With an automatic car wash, the customer makes a car wash purchase at an unattended terminal and pulls their vehicle into the car wash bay. The car wash moves back and forth cleaning the car while it is in park, either with rollers that go over the car with a soft cloth or a high-pressure spray.
This is a very common type of car wash, and it can clean a vehicle very quickly while requiring very little work from the customer. The process is all automatic, so it might not be the best choice if you or your customers want a more hands-on approach to washing their cars. Still, this is a great car wash if you don’t have a lot of space or resources for a more detailed wash.
What Is An Automatic Car Wash Machine?
A Automatic Car Wash Machine is a simple and automated type of car wash system that is typically coin-operated or token-operated self-service system. Newer self-service car washes offer the ability to pay with credit cards or loyalty cards. The vehicle is parked inside a large covered bay that is equipped with a trigger gun and wand (a high-pressure sprayer) as well as a foam brush for scrubbing.
When customers insert coins or tokens into the coin box, they can choose options such as soap, tire cleaner, wax or clear water rinse, all dispensed from the sprayer, or scrub the vehicle with the foam brush. The number of coins or tokens inserted determines the amount of time customers have to operate the equipment; in most instances, a minimum number of coins is necessary to start the equipment.
These facilities are often equipped with separate vacuum stations that allow customers to clean the upholstery and rugs inside their cars. Some self-service car washes offer hand-held dryers.
Types of Automatic Car Washes
There are basically two styles of automated washes: roll-over and conveyor washes.
With the roll-over style, you drive into a bay and remain stationary while the wash equipment moves past your vehicle. These washes are common at gas stations and are usually self-serve.
The other style, the one most drivers are familiar with, is a long tunnel where your car is moved along on a conveyor past a series of synchronized machines.
There are also two different methods of cleaning a car in an automatic car wash：Soft-Touch Car Wash and Touchless Car Wash.
The Soft-Touch Car Wash
When you think of a car wash, you might envision spinning soapy hula skirts and dangling tentacles brushing past you. That method of cleaning relies on soft materials to gently wipe away dirt and grime from your car. This soft-cloth car wash is extremely popular and effective. Old-school “brushes” found in car washes of the past have been replaced by softer materials, making the process far less aggressive and abrasive than it once was.
The Touchless Car Wash
The other method employed in some car washes is the “touchless” wash that relies on high-pressure water jets and strong detergents to blast the dirt off of the car. This method avoids physical contact with the vehicle but may leave some areas unclean because it does not wipe any surfaces. And the chemicals can be a bit harsh.
What is A Touchless Automatic Car Wash Machine?
A touchless car wash machine, like any typically automated car wash, will require you to select how you want your car to be washed and make your payment in a machine. This car wash type can also either be in-bay or in a tunnel.
In an in-bay touchless car wash, the car owner would drive in and stay on a spot where the car washing equipment would be going around the car to clean it. While in a tunnel, the car would be dragged by a conveyor toward the car washing equipment.
But unlike other automated car wash types, particularly the traditional automatic car wash and the brushless automatic car wash, an automatic touchless car wash doesn’t make use of any spinning brushes or cloth strips.
Although both cleaning types of equipment effectively remove dirt and grime, they can also potentially damage the paintwork. So a touchless car wash would be the safer option since it would wash a car with only increased water pressure and strong car wash soap.
How Does A Touchless Automatic Car Wash Machine Work?
- For the touchless car wash to operate, you’d first have to approach a machine where you will set the washing procedure for your car.
- Then, make your payment in the designated slot. There are usually many options you can avail of. Like you can go for a basic wash or add more applications like more soap layers, protective coating, tire shine, etc.
- After you’ve chosen the washing procedure for your car, you will drive through the bay or tunnel.
- And once you’re in place, the touchless car wash will spray water on the car to loosen up the dirt and grime, spray detergent on the car, and rinse the car once again. Rinsing would be the last part of a touchless car wash unless you avail of other services.
- Moreover, some touchless car washes also provide drying through blowers. While others offer hand drying, if your car is dried by hand, you must give a tip to the worker.
Are Touchless Car Washes Safe?
A touchless car wash may not have the brushes and cloth strips that may grind and smack dirt and debris on a car’s surface. Still, it uses relatively stronger pressure in spraying water and potent detergents. And these powerful cleaning implements may make a car owner wonder, “Are touchless car washes bad for paint?”
- The elimination of brushes and cloth strips in a touchless car wash may lessen the risk of scratching.
- However, there still is a possibility of it. It’s because a touchless car wash doesn’t make direct contact with a car. Instead, it makes up for it by spraying water at a pressure level that’s greater than the typically automated car wash with brushes or cloth strips. And the friction from the very high-pressured water may also possibly scratch a car’s surface.
