A lot of people wash their own cars at home, but the convenience of an automated car wash and relatively low cost can be hard to beat.
The automatic car washes have various features:
Self Service: Self-service systems have a pressure sprayer, and sometimes a foaming brush, that is connected to a large central pump. The sprayer has a coin-operated dial system to select the option you want, such as "soap," "rinse" and "wax." A timer shuts the water off after a certain period of time, at which point you must put in more coins if you want more water.
Exterior rollover - A system that is growing in popularity, exterior rollover car washes are automated systems where you drive your car inside the bay. Once your car is in the correct position, a signal informs you to stop. At that point, the car-wash equipment moves over your car on a track, performing a specific function, such as applying soap or rinsing, with each pass.
Full service - A modification of the exterior-only system, full service uses the same conveyor-belt-based automated system. The difference is that the interior is manually cleaned by attendants, and some exterior services, such as hand-drying and wheel-cleaning, are available.
Detail shop - A detail shop may hand wash or use an automated system to wash the car. Then, attendants completely clean and polish the car, normally applying wax and using a tool called a buffer to remove the wax and polish the car. Detail shops are often able to remove dull paint and small scratches, steam clean carpets and seats, brighten chrome, remove tar and perform a variety of other services.
In this article, we will focus on the conveyor-driven systems used in exterior-only and full-service systems
Car washes are normally touchless. The car is placed on the conveyor track. At the beginning of the conveyor is a device called a correlator. This is simply a series of wheels or rollers that allow the wheel of the car to slide sideways until it is aligned with the conveyor.
There are two standard types of conveyor systems:
Front-wheel pull (FWP) - Engages the front left wheel
Rear-wheel push (RWP) - Engages the rear left wheel
Once the car enters the tunnel, it passes through an infrared beam between two sensors.
The Digital Control System the computer that runs the automated portion of the car wash. The DCS determines the length of the vehicle and adjusts the system accordingly. All these services take not more than 10 minutes once the car is in the washing bay.