A businessman told today how a supermarket car wash malfunctioned and picked up his two-tonne Mercedes 4×4 – causing £4,000 worth of damage.
Stunned Robert Clarke, 44, says the machine acted like ”something out of Terminator” when the giant drying arm slammed into the bonnet.
It then lifted up the car ”like a giant hairdryer on a killing spree” and Robert was forced to jump out of the vehicle and hit the emergency stop button.
He said: ”What it did was just unbelievable. It just didn’t stop. It just jammed into the car and lifted the car up with me in it.
”It was like a battle between the weight of my car and the electronic motor and then I could smell burning.
”I’m really shaken up. It was like something out of Terminator. It was like a giant hairdryer that was on a killing spree, I was absolutely petrified.”
The drama began when Robert, who owns an IT software company, visited the car wash at Sainsbury’s in Swindon, Wilts., as he went to pick up his kids from school.
The £5.50 cycle started as normal but the machine malfunctioned when the drying arm descended and started inching towards his bonnet.
Instead of automatically lifting up and over his Mercedes ML320, it slammed straight into it and started bending the bonnet backwards.
Robert, of Swindon, said: ”I just thought ‘Oh my goodness, what’s it going to do?’.
”I thought next thing it could come through the bonnet and through the windscreen and with that I just thought ‘get out’.”
He managed to jump out of the car as it was mid-air and ran to the emergency stop button.
The machine suddenly ground to a halt and dropped the 10-year-old car, which was then taken away by Robert’s insurance company and is expected to be a write-off.
Robert added that he regularly uses car washes, but it was his first one at the Sainsbury’s store – who did not offer to refund him the £5.50 cost of the wash.
Nick Scott, duty manager at Sainsbury’s confirmed there had been an accident which the company is now investigating.
He said: ”The customer was a bit irate and a little bit shaken up by the incident. We are speaking to our legal team.
”Our priority is to get his car back to him and get him back on the road as quickly as possible.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson added: ”Following a technical problem with the car wash at our Bridgemead store, the bonnet on Mr Clarke’s car was damaged.
”The car wash has been closed and will remain so until we have fully investigated. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to Mr Clarke.”