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Sonny's-Carwash College™ Tip of the Month

Reduce Damage (Claims) From Wraps

CarWash College™ Tip of the Month

April 19, 2007
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As valuable as the wraps can be to cleaning the front, sides and rear of vehicles, some operators refuse to install this piece of equipment due to the numerous damage claims associated with it. Unfortunately, this can be true depending upon how you operate your wraps. The most common equipment-related-damage in the industry is the mirror. There are a few vehicles that are a problem to the entire industry and I'm sure you know which vehicles I am speaking of. A large number of operators will often turn away the customer that pulls in with one of the vehicles from their caution list while the majority of operators will retract the wraps completely throughout the wash process. Although either way can reduce damage claims. Fortunately, there is another option.

Most tunnel controllers have what is commonly referred to as a cycle option. The cycle option allows you to activate a piece of tunnel equipment multiple times per vehicle. For example, the flip capability for most of the wheel blasters made which allows them to flip multiple times (as controlled by the computer) to increase cleaning. The same concept can be applied to the wraps. There are two cycles for this configuration. They are as follows:

Cycle One — As the vehicle approaches the wraps, the wraps stay in the retract position until the computer sends the retract solenoid the signal to deactivate. Once deactivated, the wraps move into the wash position to clean the front of the vehicle. As the vehicle passes, and the wraps maneuver to the front quarter panels, the computer sends a signal to the retract solenoid to retract away from the vehicle.

Cycle Two — Typically, cycle two is activated three to four feet after the front of the vehicle enters the tunnel as this is where the mirror is most often found on modern vehicles. At this point, the wraps will retract for an approximate distance of one to two feet. As the mirrors pass out of the wraps range, the computer sends the signal for the wraps to return to the wash position to clean the remainder of the vehicle.

This option can be set as a damage prevention icon on the controller key pad (located at the entrance of the tunnel) and can be activated by the attendant when a problem car is to be washed. This option may also be set for every vehicle in an attempt to completely eliminate mirror related damages.

So how does this affect you? The average replacement cost of a mirror is approximately $150. Eliminating one mirror a month in damage over the course of the year would save $1,800. $1,800 may not seem like much to some operators but this amount does not include employee errors and other damages. Nor does it include the potential loss of revenue due to unhappy customers.

So, if you have the computer knowledge to safely make the adjustments and the need to do so, then it is strongly recommended. If you do not have the knowledge to make the adjustments, contact your customer service representative for assistance. Taking small steps to reach large goals is sometimes the best way to get one step closer to improving service at your car wash.

Wes Rowe is the manager of on-site training for CarWash College™. Wes can be reached at For more information about CarWash College certification programs, visit or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.