David Howcroft’s car got one hell of a cleaning on July 1 at the Wash & Shine at 5020 Wisconsin Ave. NW: The 2000 Volkswagen Passat sustained $634 worth of bumper, panel, and tire damage.

An employee took Howcroft to the mangled vehicle, which appeared to have been backed out still covered in soap, and told the American University Park resident he “must have run over a nail.” Howcroft, in filing a subsequent police report, says he heard from a cop that an Audi had suffered a flat tire at the business the day before. After complaining on the Internet, he also received five e-mails from neighbors laying out similar tales of wash and woe.

“The problems with this car wash date back a long time,” says Maureen Miller, who about five years ago had her Chevy Blazer roll out of the wash and into traffic, where another car butted it into a line of parked cars. “That was pretty traumatic.”

Wash & Shine Manager Hans Grasser says Howcroft didn’t follow up on an offer to cover at least some of the cost?”He never got back to us, that’s basically the story”?but a Wash & Shine representative recently offered to pay for all damage except the panel scratches.

Those, his letter asserts, were Howcroft’s own fault for having bought “an used car.”