- A touchless car wash also substitutes direct contact cleaning with a potent detergent. When applied to a car, the powerful detergent would be breaking down the dirt, debris, and grime on the car’s surface.
- Although it is effective, it’s also very harsh. It can be damaging in the long run, especially with frequent touchless car wash going.
The point is a touchless car wash is somewhat safer than other automated car washes that use brushes or cloth strips. But there still may be chances of paint damage in it, but lesser.
So a touchless car wash gives car owners the advantage of quicker car washing with less risk of damage.
The Benefits Of An Automatic Car Wash Machine
1. You Will Get Better Results
No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to equal the results you would get from an automatic car wash vs hand wash. When you are washing your car by hand, you will undoubtedly miss areas. After all, we aren’t machines. While you may be able to do ‘good enough’ if you’ve performed hundreds of washes in your lifetime, you won’t ever be able to achieve the same level of effectiveness as an automatic wash. This is one of the main reasons you should consider investing the time to put your car through an auto wash. After all, who doesn’t want a crystal clean shine?
2. Save Time and Money
One of the biggest benefits of automatic car washes is that they save you a significant amount of time. You can take your car through an automatic car wash within five to ten minutes, whereas hand-washing your car can take an hour or even longer–especially considering the time you spend preparing your supplies to wash your car. While most drivers acknowledge that automatic car washes save them time in their day, it is a lesser-known fact that taking your car to an automatic car wash saves you money as well as time.
Many people have the misconception that hand-washing their car on their own using a bucket, soap, and a hose saves them money. While it is true that taking your car to an automatic car wash costs money, it is actually more cost-effective than washing your car by hand.
When you wash your car by hand, you have to spend money buying all of the supplies required to wash it–and pay for the water you use to wash the car. Plus, because hand-washing your car takes so much more time than taking your car to an automatic car wash, using an automatic car wash saves you valuable time that is surely worth more than the cost of a $10 to $20 automatic car wash.
3. Better For The Environment
Another major benefit that cannot be ignored would be the environmental impact. Due to the increased efficiency of getting your vehicle washed by an automatic wash, you will end up using far less water. Automatic washes use recycled water. Therefore, you will be able to rest easy knowing that you are having a positive impact on the environment.
When you wash your vehicle by hand, you have to use a lot more water and the water is wasted and not recycled. Believe it or not, a standard garden hose uses a whopping 10 gallons of water per minute. Therefore, if you washed your vehicle for as little as 10 minutes, you would be using 100 gallons. Whereas, if you go to an auto car wash that uses recycled water, you will use a lot less.
4. Reduce The Wear and Tear On Your Vehicle
Are automatic car washes bad for your car? One of the reasons some car owners stray away from auto washes has to do with this myth that they will damage your vehicle. The truth is, these auto washes have specialized equipment that can wash vehicles without damaging the finish of the vehicle. Whereas, if you are planning on doing it on your own, you will likely find yourself using a lot of things that could potentially damage your vehicle. After all, you won’t know what material works and what materials you should be avoiding for preventing scratches and more.
Additionally, you won’t have the element of human error that could result in scratches and other issues during the washing process. After all, a machine isn’t going to get tired. Therefore, a machine won’t make mistakes. There will always be an equal and gentle amount of pressure applied. Whereas, if a human were to do the same thing, they would likely apply too much or too little pressure throughout the hand wash.
5. Car Washes Reduce Waste
There is a significant amount of waste that you will be contributing by washing your car by hand. Unfortunately, you will be using commercial cleaners, soap, and other cleaning solutions that could enter sewers. As a result, you could be contributing to more pollution and waste entering the waterways. Visiting an automatic car wash near me means virtually no waste. Not only is the excess water recycled, but everything is disposed of properly.
6. High Level Of Customization
Another benefit that you will be able to enjoy with an automatic car wash is the ability to customize the entire thing from start to finish. At Splash and Go Express Car Wash, you will be able to ask for specific wash methods based on your vehicle and the auto wash will be able to deliver precisely what you ask for. This can make it the perfect option for those who have specific things they want to be done and things they want to avoid doing. The level of customization is something that ensures you can get precisely the type of wash you are looking for.
How much does a Car Wash Machine cost?
Car Wash Machine Cost is the most important in the car wash business. Infact it happens to be the one of the largest – cost wise in the equipment required for running a car wash business.
The price range of the car wash equipment is very variable, as the cost of the car wash machine changes based on the requirement of the type of machine as per the market liking and kind of dirt.
The cost of the car wash machine is based on the following factors :
- Type of Technology Used i.e.
- Touchless or
- Type of Driving System i.e.
- Conveyor or Tunnel,
- Inbay or Trolley,
- Drive through Fleet
- Number of Cars per hour
- The number features in the Car Wash Machine. Types of Waxes, Spot Free Rinse, Bubble Bath, Blowers etc.
