Hockenhull car wash

Stories abound across the industry about the resurgence in the popularity of car washing and valeting. Dealers have been investing in new kit and reaping the rewards.

At Top 50 Indie Hockenhull Garages, for example, they installed a three-bay jet wash centre at their Westside site in Peterborough, which has been a huge success, with the site averaging £7,000 a month just on valeting.

CEO Peter Hockenhull says: “We didn’t have valeting at the site before and there was definitely a need for the service in the area. And it’s proving very successful. It’s only been a few months but it is already bringing new people to the site. If it’s a driver on their own, they’ll use the jet wash then come in the shop for a coffee. And if it’s a driver with their family, they all go in and buy drinks and snacks.”

To complement the jet wash, the Hockenhulls also added a new air machine with vacuum and screenwash built in – all from Washtec. Peter has been astonished at how successful this has been. “All modern cars have digital dashboards which tell drivers when air is needed in their tyres and this has led to our air lines being four times as busy as they were previously.” And the fact that the machines are so well used means they will quickly pay for themselves.

Highland car wash

Your Car Spa

N&S Electrical Engineers installed a new car wash facility at The Highland Group’s Childerley Gate Service Station last December. N&S supplies Adriateh equipment.

Tom Highland takes up the story: “We met Adriateh at The Forecourt Show two years prior to that and were very impressed with what we saw. I went over to Croatia to see the factory and learned more about the company and equipment. Seeing their set-up, designs and finished products working at a site near the factory convinced me the equipment was a level above anything else, which is what I was after.”

Tom promotes the car wash at Childerley Gate via a Facebook page called Your Car Spa. One review on the site says: “What a great experience I’ve had at Your Car Spa. Went there today after work and loved it. The snow foam is proper snow foam and it’s really good equipment. Top notch clean and cheap…”

rusdene car wash

Happy hour 

Another of N&S’ satisfied customers is Oli Lodge from Rusdene Services. MD Oli Lodge says: “We have bought three new jet washes for our Lee on Solent and Waterlooville sites from N&S, as well as three new vac/air-water towers, for Lee Waterlooville and Meon Hut.

“All the new equipment is going very well with the uptake on contactless far outweighing the cash element that we still take. Sales are good on valeting across the board.”

Rusdene has a car wash club and also runs a Happy Hour where drivers can get 50% off a top wash from Monday to Friday from 5pm to 8pm.

Paul Wrate, director at N&S, explains why they partnered with Adriateh: “After seeing impressive installations all across Europe, we went to the Adriateh factory and were blown away by the quality anddesign, together with their adaptability. They are a constantly evolving company, for example they have recently launched their new rollover at the Uniti fair in Stuttgart.

“They use top-of-the-range, proven components matched with the latest cutting-edge technology which is why some people will think they’re expensive. However, our customers soon realise that the quality gives you reliability and longevity, which is why our systems can wash 250-plus cars a day.”

When it comes to cost, Wrate says it varies according to design, number of bays etc, so it can range from £20,000 to £300,000.

Wrate says contactless payment, which is employed at Oli Lodge’s site, is more important than ever. “It’s all about convenience and with forecourts becoming mini supermarkets, customers don’t want to be in queues waiting to buy a ticket for the wash. That is why, with our partner R2W, we have a phone app andcontactless payment in one system.”


Softer brushes

Today’s drivers want to know that an automated car wash will deliver the same quality of wash as a manual wash system. That’s the view of David Nuth, commercial director, at Wilcomatic.

The company has over 55 years’ experience in the sector and imports robust and reliable equipment from Christ Wash Systems in Germany. It also has wide-ranging subsidiary companies providing water reclaim systems, reverse osmosis, SWATs (screen wash air towers), jet washes and vacuums.

In days gone by, car washes had a bad reputation for the damage they could do to cars but Nuth says that’s definitely no longer true.

“Luckily the days of brushes leaving ‘swirls’ on bodywork are behind us with the phasing in of soft foam brushes. Wheels are still cleaned with bristles, but the car is now treated to a softer Microtex+ brush. Overzealous use of a pressure washer at home can cause greater issues, such as water ingress in lights and damage to components,” he explains.


