Types of Car Washes

Full Service Car Wash:

This offers the most services.  The driver usually hands off the key to a staff member and they will typically go and wait in a reception area.  The staff the take the vehicle through the tunnel and perform full detail and vacuum services.  +/- 30 Mins – 1 Hr.
A full service must, therefore, be heavily staffed = labor, and managed = more oversight required.

Express Exterior Car Wash:

Express needs much less staff, and offers fewer services. In this model, the driver will drive their own vehicle through the automated tunnel.  They will drive up to an automated pay station to select and pay for the wash.  In some cases, there may be a salesperson at the pay station to assist and upsell the driver.

The driver drives their own vehicle into the tunnel and is usually guided onto the conveyor rail by a staff attendant.  Once through the tunnel, there may be another couple of staff members to towel dry the missed spots.  Drivers can then drive to the free vacuums to vacuum the interior themselves.

Flex Service Car Wash:

A flex model is a mix of both a full service and express.  It operates like an Express Exterior but offers detail services.  So after the driver exits the tunnel, they can either drive to the free vacuums to vacuum the interior themselves or to a detail area for staff to provide additional detail services.  This model will obviously have more staff than an express exterior model.

In-bay Automatic Car Wash:

This type you might see attached to a gas station, and does not have a conveyor.  The driver will drive the vehicle to a designated position inside the tunnel, stop the vehicle, and the cleaning system will wash over the stationary vehicle.  When the equipment stops, the driver drives out the tunnel.  This is all automated so no supervision is usually required, except for periodic supplies, cash collection, maintenance, and repairs.

Self-Serve Car Wash:

This is a coin-operated, facility where a driver will clean their own vehicle using a wand-style pressure waterhose, or brush.  Like an in-bay automatic, a self-serve also does not require onsite employees so viable for absentee type owners.

However, the self serve market is dwindling and being replaced by the newer models like express and flex – except for smaller towns, rural areas, and lower demographic locations where self service is still much needed.

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