The pros and cons of different types of car washes.

Pros & Cons of Different Types of Car Washes

If you’re considering opening a car wash or offering cleaning services, exploring the different car wash types can help prepare you for their benefits and challenges. This guide outlines each car wash type and the pros and cons accompanying them.

Contact Us For Your Car Wash Supply Needs


What Kind of Car Wash Is Best for You?

When establishing your services, you can determine the best type of car wash by weighing the pros and cons of each. Considering these factors can help you find the one that offers services and benefits you and your customers will love while understanding the drawbacks you’ll need to prepare for.

1. Self-Service

Self-service car washes are excellent options for gas stations, rest stops and convenience stores. They can provide car wash owners with extra income and require little effort from staff since customers do everything themselves.

Customers simply pay and receive access to self-service tools and supplies. While self-service car washes typically only offer basic rinsing and soaping services, you may choose to add drying, waxing and polishing for an extra cost. Customers can also bring a cloth from home to dry their car.

The pros of self-service car washes include:

  • Convenience:¬†Self-service is great for cities or other high-population areas where people might not have access to space to wash their cars themselves. They’re also great for areas with strict regulations on what homeowners can flush down storm drains.
  • Lower prices:¬†These car washes give customers the freedom to care for their car themselves at a lower price than others.

However, self-service car washes also come with some cons:

  • Limited services:¬†Self-service car washes offer fewer services to customers. While you will supply all the tools and products, customers do all the cleaning, rinsing, drying and waxing themselves.
  • Slow-moving:¬†Depending on how many self-service car washes you have and their popularity, you might have customers waiting in long lines.

2. In-Bay Automatic

In-bay automatic car washes allow customers to simply pull into a bay and stay stationary while equipment works around them. Automatic car washes are incredibly convenient car wash options because it requires minimal work from both customers and owners.

The pros of in-bay automatic car washes include:

  • Services:¬†Most in-bay car washes incorporate dryers at the end, and they can also provide more washing services. Brushes can reach and thoroughly clean the car’s entire body, windows, undercarriage and wheels.
  • Cheaper:¬†Equipment and installation are cheaper for in-bay than other automatic¬†car wash types, allowing car wash owners to charge less for these services. Lower prices and better cleaning help boost their popularity with customers, making them a great investment for car wash owners.

When tallying in-bay cons, you should consider:

  • Brushes:¬†Most in-bay car washes use brushes to clean cars, increasing the risk of scratching the car’s paint. While they offer a deeper clean than self-service, this tradeoff can deter some customers.
  • Limited space:¬†Because cars pull in and stay stationary for the duration of the wash, other customers will have to wait for the current customer to finish. The delay can lead to longer lines and frustration in impatient customers.

3. Tunnel Automatic

While tunnel automatic car washes are very similar to in-bay, they incorporate a conveyor belt to pull cars through the cleaning services. Like in-bay, these are very popular car wash services, especially in an increasingly fast-paced world where people expect convenience and speed.

Some of the pros of tunnel automatic car washes include:

  • Services:¬†Like in-bay car washes, tunnel car washes offer more¬†types of car cleaning services¬†than self-service. Since the cars move through various stations, customers can better see and understand what you offer and enjoy the process.
  • Convenience and speed:¬†Because conveyors keep cars moving through the car wash, other customers can enter the car wash at specific intervals. Once the current customer reaches a certain point in the process, you can give the next customer the okay to enter. This method can help decrease lines and waiting time, increasing convenience and customer satisfaction.

Tunnel automatic car washes do include some cons, such as:

  • Brushes:¬†Like in-bay, tunnel car washes often use brushes, increasing the risk of scratching cars.
  • Higher prices:¬†Tunnel installation, conveyors and other equipment cost more for tunnel car washes than in-bay. These extra costs require a higher initial investment, which often leads to tunnel car washes charging customers more.

4. Touch-free

Touch-free car washes avoid the scratching risks of brushes and cloth by using water pressure and cleaning agents. Touch-free is a great alternative to more traditional car wash methods if you want to provide increased care to your customers.

Touch-free car wash pros include:

  • No brushes:¬†Touch-free car washes eliminate the risk of paint scratches. Their more delicate cleaning can help protect the car’s paint, side view mirrors and other fragile features more than other cleaning methods.

Touch-free car washes also come with cons like:

  • Reduced cleaning power:¬†Because it is contactless, customers will miss out on brushes that can thoroughly clean and remove dirt, pollen and other grime from the surface of their cars.
  • Stringent cleaning agent requirements:¬†When developing a touch-free car wash, you need to find a good cleaning agent. This service largely depends on the cleaner’s strength and the water’s pressure.

While most car washes only offer exterior washing, full-service car washes will clean the car's interior as well.


5. Full-Service

While most car washes only offer exterior washing, full-service car washes will clean the car’s interior as well. This type of service allows car washes to show their expertise and provide extensive care for their customers.

A full-service car wash has many pros:

  • Extensive services:¬†Regardless of what type of car wash you currently own, full-service will drastically increase the services you can offer. You can provide more thorough cleans for your customers, letting them take care of everything at a single location.
  • Convenience:¬†While this car wash type often takes a little longer than others, you can help customers save time and effort cleaning their car’s interior. You can also increase convenience and comfort by setting up a seating area with entertainment while they wait.
  • Increased income:¬†Offering extra services lets you charge more, helping you bring in more revenue for your business.

Some of the cons of a full-service wash to be aware of are:

  • Higher price:¬†A higher price point might deter some customers. While you’ll be charging more for your services, you’ll also likely serve a smaller customer base.
  • Greater employee involvement:¬†Since you need manual labor for interior cleaning, it’s essential to train and equip your employees thoroughly. They’re the faces of your company and will help drive business for your services.
  • Fewer regular customers:¬†While people might need exterior washing frequently, they might require interior cleaning less regularly. You should expect fewer regular customers for this service.


Support your car wash with supplies from JBS Industries.


Support Your Car Wash With Supplies From JBS Industries

Determining your and your customers’ needs can help you choose the¬†best type of car wash¬†for you. When you’re ready to make your choice, be sure to increase your business’s success by investing in high-quality supplies.

At JBS Industries, we manufacture car wash supplies that will make your operation shine. With over 40 years of experience, we understand the car wash industry, allowing us to create products that will best serve your business and your customers. Explore our car wash products today!


Add A Comment

Join our mailing list

* indicates required
Set Up a Product Trial Today!
close slider