How To Wash The Bulli

Been busy trying to figure out how to wash Seeingland. Reason? I was confused by various sources whether or not I could put the van in an automated car wash. There are a few issues Bulli owners need to consider when washing their vehicles.

  1. The size of the van, especially it’s height (198cm)
  2. The side mirrors
  3. The awning, which increases the vans height by about 2cm
  4. Bike rack

When I asked at different gas stations they all adamantly warned me that 1) they are not responsible for damage to the van, especially the awning, large side mirrors, bike rack, and 2) I’m responsible for damage to their car wash if, say, something gets caught on the awning. WTF! As a new and somewhat anxious Bulli owner I’ve held back on going for this. Instead I’ve power-washed her a few times. The problem with power-washing, though, is… Well… I guess I’m just lazy. It really is a big vehicle to wash and spraying alone does not thoroughly clean it. I never use those brushes at power wash stations for fear they will scratch her. Also. For a thorough power-wash you need some extra equipment that includes a ladder if you’re gonna wash the top. And so. The other day after a quick and disappointing lazy power-wash, I ran into a fellow Bulli owner at a hardware store where I was trying NOT to buy cleaning utensils to help make power-washing easier. The fellow Bulli owner provided two great tips.

Tip one: Just put it in one of those gas station stationary car wash-ports. Check for height clearance. Don’t use one of those carwash lines–the ones that pull the vehicle along.

Tip two: Read the manual.

Die Markise braucht für die Fahrzeugwäsche in einer Waschstraße nicht abgebaut werden. Die Markise muss komplett eingefahren und gesichert sein.

The awning does not need to be removed for washing the vehicle in a car wash. The awning must be completely retracted and secured.

The Manual (translation mine)

I have to admit, fellow Vanlifer, reading VW manuals is not unlike reading the textbook from a college level statistics course. And even though my German ain’t bad, this stuff is tough to get through. As you can see in the pic above, there is only an Information notice which is not referenced anywhere in table of contents or the manual’s index. The Information notice, as you can read, doesn’t really indicate that you can use a car wash–does it? It simply says the awning doesn’t need to be removed. Ok. I guess that covers it. Or?

I took the advice of the fellow Bulli owner. The height restriction of the car wash was 2.6meters. I folded up the side mirrors and drove her in. I turned on the car wash and stood by the emergency cut-off button and watched–anxiously. Wow, I thought. Even with the mirrors folded up there is very little clearance. When the wash brush reached the awning I raised my hand over the emergency cut-off button. There is a distinct sound coming from the awning being washed compared to the rest of the van, which was a bit nerve wracking. The whole wash cycle, including drying, only took a few minutes. Relief!

One last thought. Although one can obviously put the Bulli in a car wash, it’s not a comfortable undertaking. Most gas stations have these car washes in Germany and if I use a different one next time, I’m gonna be just as anxious–with my hand by the emergency cut-off button. Hopefully I don’t have to think about power washing it anymore.

Vanlife on.


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