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News from the Industry

May 06, 2011
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Another Jeep crashes after exiting carwash

Looks like another case of a Jeep suddenly accelerating has been reported, and this time it took place at the Splash Car Wash in Norwalk, CT. The incident, which occurred just after 5 p.m. on March 2, is being blamed on sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) by the carwash supervisor.

A carwash employee was driving the vehicle when it suddenly took off and sped toward rush-hour traffic, narrowly avoiding a collision with another vehicle. Witnesses said the Jeep then went over an embankment and smashed into another vehicle and then crashed into a building across the street. The employee was taken to the hospital and no one else was apparently injured. The Jeep, which belongs to a young mother, was massively damaged.

PC&D has been following this topic closely as several cases, involving Toyotas and Jeeps, of SUA have occurred at carwashes for years.

Grandview Auto Wash, in Kansas City, MO, and Toyota are 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,” while the carwash is liable because “it did not live up to its duty to provide a safe environment for its clients.”

Only three remain as Mace sells another carwash

Mace Security International, Inc., the manufacturer of personal defense and electronic surveillance products and former operator of one of the largest conveyor carwash chains in the industry, is down to three locations as it has just sold its Lubbock location for $1.7 million. The Lubbock site also included a convenience store.

Mace, based in Horsham, PA, owns the two remaining locations and leases the third. The company said it is under an “agreement of sale” with one of its two locations. Dennis R. Raefield, CEO and president of Mace Security International, Inc. stated in an earlier story, “We are pleased to announce this sale in our continued progress in exiting the carwash business. We anticipate a complete exit in Q1-2011.”

Bubbles celebrates 20th anniversary

Bubbles Car Wash, which has 12 locations in the Houston, TX, area, is celebrating its 20 years in business and is gearing up to wash its 4-millionth car.

The first Bubbles wash was opened by Bill Lawrence in 1991. That carwash location is still in operation. Today, Lawrence and his partners, Clayton Clark and Bill DeArman, operate 12 carwashes in total. Five are hand carwashes and the other seven are express washes.

Lawrence said, “People kept telling us that ‘time is money,’ so we developed the Express Wash concept to get customers back on the road in just a few minutes. Over the years, we have changed our methods of service delivery in order to be more sensitive to our customers’ time constraints.”

NJ county speaks out in favor of commercial carwashes

Health officials representing Passaic County, NJ, are urging car owners to take their vehicles to commercial carwashes which are regulated by the state Environmental Protection department.

Health Officer Irene Jessie-Hunte said, “Everything we put on the ground can end up in our water. By making small changes, we can keep common pollutants out of our storm water.”

As for parking lot-based charity carwashes and fundraisers, the state Health Department is asking organizers to use commercial carwashes as well, or get up to a $1,000 fine.

MA town to initiate at-home carwashing ban

Amandate concerning at-home carwashing will be initiated in Holden, MA, in an effort to conserve water. Town selectman outlined the ban, which will prohibit unnecessary outside water use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. between the months of May and September.

Commercial carwashing will not be affected. Violators of the ban will at first receive a warning. Then a $50 fine will be implemented on a second offense, followed by a $100 fine, and then a $200 fine.