There are four basic types of car washing equipment
Each has its own market segment and can be presented separately or combined in one facility.
Car washes of all types use a range of pressure water systems combined with a range of car wash chemicals applied in processes dependant on the type of equipment being used.
To maximise water efficiency, automatic equipment is normally linked to a recycling system which enables the car wash water to be reclaimed, cleaned and reused.
Car wash sites have often become more than a simple wash service and are frequently morphing into broader car wash-based retail destinations. The modern car wash site will often have vacuums, dog washes, laundry facilities, vending islands, shampooers, a coffee shop, and café dining facilities.
1. Manual self-service bays
Some car owners prefer the option of DIY car cleaning, using self-serve car washing bays. For them, the convenience of leaving the bucket, sponge and hose at home is a godsend.
Self-service bays are typically card or coin-operated and give customers a set amount of time to wash their car. They allow the customer to choose the amount of time allocated to each part of the wash process, e.g. soak, soap wash, rinse and polish.
During washing, the car is parked inside a covered bay with cleaning equipment, including a foam brush and high-pressure hose.
The customer uses a combination of cleaning techniques generally available by dialling up and paying for the desired service on a wall-mounted controller, including:
- Pre-soak and/or tyre and engine cleaner chemicals and applicators
- Foaming soap and brushes
- High-pressure spray rinsing
- Low-pressure wax applicators
- Spot-free final spot-free rinse.
- Vacuum stations are usually available on-site outside the wash bay.
2. In-bay automatic systems
Keep your feet dry and leave the cleaning to modern technology. The Automatic allows customers to kick back and relax while their car is washed around them.
The in-bay automatic allows the car to be cleaned while the customer remains in the car. During cleaning, the automated washing equipment and dryer systems roll back and forward over the customer’s stationary vehicle. Customers using these facilities are often looking for an easy, quick wash at a competitive price.
There are several forms of in-bay automatic systems, including touchless or soft cloth/foam brush equipment (often called roll-overs), and some wash sites have a mixture of both.
Brush (roll-over) washes use a combination of high-pressure sprays, chemical cleaners, and friction cleaning provided by a range of cloths and brushes.
Many of Australia’s in-bay automatic car washes are located in service stations.
Touchless car wash forgoes brushes and uses high water pressure plus chemicals to clean the car.
Vacuum stations are usually available on-site outside the automated wash.
3. Tunnel wash
Tunnel wash systems provide the most thorough wash of all automated systems and provide a range of wash options from inexpensive express wash services to washes including wax and even undercarriage washing.
A tunnel car wash is an automated wash with the vehicle being washed as it moves via a conveyor belt through a wash tunnel.
As the car moves through the tunnel, it is subjected to various treatments, including cleaning chemicals, rollers and cloths, and automatic high-pressure water hoses that spray chemicals and dirt off the vehicle. The tunnel also has the capacity to blow dry the car.
Some conveyor tunnel wash operations add to their service by providing staff for interior and exterior detailing once the tunnel wash has been completed. In other situations, customers clean their cars' inside using on-site vacuum stations.
4. Full-service hand wash
Hand car washes usually provide a range of wash levels, from a simple external and internal clean to a full car detailing service.
- Hand washing is made up of two service types
- In-store washing
- Mobile car wash
- During the process, the customer leaves the car with an attendant and is washed using a series of manually applied internal and external cleaning processes.
The external process often includes high-pressure washing, manual soft-cloth chemical application and washing, pressure rinsing, waxing and hand drying. This is followed by internal vacuuming as well as upholstery and window cleaning.
It is not uncommon for some modern hand wash services to incorporate a tunnel wash system for external cleaning, followed by manual internal cleaning and external hand drying.
Many hand car wash facilities are tapping into Australia’s cafe culture by providing on-site cafe facilities, allowing customers to relax while waiting for their clean car to be delivered.