THE BRONX - An investigation by the New York state Department of Labor revealed that car wash workers throughout the city have been exploited for years by their employers.

As a part of the probe, the DOL randomly inspected 84 car washes, including several in Brooklyn. Officials say in 78 percent of the businesses that have been visited, employees were paid less than the minimum wage and denied overtime.

?While you?re getting your car washed, those employees are being taken for a ride,? says New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Patricia Smith.

According to records going back six years, 1,300 car wash employees are owed a total of $6.5 millions.

?I work 60 hours a week, [and] I was only getting paid for 46 hours regular,? says Grethel Santana.

Santana adds that aside of being underpaid by her employer, she and her co-workers were forced to share their tips with the managers.

The Department of Labor says this is the last warning to car wash owners.

?If you?re a car wash owner that is currently out of compliance, my message to you is: ?If you stay out of compliance, we will find you,?? Smith says.

Officials will be revisiting the same car washes in the future, and if they are found violating the law, the DOL will file for criminal prosecution.