Nissan Tech Center develops miniature car wash for paint testing

Nissan engineers test paint samples in scaled-down car wash to ensure exterior paint holds up the demands of modern car wash

Do you still remember the days when you own either a Hot Wheels or a Matchbox Car Wash playset that has little foam rollers and detailing station? Well, engineers from Nissan has brought it back to life by making a popcorn machine-sized car wash that will serve as a tool in developing paint for the Japanese company’s production cars.

Nissan Technical Center North America in Michigan developed a highly specialized miniature car wash equipped with a spinning brush that has vibrant blue bristles, allowing engineers to test paint samples to make sure Nissan’s exterior paints can hold up to the tough environment of automatic car washes.

Long before a Nissan ends up on dealer lots, engineers have made sure that every shade of exterior paint will stay looking great, even if a customer frequently takes his Altima or 370Z through the rigors of an automatic car wash.

To mimic an automatic wash cycle, Nissan's miniature car wash spins the brush at around 180 rpm, causing the bristles to harshly slap the paint sample as water jets spray and "Arizona dirt" replicates the harsh and abrasive real world.

In the images, the red 1:16 scale model of the 370Z is for illustrative purposes only, but in actual testing, Nissan paint is applied to rectangular plates, which are placed into the miniature car wash and tested multiple times to ensure a top-quality finish that lasts.