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News from the Industry

April 04, 2011
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Update: Study finds drivers are to blame for SUA
The findings from a 10-month study, involving Toyotas and why they have had sudden acceleration issues in recent years, show that driver errors are mostly to blame.

The study, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), found three main causes for the vehicles to suddenly accelerate, including:

  • Sticky accelerator pedals;
  • Floor mats trapping the throttle in an open position; and
  • Drivers hitting the gas pedal when they thought they were hitting the brake.

Wade Newton, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a majority of the major U.S. auto makers, said, “It does appear that this study, which was conducted by America’s top scientists and engineers, should reassure the driving public that many of the more ‘mediagenic’ claims had no merit. We’re pleased that this detailed report can be reassuring to consumers and is similar to the extensive internal research and testing auto makers already do.”

Professional Carwashing & Detailing has been following this topic closely as several sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) cases, involving Toyotas and Jeeps, have occurred at carwashes for years. Most recently, Grandview Auto Wash, in Kansas City, MO, and Toyota are both facing a wrongful death suit from the children of a woman killed at the carwash in November 2009. Rosland Watson was sitting on a bench outside the carwash when the owner of a 2002 Toyota Land Cruiser lost control of his vehicle as he exited a carwash bay and struck Watson and another woman, who was injured.

The lawsuit insists that Toyota is at fault due to a history of “knowingly producing vehicles with defective acceleration and braking systems.” And, the carwash is liable because “it did not live up to its duty to provide a safe environment for its clients.”

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said, “We’re looking forward to seeing the report” as it should bring some resolution to the question of whether “mysterious electronic glitches caused the unintended acceleration in Toyota cars.”

Toyota has been insisting that their vehicles and their electronic controls are safe.

The investigative agencies ran tests at a Chrysler Group LLC testing facility and Toyota Motor Co. and provided NASA software engineers with “unrestricted access” to their computer codes.

Mister acquires its 66th carwash
Mister Car Wash, the second largest conveyor carwash chain in the nation, has now acquired an express carwash in Brooklyn Park, MN.

This marks its 13th location in the Twin Cities area and the company’s 66th carwash nationwide. The transaction was finalized January 18 and the carwash is scheduled to open in early May.

“Increasing our presence in a market the size of the Twin Cities aligns with our growth strategy. This location is ideal because it is close to popular retail areas and is the only carwash servicing southern Brooklyn Park,” said John Lai, Chief Operating Officer of Mister Car Wash.

Mister will be installing new tunnel equipment and free vacuums, along with building modifications and signage enhancements.

CarbuX donates more than $10k to charities
More than 50 Northeast Florida nonprofits are benefiting from generous donations by the CarbuX Car Wash chain, which asked customers to choose amongst participating nonprofit groups during a month-long promotion last January.

Customers who used either of the CarbuX carwashes in the Jacksonville, FL, area were able to use a four-digit code when purchasing a carwash. For every $10 carwash purchased with the organization’s code, CarbuX donated $4 to that group.

More than $10,000 was given in total and customers were also able to make additional donations where 100 percent of the amount was given to the nonprofit.

“The CarbuX fundraising program helped us make a difference in the fight against ALS, bringing in more than $400 for our organization,” said Brian Benwick of the Association’s Florida Chapter.

“The funds helped patients living with this devastating disease and funded research to find a cure.”

Mike’s honors cops with free washes
Mike’s Express Car Wash gave free washes to members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on January 29, in memory of a fellow officer who was shot and killed while on duty during a weekend traffic stop.

Officers just had to show their badges to receive a free wash for their patrol or personal vehicle. Mike’s spokesperson Susan Knight said this was just a small gesture to show their support to the police department.

The Mike’s Express Facebook page posted a message that read: In honor of fallen Indianapolis Metro Police Officer David Moore, we want to show our support and appreciation to those who serve and protect our community. Stop by any central Indiana Mike’s carwash for a free Express wash.

Carwash owners want city to stop new development
Two carwash owners are speaking out after the Scottsdale City Council approved a rezoning and conditional-use permit for a new carwash within the city.

Both Brian Moran, owner of Desert Auto Spa & Car Wash, and Praveen Jain of Prestige Car Wash, feel the market is already oversaturated and current businesses in the area are struggling to stay afloat. “If the city continues allowing more, in order to cope, we will have to make some drastic changes … a significant reduction in head count and possibly eliminating our convenience store, which will eliminate transaction taxes for the city,” said Moran. “So they’re only hurting themselves. There is no transaction tax on a carwash because it’s a service.”

The city’s criteria, however, doesn’t include conditions for existing competition or market conditions. Instead, the city focuses on the impact to surrounding property owners as far as additional traffic, noise, etc.