Nissan Uses Mini Car Wash to Test Paint

This tiny car wash gives Nissan's paints a thorough torture test before they're deployed to the real world.

There are some cars that we almost expect to have battered paint. White Chrysler products from the 1990s were notorious for their paint flaking off. Some General Motors vans have also suffered from this to a lesser extent. But the only Nissan I’ve ever seen with bad paint was my 1991 Sentra SE-R, half of which had been rattle-canned before I got it—clearly not Nissan’s fault.

Nissan showed off a unique machine that may be the smallest car wash in the world. It consists of a single small brush that spins at 180 rpm. Some people specifically avoid car washes like this to prevent their paint from getting scratched up by the bristles. Nissan paints small metal plates the same way a car would be painted, then runs them through the wash for many, many cycles.

But no one takes a clean car to the car wash. In between wash cycles engineers add what they call “Arizona test dirt,” a particularly abrasive compound that gets washed off the sample—without soap.

Nissan put a model 370Z in the mini wash for demonstration purposes but uses flat metal plates for testing. If the paint holds up to countless cycles of dirt and bristles, it’s good enough for the real world (or a galaxy far, far away). This may be why I almost never see a Nissan with bad paint.

Justin Hughes

Well, except for my old Sentra SE-R.