Shorter waiting times

The Christ C173 Alpha machines are currently proving very popular with Wilcomatic’s customers. “This new range of machines is designed with the challenging requirements of car wash centres and petrol stations in mind. It has a modern design and operates with low noise emissions, meaning it can be installed anywhere. Short waiting times are a key factor for customer satisfaction. Alpha provides maximum throughput and high-washing capacities. Thanks to reduced energy and water consumption, the unit is environmentally friendly. Low consumption levels and reduced maintenance costs allow operators to maximise revenue. The modular design allows them to adapt the system to the needs of their site,” says Nuth.

The top-of-the-range car wash from Christ is the C170 VEGA which Nuth say provides the ‘ultimate customer experience’ with LED lighting, foam splash shampoo wall, jointed soft side brushes with Microtex+ , high pressure all round and up to 20 wash programmes. “For the machine alone a customer could include options that push the price tag over £100k. However, a lot of popular features are included in a machine costing half this.”

Petrotec multijet

Personal service

Bailey Carter, PetroAssist sales manager for UK & Ireland, believes car washing is personal. “Some people choose to use the automated car washes, but for those who wish to be more hands on, there is specialist car valeting equipment such as our high-pressure self-service jet wash.

“Our system has an anti-freeze system and can have up to seven easily selectable programmes. It’s also the ideal option when there is not much space available on your forecourt.

“It also allows more control for the customer to concentrate the jet on more specific areas added to the fact that their car’s paintwork won’t be scratched by the motorised brushes of an automatic car wash, nor is there the daunting task of having to line their car up with the car wash guide rails. There is no need to remove your ariel or fear that your wing mirrors might be damaged either.”

The brush and high-pressure lances are fed by high pressure hoses, with swivels at both ends. The rim spray lance is powered by a helical hose. The brushes are made of natural bristles and the nozzle of the high pressure lance has plastic protection.

Istobal M3

Next generation

Istobal describes its M´Wash3 Pro rollover as a ‘new generation’ of top of the range equipment designed to offer greater control and quality in car cleaning through a more efficient, safer and connected technology.

The company says the model is the first and only rollover on the market capable of transforming from three to five brushes and vice versa, in an easy and modular way, without the need to replace the machine structure, thanks to its patented system.

The Istobal M’Wash3 Pro wash rollovers have two-way vertical brush inclination (side and rear), to maximise wash quality.

Istobal says the state-of-the-art software, user-focused design and its multiple options allow a wide variety of programmes that will increase the value of the average wash.

The new five-brush version also incorporates the ’PerfectBalance’ system, designed to ensure the overall stability of the rollover, including the structure and the five brushes, thus providing an additional level of safety during the entire washing process.

Istobal says it is dedicated to sustainability and introduces solutions that significantly reduce water, energy and chemical consumption. One innovation is the Ozone Jet Wash system, which eliminates the need for a boiler in the jet wash equipment, leading to operational cost savings of up to 36%. This system is part of Istobal’s broader initiative to optimise resource usage without compromising on cleaning quality.

Meanwhile, the new J’Wash4 manual jet wash is designed for high performance and precise consumption control. This system aims to reduce water usage by up to 35%, energy by 30% and chemical usage by 10%. Additionally, the J’Wash 4 features the latest Pay’Wash payment terminal, which boasts advanced technology, modern design and full connectivity.

TSG car wash

Maintenance matters

Whichever type of car washing equipment you decide to invest in, it will need regular maintenance. Wrate says: “Poorly maintained equipment will always be problematic, even foam brushes have a life expectancy.”

Wilcomatic supplies a year’s service and maintenance free of charge with new machines. After that it offersa comprehensive range of packages to select from to keep the equipment in top shape.

Cheryl Ashton, marketing coordinator at TSG Solutions, says customer retention starts and ends with customer satisfaction; a factor that can be positively influenced by keeping your car wash clean and well maintained.

