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This tip was originally published in 2009, but I think it is important to share it again. At CarWash College™ I often get the question, "Why does the car wash break when it's busy?" Well that's not always true, though it can seem that way. I am going to give you some tips to make sure the wash is ready for the busy season. Let's break it down into two areas; Tunnel Equipment and Back Room Equipment.
The conveyor needs to be ready to accept the influx of cars we are all hoping for. The main thing is to make sure the chain and rollers are going to make it through the season. If not, replace them now. Ensure the chain is tight, removing links if necessary. Look at the drive sprocket for signs of wear and check for alignment. Do the same for the take-up. Clean the pit out as well, so you start the season off right.
Cloth needs to be clean and have enough penetration to clean the vehicles. Look for any missing or damaged cloth that might need to be replaced. The rule of thumb is that the cloth should have 3"- 4" of penetration. That means there should be 3"- 4" of cloth laying flat on the vehicle surface. If not, you can adjust some equipment to get the desired amount. If after achieving the 3-4 inches of penetration the remaining cloth is shorter than half the distance from the cloth to the hub, it is time to replace.
Bearings need to be inspected for signs they might be getting ready to fail, look for over greasing, broken seals, lose shafts etc. In addition to checking for failure, they should be greased. When greasing the bearings be sure not to over grease as it could cause failure. Most bearings only require two to three pumps of grease each.
Nozzles need to be checked for wear. I recommend replacing nozzles annually to prevent excessive chemical and water usage. Now would be a good time to start fresh, and replace them this time every year going forward.
Back Room Equipment
Power Packs need to have the oil level and quality checked. Add or replace oil if needed. Now is also a good time to check the low level switch for operation and the overall system for leaks. Look at the filter to see if it needs to be changed. Filters should be changed annually.
High Pressure Pumps need to be checked for proper operation. Ensure they are running at the right pressure and have oil inside. The belts should be checked for wear and replaced if any signs of wear are shown.
Air Compressors should have all the filters cleaned or replaced. Check the oil level, and quality, in the pump. The belts should be checked for wear and replaced if any signs of wear are shown. Check for any leaks in the system and repair immediately.
Chemical Pumps need to have all foot and check valves tested. Clean out all mixing tanks and check pump pressures. Ensure the chemical is giving even coverage to the vehicle and being applied at the right strength.
Doing the above should help you get started on the right foot for the busy season. If doing these simple checks can help eliminate just one breakdown, it could potentially save you thousands of dollars. If you have any questions or would like more information, don't hesitate to contact me.
Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at Randre@CarWashCollege.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.CarWashCollege.com or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.