I have taken my car to an auto wash on occasion do to lack of time or appropriate comfortable weather to wash my car myself... I think there may be reasons not to but getting something on your intercooler should'nt be one of them... it's just a metal heat sink... it will not hurt anything to get it wet.
Never take it to automatic car washes. It will scratch you car. Plus they recycle the water which can leave particles in the water to harm your paint. Also ever notice what kind of towels they use? Not a good idea.
During the winter time I find I have to take it to the auto wash, but I only take it to a non-brush car wash. Its to cold to wash my car by hand, and I couldn't do it even if I wanted to, the hose is frozen. So I find it better to get it washed by just soap and water then leaving the salt and sand and everything else on the car for weeks.
And who says I let them touch my car w/ their ratty towels? I'll go through the blow dry then bring it home stick it in the heated garage and let it air dry the rest of the way during the winter... but yeah Kanos is right it's a million times better than leaving the salt caked to it all the time as there is at least 3" of salt on the roads at all times here.
I will end up washing it myself during summer, but have had no problem with the touchfree carwashes during winter. Gets off the salt and grit and the only thing that I've had touch my car is water. Unfortunately, I've only had my car for this winter so far and have been unable to do it myself because of the cold and lack of time. It's best to go to a touchfree car wash if you have to so that no actual brush will touch your car. That's just my opinion though
HAHAHA...yeah, kinda like a engine detail without having to open the hood
sexyrex, nothing will happen to the engine if you get water/soap in the hood scoop. The water/soap will just flow through the intercooler, over the back of the engine/tranny, and drip to the ground. No harm done.