- Activation Systems ( Payment System, Door Controls )
The system can range from about $15000 to about $200000 and hence the cost of the car wash machine depends upon the above factors and the options of the machine you choose.
Automatic Car Wash Vs Hand Wash
With summer in full effect, there’s no better time to wash your vehicle. Determining whether to go to an automatic wash or do it yourself can be a tricky decision, as there’s really no right or wrong answer.
Choosing the best method will depend largely on your personal preferences, so read ahead to find the optimal choice for you.
Automatic Car Wash
The obvious advantage of going to an automatic car wash is the time and convenience factor. We all have busy lives, and may not have the opportunity to fit a long hand car wash into their schedule. Depending on how thorough you are, washing your vehicle by hand could take up to an hour to complete, while an automatic wash can be completed in just a few minutes.
Unless you know what you’re doing, you could easily scratch your vehicle if you do a poor job washing it yourself. If you have little confidence in your abilities, it’s likely in your best interest to leave it to the machines.
While automatic car washes are certainly more convenient, they may not be the best for your vehicle’s exterior. If the wash is done poorly, it could leave smear marks that could become almost impossible to remove down the road.
While washing yourself will undoubtedly take more time to complete, a little elbow-grease could also be worth it in the long run.
As long as you know what you’re doing, hand washes typically do a much better job of cleaning the vehicle. If you’re willing to spend the proper time, you’ll likely be able to remove more dirt and grime compared to an automatic wash.
Washing a vehicle yourself will also give you the ability to wax and polish your vehicle, helping to remove any extra debris and give your car a brand-new looking finish.
Finally, most automatic car washes will use either air drying or blow drying. Both of these methods are more likely to leave water spotting that could remain on your vehicle for years. Using a micro fiber cloth during your hand wash can avoid these problems entirely.
If you value your time above all else, automatic car washes may be the way to go. Sure, they can be a little harsh on your car’s exterior, but the time you save could may be a balancing factor with the mild risk. Also, depending on who you are, your car’s ability to get you from point A to point B may be all you really look for in a vehicle.
If you truly care about properly maintaining your vehicle, you should find the time to regularly wash your car by hand. Doing your own wash will help to get at spots that an automatic wash couldn’t dream of getting, and will have your car looking newer than ever.
Automatic Car Washes FAQ’s
How frequently should I wash my car?
It is apparent when your car needs a good wash. You may see dust from the roads, flecks of mud, or even debris from mother nature in the form of bug splats and bird droppings. When you notice any of these things, it is time for a car wash. We recommend that you do not wait until your car is so dirty that you cannot tell its color. Build-up of dust and pollutants can cause damage.
Ideally, a good car wash, at least twice a month, is best. Consider it as part of your routine car care rather than an afterthought. When the weather conditions are more harsh, such as during the winter when road salt is common, wash your vehicle as often as you can. Washing your car’s undercarriage is not required with every wash. However, washing the underbody helps to remove debris that might retain corrosive chemicals and plug drain holes.
Do Automatic Car Washes Reuse Water?
It is true that automatic car wash tunnels are designed to reuse water, making them by far the most water-efficient and ecologically friendly wash option. However, reusing water does not imply that it runs to the bottom of the bay and then blasted onto the next car. Automatic car wash tunnels have specially designed tanks and equipment for collecting water and purifying it before reusing it.
The reuse process employs two primary methods: Separation and Reverse Osmosis Separation. Separation is less rigorous, employing density filtration to remove chemical agents and heavy dirt and sand. The outcome is clean water with small amounts of cleaning products.
In contrast, reverse osmosis takes water and pushes it through a special nanocarbon filter to remove hardness, particulates, and chemical contaminants. The filter pores are extremely small (smaller than sand grains), resulting in considerably cleaner water than the water in your home’s water hose. Reverse Osmosis water is utilized in the final rinse of your car wash, making the car wash more efficient and much safer than hand washing your car with your city’s water.
Car Wash Tunnel Recommendations
Before washing your vehicle at an automatic car wash, you should do some things to prep your vehicle. Follow the below simple steps for the best outcome.
- Make sure your license plate is secure.
- Be sure to empty the bed of your truck of all debris.
- If you have a retractable antenna, lower it.
- Side mirrors should be pulled in for trucks and SUVs.
- Remove detachable racks.
- Roll up all windows and turn on child safety locks if you have children or furry friends in the vehicle.
When You Should Not Use an Automatic Car Wash
- If the window seals or door seals are damaged.
- Classic cars with original paint should not use an automatic car wash because antique paint is much thinner and softer than modern paint products.
- If your car has matte paint.
- If you have excessive mud on your vehicle (spray off chunks of mud before going through an automatic car wash).
- Vehicles with loose components or large sections of rust.