“With the myriad of components involved, it is vitally important to choose a maintenance provider that has comprehensive knowledge of the equipment and can deliver prompt and effective service.

“There are, of course, general guidelines available that enable site owners to carry out routine daily checks, which will supplement the professional service and maintenance programme. These include, but are not limited to, a visual inspection of feed hoses, brushes, nozzles, drains, blowers, lights, water flow, detergent levels, pay stations (if applicable) and the general cleanliness of the wash. It is also advisable to perform a regular vehicle test wash to determine if the brushes are making full contact with the vehicle and establish if the soap is being applied correctly.

“These simple checks can help to identify a potential problem, permitting the wash manager to call for specialist assistance, before it develops into a real issue and causes operational downtime. Involving site staff in this daily process will equip them with the knowledge they need to handle any future snags should they arise.”

Then there’s the aesthetics of the car wash area. Ashton says a busy vehicle wash facility that caters to a large number of dirty vehicles on a daily basis will soon take on a less-than-perfect appearance.

“Site owners need to uphold high standards of cleanliness to achieve long-term success and sustainable profits for the business. Just 15 minutes with a jet wash every week (dependent upon throughput) can restore the wash equipment to its former glory, which helps to support customer retention and protect brand identity.”

Planning ahead

Meanwhile, Ashton is a big fan of planned preventative maintenance (PPM).

“PPM acts as a protective insurance policy against serious mechanical failure, which can lead to a costly and time-consuming interruption of business operations.

“Where the budget allows, a comprehensive PPM schedule is a sound investment for site owners and represents excellent value for money in the long term. Regular visits from a qualified technician will increase equipment longevity and keep it in peak operational condition, ensuring the wash continues to function safely and efficiently.”

In comparison, Ashton says with reactive maintenance, when the wash develops a fault, operators run the risk of paying a far greater price than PPM, both in terms of lost productivity and repair costs.

TSG delivers a bespoke vehicle wash PPM service across the UK. Customers can select a TSG PPM contract that best fits the needs and budget of the wash site/network, with the option to include a 24/7 emergency call-out service for those unexpected breakdowns. Ashton says that before a site visit is arranged, the customer service desk will always provide helpful troubleshooting tips for customers to try, as in some instances it can be a quick and easy fix.

And TSG vans carry a wide variety of the most frequently requested spare parts, ensuring that over 75% of wash equipment issues are fixed on the first visit.

Be.ev imo

Car wash competition

Of course, when something becomes popular, everyone wants to get in on the act. Wrate at N&S says they are increasingly working with customers, such as Carbana, who are building standalone, dedicated valeting sites.

Meanwhile Be.EV and IMO had the brilliant idea of joining forces to offer EV charging and car washing at the same site.

Since the launch last October with four locations, they have added another three.

Asif Ghafoor, CEO and co-founder of Be.EV, explains: “Since the initial partnership, we have been working closely with IMO to install several new sites. We now have chargers at seven of their locations, including Batley, Cwmbran, Bradford and Newcastle.

“There are a total of 32 charging bays spread across these sites, all of which have a mixture of ultra-rapid and rapid chargers. We also have an eighth site in Leigh, which is scheduled to go live in July, with a further four confirmed for later down the line.”

Ghafoor says the partnership has been a brilliant success so far with drivers loving the fact that they can wash and charge in one location. “IMO is a well recognised car wash brand with a huge cohort of loyal users, and it’s been great to capitalise on the traffic of these sites. IMO has also seen an uptick as a result of our members now washing their cars after using the chargers.”

Adam Green, CEO of IMO, adds: “Our customers have responded very positively to the launch of Be.EV in IMO sites and they are pleased that they can keep their EVs in top condition by washing and topping up in one location.”

Of course, they could be concerns about electricity and water being close together but Ghafoor says this is a common misconception. “EVs are perfectly safe to take through an automatic car wash. All electric cars are thoroughly tested to ensure that they are weather and wash proof, and our chargers are no different.”