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Does anybody ever remove the antenna anymore when going through a car wash? Maybe not since the invention of the touch-less car wash. However, a few places still hold on to the old-fashioned, break-your-antenna-right-off style car washes.

Actron’s universal antenna wrench fits most antenna bezel nuts and supposedly won’t damage them whether they’re on a foreign or domestic vehicle. The steel antenna wrench can be found for as little as $10. This wrench would be a great courtesy tool for them to have on a rope right outside the entrance to the old-style car washes. Failing that, you could throw it in your glove box for the next time you run into one of these places.

Antenna Wrench [Actron]
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12 Responses to Universal Antenna Wrench

  1. techieman33 says:

    Anyone stupid enough to use one of those car washes deserves to have their antenna broken off.

  2. Some people, like me, still have family in the boondocks. And sometimes the boondocks don’t have modern car washes, so when I visit, I deign to use what’s available in the rural area where I grew up. Of course, I remember to remove the antenna, but then again, so do most people who live around there.

  3. RM says:

    Does anyone actually remove the antenna before going through a car wash? My 1970 Datsun 240Z had an automatic one that retracted when the radio was turned off. With earlier cars I recall just pushing the antenna down manually.

  4. Bill says:

    “Anyone stupid enough to use one of those car washes deserves to have their antenna broken off.”

    Guess that’s most of us in my city of 200k+. We used to have touchless washes at a few of the gas stations, but they’re all closed. We’re down to three options: old-fashioned touch car washes (some built within the last 3 years), one of the dozens of mobile wash guys who come out to your house or business, or washing the car yourself.

    As for the vehicles, neither of mine have antennas that stick up (both are built into the glass) but one of the brand-new 2009 vehicles at the non-profit I volunteer had has an old-fashioned manual antenna. We have a wrench in the glove box just for this purpose.

  5. Steve says:

    That bezel wrench is for replacing the whole antennae assembly, as in removing the works from inside the fender. Taking the antennae whip off before entering a carwash only requires a small regular wrench.

  6. techieman33 says:

    It doesn’t matter how new the touch washes are, they’re still doing serious damage to your cars paint. Putting millions of small scratches in the clear coat every time you go through it.

  7. @Steve: Thanks for the correction.

    That would make a whole lot more sense. I even looked at both my and my wife’s vehicle before I posted this. We both have hex shanks on our whips. I was wondering if other cars might have screwy nuts.

    After I read your comment I took a look under my hood and really can’t figure out how you’d use even this tool on my Silverado.

  8. Phil says:

    This wrench is generally for older cars to remove the escutcheon nut that holds the antenna assembly to the fender, rather than simply unscrewing the whip. These cars mostly had a large chrome stylized “base” on the outside that screwed onto the cable/mount assembly below the fender. You needed this sort of ‘spanner’ to unscrew the big nut. The same was true for automatic antennas the lowered automatically below the fender.

    These days the fender metal is a bit too thin to support an antenna on many cars, so the lower mount is usually bolted onto some manner of under-the-fender bracing, and the outer mount is mostly for sealing and appearance. The whip simply threads on from the outside.

  9. Kurt says:

    I own a car wash, and modern equipment doesn’t scratch cars if properly set up (the right pressure and a constant flow of lubricating water with a touch of soap). In a normal year, I wash 200 to 300 cars a day; if I was scratching them I wouldn’t be in business very long. The wraps (those things that spin around) use a foam material called neoglide that is very soft, unlike the nylon used years ago, which could indeed leave a fine pattern on cars, particularly those not properly waxed..

    You can clean a car two ways; use chemicals or friction. High pressure will blast off dirt but will not remove road film, if you don’t want to touch the you will need to soak it in a more aggressive mixture of high and low ph chemicals to get that sparkling clean look everyone wants after a wash.

    Think about it, when you wash your car yourself, do you just use a high pressure washer, or do you use soap and a mitt? Well, that’s friction. The only difference is that your mitt is not constantly being flooded with lubricating soap and water to make sure particles are not trapped in it; these are what causes scratches.

    Wheels are even tougher. Many car washes use a chemical known in the industry as HF; Hydroflouric Acid. This is nasty stuff that is very aggressive, but makes aluminum rims shine. The friendlier chemicals are still quite acidic, but safer than HF; these require hand work after the wash for complete cleaning. Leave brake dust on a rim for too long and it’s toast, nothing short of stripping, sanding and repaint/re-chrome or polishing will restore it.

    As for antennas, we recommend lowering or removing those that are not flexible. Every modern car has a removable or power antenna. Some, like Prius’ are rubber mounted and safe in most washes (those with the big descending rotating brushes (“top brush”) are tough on those, as well as windshield wipers, the equipment using thin strips (“mitters”) are easier on those and roof racks but don’t take off bugs as well. At my place we use two guys to prep the car with tri-level hogshair brushes; these are expensive ($ 60 each, and they don’t last very long) but you would have to work hard to damage a car with these.

    The steel whips on fenders are surprisingly tough, but we suggest taking them off to prevent long term metal fatigue. A crescent wrench does the job nicely.

    Oh, and for those of you who don’t want “wax” on your cars…you always get a form of whatever your local wash calls “wax” in the final rinse. Without that the water wouldn’t bead up and blow off the car very well.

    Again modern clearcoat protectants, such as Rain-X or Blue Coral Velocity don’t cause problems (heck they only last 15-25 days at best on the car), so you will not do any harm by getting them. If you get your car washed regularly, they do some good – bugs come off a lot easier, for one.

    Anyway, based on years of experience in the industry, those are my observations.

  10. Old Coot says:

    Kurt: Thanks, learned a lot.

  11. Carl says:

    Washing cars is just a scam, like ironing clothes.

  12. kyle says:

    Whatever you do to wash the car dont use anything containing silicone, if the car ever needs reparied your bodyman will hate you because silicone causes problems during the refinishing process

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