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Conveyors/Tunnels / In-bay Automatic

Maintenance tips for dryers

August 27, 2013
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Most operators will agree that offering a dryer option contributes substantially to higher car counts. And to keep those customers coming back, dryers have to function consistently to meet customers’ expectations. Among all the things that make that happen, maintenance must be given high priority. By making regularly scheduled inspections of the dryer’s key components, downtime is minimized as well as unexpected maintenance costs.

One common component

There are many types of dryers including on-boards, inside wall-mounts, outside wall-mounts and stand-alones. While they look different, they all have one common component: Air producers with nozzles or vents. And, the two key elements of air producers that are necessary for their operation are motors and impellers.

Dryer motors installed in short bays are subjected to constant moisture, particularly bays with doors. And, the largest, single source for moisture related motor problems is at the make-up box where wires are connected to the motor. If water penetrates a motors make-up box, major electrical problems can occur, including motor failure. One indication that water has gotten into a make-up box is regular breaker tripping. And, should that happen, a qualified electrician should be called immediately to repair it.

Check the impeller

The other key component of an air producer which should be inspected on a regular basis is the impeller. After they’re manufactured, impellers go through a balancing process that ensures they’ll run smooth without vibration.

An out-of-balance impeller allowed to vibrate over a long period of time could not only cause the motor bearings to fail, it could virtually explode causing damage to customer’s vehicles or even cause personal injury. Usually, out-of-balance impellers are the result of debris caught in the blades. A major contributor to this problem is trash left in the bed of pickup trucks that becomes airborne and drawn inside the air producer. This is a particular problem with unattended in-bay automatics where pickup trucks frequent. A warning sign at the bay’s entrance can sometimes reduce this problem. But for added safety, the impeller should still be checked for debris on a weekly basis.

Look for early warning signs

Although dryers probably require the least amount of maintenance of any in-bay automatic carwash system, they shouldn’t be ignored either.  Fortunately, dryers seldom malfunction without early warning signs. Typical warning signs include:

  • Excessive vibration
  • Circuit breakers tripping
  • Motor bearing noise
  • A scraping noise from an impeller.

To avoid unnecessarily expensive repairs, operators should take immediate action if they notice any of these or other unusual signs. While these warning signs are generic, unique warnings can occur from specific brands of dryers requiring the appropriate action.                                         

Archie Johnson is with The Dryer Pros located in Phoenix, AZ, where he specializes in designing and manufacturing vehicle dryers. If you have any questions about dryers, he can be reached at (602) 272-2940 or by email at

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