Colonial Car Wash / Salad Bar

colonial carwash

A rinse for cars and leafy greens?

By Dawn Padfield

I don't know how many times I have driven by the Colonial Car Wash on Western Avenue, only to scratch my head in confusion. Under the Colonial sign, there is another sign advertising...wait for it... a free "Salad Bar."

A salad bar at a car wash? Kind of makes you go hmmm, right?

Yeah, me too. So last week, when I was craving some veggies and an express wash, I decided to check it out.

So lets get one thing straight from the beginning -- you can not get a salad at Colonial Car Wash. At least, not salad in the traditional sense of the word. Apparently 'salad bar' in car wash terms means condiments for your car -- stuff like shammy-cloths and multi-purpose cleaner.

I found this out the hard way. When I pulled in to wash my car and order my leafy greens, the attendant on duty kind of looked at me sideways. Really? I mean, the sign clearly says "Salad Bar." Surely I am not the first one to come knocking?

After the disappointment wore off (and yes, I was a little disappointed) I got to thinking about this area's love affair with the car wash.

Here are some things that have amazed me about Capital Region car washes:

The number of them
If there is one thing I have noticed since moving to this area it's that there are car washes EVERYWHERE. Probably, more per capita than in any place that I have ever been (that is my own statistic; please do not try to verify at home). Why so many? Is everyone entering their sedans in weekend monster truck rallies?

Fancy landscaping
The Colonial Car Wash has a pretty little wishing well in the middle of seasonal flowers. I've also seen places with pagodas, words spelled out in landscaping rocks, and fish ponds. Is this a car wash or the Royal Botanical Gardens?

I remember the good ole days where a garden hose, sponge, and bucket would suffice, but not anymore. There are more packages at some of these car washes than you would find in a day spa.

Vending machines
I think this comes from my time in Japan where I would keep a running list of all the things I saw sold in vending machines (cigarettes, comic books, ties, ladies undergarments) but car washes seem to be one of the few places that utilize the myriad possibilities vending machines have to offer. There was a multi-flavored assortment of tree air fresheners, de-fogger, shammies, anti-bug shield, sponges, 'auto-fragrance', spot remover and yes, tire-shine gel.

Anyway, I digress.

The point here was to make sure you knew that you can not, in fact, get a salad at the Colonial Car Wash. But if, after a thorough car washing, you find yourself craving some limp iceberg lettuce and croutons, there is a Pizza Hut right next door.

Find It

Colonial Car Wash
1769 Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203


wow, you really thought you could get salad at a car wash? hmmm. interesting.
anyway, if you have spent even one winter in upstate ny, you would know why there are car washes on every corner. the sand salt and muck from the roads is enough to make my black car white (ok, grey) by mid-january. ick!

That is the stupidest thing... and seems like misleading advertising. I don't think anyone needs to call the Better Business Bureau, but I do think Colonial needs to fire whoever came up with that lame idea.

Ha, this always drove me crazy to the point I pulled on one day and asked what it meant. I thought they were advertising for the Pizza Hut next door.

CapDist's got nothing on Long Island. I am a native Upstater who got marooned on LI for 17 years, now recovering, thankyouverymuch. We may THINK we're getting our cars cleaned but I've yet to find a carwash here that'll get my car as clean as it gets on LI (not that that makes me long for it in any way). I can't think of a single carwash on LI that doesn't also have a platoon of guys hand drying, tire shining, wheel detailing and inside window cleaning (and accepting tips) after the car emerges. This isn't extra, it's de rigueur!

What they don't have tho, are do-it-youselfers and they also make you pay for gas before pumping, if you can find a station that doesn't pump it for you. Says a lot about that culture.


Dawn, I wouldn't have even second guessed that sign, and would have totally assumed that there was a salad bar on site for me to eat from while my car was being cleaned. Only now do I realize the ridiculousness of that idea. Thank you for sparing me future humiliation, embarrassment and disappointment.

Shows how observant I am. I live practically next door and never even noticed the sign (unless I thought it was for Pizza Hut).

Yeah I figured if you bought a car wash you got a free coupon for a salad bar at Pizza Hut. Who knew!

Funny, I've washed my car there several times and never even noticed...I think it would be a novel idea to serve salad. Definitely not making the connection to a plethora of automotive novelty items.

So, what actually you can get for free there? And where that stuff is?

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