wash literally caught his antenna and ripped it off the truck. Would this have happened on a steel pickup truck? Probably not in the same way.


According to the thread starter, his insurance company picked up the repair cost at $6,000 and is going after the car wash to collect. Apparently there were no disclaimers at the car wash about antennas or about users entering at their own risk. He also intends to go to small claims court to get reimbursed for his deductible.

The lesson to be learned here is not that Ford screwed up by switching their truck to aluminum. They did so for a variety of very good reasons, and while there have been some fringe cases of the aluminum tearing, it’s usually driver error that caused the damage, and that the accident would’ve still taken place with a steel truck (even if the damage would be different).


The lesson learned is that you shouldn’t take your truck to a touch car wash. If you must, be sure to remove your antenna before entering the wash bay. Most automatic car washes have a sign reminding you to do just that, and many will say you enter at your own risk.

You shouldn’t have to worry at a touchless wash, even though many have the same warning. In fact, I went to a touchless wash just yesterday with a 2016 F-150 press truck we have in the review garage this week and didn’t have an issue.

Also remember that the touch car washes is how you truck gets swirl marks.

This problem does bring up an interesting issue, though. While cars have long gone to integrated antennas in the vehicle, or in a shark fin on the roof, pickup trucks continue to use fixed big antennas. Considering the abuse many pickup trucks get during the course of a normal day, it’d seem a more durable solution — like that found on cars — would make even more sense on a pickup truck.


Until that day happens, remember to take your antenna off before entering a car wash. If you have the time, hand wash your truck. Heck, leave your truck dirty so people know it actually sees work. Trucks look better when they’re caked with mud and dirt anyway.

What do you all think? Is he responsible for the damage to his truck or should the car wash be? Is this a failure in the aluminum construction or does it even matter? Let us know what you think in the comments below or over in our forums!

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Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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