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Sonny's-Carwash College™ Tip of the Month

Decreasing the Application Costs of a Tire Shiner

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

December 22, 2008
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Here at CarWash College™, we know that the way to reduce labor, increase efficiency, and maximize throughput is to maintain the equipment. Operators install Tire Shine machines to reduce labor, but often forget that the machine is going to require some labor to keep it up and running at its full potential. By maintaining your Tire Shiner and checking on the settings listed below, not only will you have an even application of the solution, but you will likely reduce the number of customer complaints associated with the Tire Shiner. By checking and maintaining your settings your overall customer service index, throughput and bottom line should improve.

Depending on the volume at your location, the following air pressure adjustments can be made to meet your needs. These adjustments will help you obtain the savings and product quality you seek.

  • The main air supply at the control panel should be set to the correct psi recommended by the manufacture, and the solution pump air regulators should be set to the correct psi. Depending on the consistency of your solution and the distance between the pumps and applicator pad or brush, the solution pump air settings may vary.

  • Make the adjustments in small increments and allow several applications so that there no surplus chemical costs incurred. Not doing so many cause the pads or brush to become over saturated and valuable chemical can be lost.

  • Your retract pressure should be set to the correct psi for the driver side and for the passenger side. The air pressure is usually higher on the passenger side. The reason for the variance is due to the length of the arms on the passenger side, which require more pressure to retract completely.
The goal is to have the right amount of air pressure to the pumps so that the precise amount of solution is being applied to the tires. Also, the right amount of pressure against the tire is important so that your solution is not forced out of the pad or brush and unevenly dispersed. Having excessive pressure to either pump will result in wasted solution and higher cost per application. Having the above mentioned settings applied to your tire shiner will increase your efficiency and allow for chemical savings.

Observe the amount of time that the chemical pumps are active. You should have the timer set according to volume. If you are washing a higher volume of cars you can decrease the amount of time that the pumps are active. At a lower volume location, the pads or brush have the ability to drip dry and require more chemical to become saturated. This can be adjusted at the chemical timer located on the main control panel. Set between 2 and 5 seconds depending on your volume.

The amount of savings at your location will vary due to volume. Washing about 100,000 cars per year, of which 50% are tire packages, and using 70 cents per tire shine application, the total cost per car would be above recommended usage, resulting in $35,000 per year in tire shine applications. After making the adjustments suggested, the cost per application should be closer to 40 cents. The savings would then amount to about $15,000 for the year.

Robert Andre is the President of CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.