PEARLAND, Texas - A Pearland man says he and his fiancé were terrified when he says an automatic car wash smashed their windshield while they were inside the car. Car wash managers say it was due to a power surge.
Accidents happen in car washes from time to time. Cars can be damaged, and in some cases, drivers or employees have been seriously hurt, even killed. Safety in car washes is more important than you might think.
"I began slamming on the horn, hoping the car wash would stop the machine as it came closer and closer to crushing us," said driver Ben Walker.
Walker showed us pictures of his cracked windshield, saying it happened while going through the iShine Express Car Wash on Business Center Drive in Pearland.
"Before we knew it, we saw the brush pushing through the glass, coming toward us. It was a really terrifying experience," he said.
After he honked the horn, Walker says employees came to help.
"The car wash pulled out the brush. But what made things worse, they sent the car, it completed the wash, unfortunately, with the water on, causing close to $10,000 in damage to my vehicle," Walker said.
iShine managers say the accident was due to a power surge, but say their video shows Walker also hit the brakes. Walker disputes that, saying he followed the instructions.
iShine says they repaired the windshield and filed an insurance claim for Walker. Walker says the insurance company wasn't meeting his damage estimates until we started investigating, and is now reassessing its offer.
We asked iShine to show us the video they have of the accident and to show us on camera their safety protocols or advice to use a car wash safely. They declined, but sent this statement:
"ishine management takes customer safety and the care of their property very seriously and have emergency drills with the staff on weekly basis to ensure proper measures are ready to be taken for any unforeseen issues. Our dedicated onsite maintenance tech checks safety measures by walking through the vehicle tunnel multiple times a day. We continue to educate our staff and customers on safety measures and we ask everyone to always pay attention while they are going through the wash. We ask the customers to please honk if they experience any issues so our staff can immediately follow our emergency protocol and, if necessary, to stop the wash completely to address any issues or concerns. Furthermore, if any customers don't feel safe going through the wash, we offer to take the car through the wash for them. Customer safety, care of their property, and customer service remains our top priority."
To go through automatic car wash safely, experts say do the following:
- Put your vehicle in park if it has an automatic transmission, or neutral if it has a manual transmission,
- Don't apply the emergency brake, and keep your foot off the brake, even if a problem develops.
- Many newer model cars with automatic braking require special steps or to be set on car wash mode.