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Car Wash Bay Equipment: Understanding the Basics

The type of equipment you purchase for your in-bay car wash matters. If you’re new to the field, you might feel overwhelmed by all your options and uncertain which car wash bay equipment is necessary and which is optional. Getting acquainted with in-bay automatic car wash equipment and what features to look for can help. 

Why High-Quality, Durable Car Wash Bay Equipment Matters

In-bay automatic car wash services usually involve an unattended kiosk from which the customer chooses a wash package. This is a double-edged sword. No attendant means no labor cost. But it also means that the equipment needs to function reliably for long periods without human help. With no one onsite who can tweak or fix wash equipment when it needs it, you could be headed for a lot of downtime and a lot of disgruntled people if equipment keeps breaking down. 

Thus, when starting out in the car wash business, you’re presented with this choice. Buy lower cost – and lower quality – equipment, or pay more up front for high quality that will last longer. It comes down to owner choice and judgement, or perhaps your business plan.

One key consideration is customer experience. Equipment that breaks down more quickly can be costly for your reputation. Gradual failure lowers the quality of your wash over time, negatively affecting demand. You could even suffer a complete breakdown mid-wash, which could be a real problem and even damage a customer’s car.

Investing in high-quality and durable equipment lowers the chances of malfunction. Not only will you ensure that your customers receive the best quality care for their vehicles, but you’ll also have peace of mind that you won’t have to replace faulty and damaged equipment on a regular basis. 

What To Look for in Different Car Wash Bay Equipment

You need to purchase several pieces of equipment when starting an in-bay car wash system. These also apply to owners who want to upgrade their in-bay car wash equipment.

The factors below are worth considering whether you’re purchasing single-bay or multiple-bay car wash equipment.

Water Treatment Systems

Water treatment systems haven’t always been a regular feature in the car wash industry. However, many modern-day car washes have declared them necessary for making their operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. While not legally required by law, many customers will value your efforts to protect the environment, and your investment can help lower your monthly water and sewer bills and ensure that your equipment has a longer life. 

There are three main water treatment systems to consider for optimal wash performance and wash cycles: 

  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) System: RO systems help remove 99% of dissolved solids by applying a high-intensity pressure in the feed line using a pump system. The RO then sends water through semipermeable membranes that trap dissolved salts and ions but allow water molecules to pass through. The treated water gives vehicles that coveted spot-free rinse. 
  • Water Reclaim System: These systems process water from settling tanks, clean it, and then return the clean water for reuse. Water reclaim systems are often closed-loop systems, which prevent water from leaving the car wash so that it can be reused several times.
  • Water Restoration System: These systems filter water through a cyclone at high speed, removing all particles around the five-micron size and forcing them into a catch container. 

You can use these treatment systems to improve all of your wash packages. Talk to a car wash water treatment supplier to learn more about your options.

Vacuums and Vacuum Hoses

Many in-bay automatic car washes have an area outside the tunnel equipped with vacuums and hoses. While vacuuming is usually left up to the consumer, it’s an important feature to offer. After all, vehicle interiors need some TLC too, and the presence of a good vacuum, especially offered for free, is in itself a great way to attract traffic to your wash.

When choosing a vacuum cleaning system and bay hoses for your car wash, choose one from a reputable commercial car wash vacuum manufacturer, with sufficient power to do a good job with with hair, animal fur, dust, food particles, gravel and sand. Pay attention to metrics like motor power HP and also CFM (cubic feet of airflow per minute).

Stainless Steel Pump Stations

Some of the most durable pumps are stainless steel. Stainless steel products are more corrosion-resistant than other materials, even during elevated temperatures and pressures. Car washes have several high-pressure systems, and stainless steel pumps can withstand them better and likely won’t have to be replaced as often.

Besides the material, you should also look at the features offered. For example, some pump stations will have more pumps with varying tank sizes. Depending on the size of your car wash, you may want to opt for a smaller pump station. Other features may include tire inflators, wash gear, and a digital display for accurate wash control.

Air Dryers

An air dryer is a drying system at the end of the tunnel wash. Dryers utilize high-pressure air to help eliminate excess water accumulated during the vehicle’s wash. Drying systems leave vehicles streak-free when exiting the tunnel. There are several air dryers that you can purchase. Considerations include the power in HP, energy efficiency and noise. Some neighborhoods have noise regulations that must be adhered to. 

Car Wash Chemicals

Lastly, you’ll need to decide what type of vehicle chemicals you wish to include in your car wash. When searching for detailing supplies and chemicals, consider the added boost in recognition and trust that branded chemicals offer the consumer. Also opt for Ultra Concentrates that are more efficient, easier to handle and store, and more environmentally friendly.

The best car wash chemistry is not just a matter of cost, but a balance of cost and benefits, including delivering the best clean, dry and shiny car at the end of the wash. Customers that are happy with the wash will be back. Those that aren’t won’t.

Find the Right Equipment for Your Car Wash Business

Finding and choosing the right equipment for your car wash business can be overwhelming with so many options out there. Fortunately, there are companies that can help you make the right choice for your business and overhead design. 

You can trust National Carwash Solutions to help you make the best choices. We are an end-to-end provider of car wash equipment, including chemicals, services, vacuum systems, tunnel car wash systems, installation, and more. Working with us will ensure you’re in the best hands. Interested in learning more about our services? Contact us today for a consultation. 

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