Deciding Which Type of Car Wash is Best for you Convenience Store or Gas Station in 2020


Demand for car washes have increased through the past decade due to its increased convenience and greater array of budget and luxury options, and with increasing environmental regulations prohibiting residential car washing. The industry’s customer base is expected to grow moving forward. As a business owner, once you decide that you want to invest in a car wash as another revenue stream for your gas station or convenience store, you have to make sure you pick the best system for your needs. Whether that’s a Touchless Automatic Car Wash, Friction Automatic Drive Thru Car Wash, or a Coin Operated Self Car Wash. Each of these systems have their own benefits and downsides, so determining what’s most important for your needs is a must before investing thousands of dollars. If you would like to learn more about the benefits a car wash system will provide to your business, check out our other article Benefits of Having a Car Wash at Your Convenience Store or Gas Station in 2020.

Touchless Automatic Car Wash

The main selling point of the Touchless Automatic Car Wash is that nothing comes into contact with your vehicle. Other car washes have a chance of scraping or denting your vehicle with the spinning brushes used to clean the car. For this type of wash, the only thing that comes into contact with your car is pressurized water and soap. A downside this type of wash has is that it doesn’t clean the vehicle as well as other types of washes. There is no contact from scrubbing, pressurized water alone won’t remove those hard dirt and grime spots from your vehicle. Even with this downside, many people still prefer this type of wash because there’s no risk of scraping or denting their cars. Additionally, with the Touchless Automatic Car Wash, your customers don’t have to get out of their vehicle during the car wash, which adds a great convenience factor for your customers. Another advantage of these types of car washes is that they are low profile and compact, compared to the Friction Automatic Drive Thru Car Wash. The touchless system requires less space and is cheaper to build and maintain. On the flip side, the touchless system is much slower and takes about 4-6 minutes per car, or 10-15 cars an hour. Whereas the friction cleaning car washes are quicker and more efficient. The friction system can clean a car in 3 minutes or 20 cars an hour. When deciding between a touchless or friction system, it comes down to what you value the most. Are you tight on space or do you have a smaller budget, if so go touchless. 

Friction Automatic Drive Thru Car Wash

The main selling point of this system is the efficiency and speed it cleans vehicles. The friction system cleans cars much better compared to the the touchless system, however there is a very slim chance it can scrape or dent customers vehicles. Similarly to the touchless system, the customer does not have to get out of their vehicle at any time of the car wash, this makes it really convenient for your customers. The Friction Automatic Drive Thru Car Wash can clean about 20 cars an hour, while the touchless system can only do about 10-15 cars an hour. The higher speed and efficiency provides the business owner with greater revenue due to the system’s increased processing speeds, allowing more cars to go through per hour. When deciding between a friction or touchless system, it comes down to what you value the most. Do you value speed, efficiency, and being able to offer your customers a great clean, if so go with a friction system.

Coin Operated Self Car Wash

The Coin Operated Self Car Wash is a more traditional form, as technology in the past has not allowed for the automated car washes we have today. Although, these self operated car washes still have their benefits. The main selling point for this type of system is that the customer can control how clean their vehicle is at the end of the wash. The customer also has a limitless amount of time to wash their vehicle as long as they pay for it. The Coin Operated Self Car Wash is usually cheaper than an automated car wash. A downside of The Coin Operated Self Car Wash is that it’s not as efficient as automatic car washes. You may be able to do a better job at cleaning your vehicle with a self wash, but it will most likely take you a much longer time, compared to if you just got an automatic wash. Another downside is the self wash can become really messy, high pressure water and soap goes everywhere, which can get you really wet and make your clothes messy. Many people solely use self operated car washes because it gives them the liberty in choosing how they want to clean their car. Some people need a mild cleaning, while some prefer a more detailed cleaning. The customer controls the type of wash they will get. One thing to note with the touchless and friction systems, you will need an operator to make sure the car wash is operating properly. This means you will obviously be paying labor fees to these employees, with the self wash system you won’t need an operator present, because customers will be doing all the work. I would only recommend a gas station or convenience store owner to purchase this type of system for their business if they want a more passive revenue stream.

Car Wash Comparison


It’s always a great idea to add additional revenue streams to your business. It’s especially great when that revenue stream is relatively passive and demand for that service is increasing over time. The difficult decision when deciding to add a car wash system to your business is deciding which system will be best for you. Each system has their own benefits and downsides and determining which one will give you the most upside is crucial. Hopefully our article helped you with determining which system would be best for your gas station or convenience store. If you would like to read about other passive revenue streams you can add to your retail business, check out our other article How to Boost Revenue in Convenience Stores and Gas Stations in 2020.

Leave a Reply