Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Starting the year off right

Presenting preventative maintenance schedules for conveyor, in-bay automatic and self-serve carwashes.

December 30, 2013

Now that a new year is here, it’s important to set up a calendar outlining your goals, appointments, and your maintenance tasks. As any successful carwash owner will tell you, a preventative maintenance schedule is imperative in that it not only keeps equipment running smoothly and efficiently, but also lessens the chance of equipment malfunctioning that can shut down a carwash and turn away customers.

This article offers up a preventative maintenance schedules for a conveyor, in-bay automatic, and self-serve carwash. The conveyor one was provided by Robert Andre, president of CarWash College. The in-bay automatic one was provided by David Mathews, a service manager at AUTEC, Inc. And the self-serve schedule was provided by the people at CustomKraft Industries, Inc.

We suggest cutting out each one and/or entering the noted tasks in your own calendar. To do the latter, Andre suggests creating a 30-day calendar and filling in the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and then leaving enough space for a sign-off box that will include the initials of who completed.

“In addition to the 30-day calendar, an annual dry erase calendar can be helpful as well,” notes Andre. “Using the annual calendar, you can also plan a year’s worth of repairs and projects with some forecasting and scheduling.”

Andre also suggests creating an equipment log which includes every single piece of equipment used at the carwash. Then, document all service and repairs both scheduled and unscheduled, that are not included in the preventative maintenance schedule. Include the date, car volume since the repair was last performed, and whether the service was scheduled or unscheduled.

“Add notes, tools, required parts, part numbers used, vendors and the time it took perform the repair,” Andre says, and, “List potential causes if a repair was premature. This will help with scheduling future repairs to avoid downtime.”



Preventative Maintenance Schedule for a conveyor/tunnel

By Robert Andre

Daily Tasks

Observation is the most important aspect of these checks. Remember to: observe, look, note, and confirm. It’s important to catch small problems early before they cause greater damage.

Opening Checks: These are performed prior to opening the carwash and before running any water.

  • Check the hydraulic fluid: All leaks should be repaired immediately.
  • Look for low oil levels, leaks, and sub-standard performance of the overall system.
  • Do a wet test: This portion of the opening check is performed before opening and is designed to bring all of the equipment on line and ready to wash vehicles. The wet down procedure is programmed into the controller and allows you to concentrate on observing the equipment.
  • Visually check all of the chemical barrel levels in the equipment room (you do not want to run out of a chemical for any reason. The entire wash process can be compromised if this happens.) Please note: When changing a barrel, always clean and test the foot valve. Transfer the last of the old container into the new container when possible. Besides just looking for barrels that need to be replaced, you are looking for excessive use and minimal use.
  • Check the salt level of the water softener system. Fill with salt as needed. It’s better to have too much than too little.

Operational Checks: Performed while the wash is operating, these checks confirm the equipment is functioning properly and correctly adjusted.

  • Walk through the tunnel while a wash is occurring with all extra service applicators operational. Check for overall performance and specific adjustment indicators.
  • Inspect the equipment room while a wash is occurring with all extra service applicators operational. Check for overall performance and specific adjustment indicators.

Closing Checks: These are performed after the wash has closed for the day. These checks confirm the equipment is functioning properly and is correctly adjusted. In addition, any heavily soiled cloth is cleaned.

  • Inspect the tunnel. Look for any damage that may have occurred during the day.
  • Inspect the equipment room. Check for any damage or problems that have come up during the day.

Weekly Tasks

The two most important aspects of the weekly checks are lubrication and close inspection.

  • Pay close attention to lubrication. When weekly procedures are performed, long-term wear and tear will become apparent and further deterioration can be avoided. The Weekly Procedures are divided up between the tunnel and the equipment room for a typical conveyor carwash.

Monthly Tasks

The two most important aspects of the monthly checks are cleaning and close inspection. The assignments are divided up between the tunnel and the equipment room; and are scheduled for individual days assigned at the manager’s discretion.

  • Thoroughly clean the equipment.
  • Closely inspect long-term wear points to gauge overall wear and tear on the equipment.

Annual and Semi-Annual Tasks

The scheduling of individual tasks is determined by the manager of the facility. However, they must be done within 30 days, plus or minus, of their due dates.

  • Look to replace wearable items, such as chains and rollers.


Preventative Maintenance Schedule for an in-bay automatic

By David Mathews

If a carwash owner or operator is planning on maintaining their own equipment, we suggest keeping good records of all the part numbers with the date when it was replaced along with any special notes on how it was done. Looking back on this type of information, when the need arises again, can prove to be invaluable when you can’t reach anyone by phone for technical assistance on a Saturday morning when things are busy. We also suggest that operators keep a record of all the phone numbers for any vendors that are associated with the carwash. Also, having the right tools can make any repair job easier. Be sure to ask the manufacturing company or your distributor about any special tools they recommend that you may need to maintain your equipment properly.

Daily Tasks

  • Every morning check the entry system to ensure proper wording is displayed.
  • Empty dollar bill stacker.
  • Check to see if coin hopper has enough quarters to make change.
  • Check bill acceptor and code entry buttons for proper operation.
  • Check the carwash bay for cleanliness and remove any debris. This will help the machine to operate properly
  • Monitor all chemical levels.
  • Change chemical supply line to full container if necessary.
  • Inspect cloth to ensure nothing is trapped in the cloth to cause damage to customers’ vehicles.
  • Check air compressor to make sure it is operating properly (minimum of 100 psi).
  • Listen for any type of air leak from air hoses used in the machine’s operation.
  • Drain twice daily if no automatic drain or airline dryer is present.
  • Observe a carwash in progress. Did the customer receive all options purchased?
  • Watch for anything unusual or and make sure everything is up to standards.
  • Check vacuums, air machines and any other added services that a customer may use.
  • Finally, if any problems exist that cannot be corrected, contact the appropriate service personnel.

Monthly Tasks

  • Clean all of the glass.
  • Check for any leaks ( water / oil ) on equipment or equipment room.
  • Making sure all carwash lighting is working properly (including marketing/signage lights).
  • Pressure wash bays and equipment.
  • Clean out chemical pumping stations.
  • Check wear of wash material (cloth or polyflex material).
  • Check entry system for proper operation including receipt paper, giving proper change and taking credit cards.

Annual Tasks

  • Check valves on your high-pressure pumping station.
  • Change the oil in the air compressor.
  • Change oil and filter for the carwash (if applicable).
  • Flush chemical lines out  (Clorox solution works well).
  • Check umbilical lines (air, water, electrical and chemical lines) for wear and replace as necessary.


Preventative Maintenance Schedule for a self serve

By CustomKraft

Periodic maintenance enhances income, as well as, the life of the self-serve equipment. Also, regular cleaning improves the customer’s experience by providing a sanitary work environment. The saying goes, “You can’t clean a car in a dirty bay”, and it also stands to reason that vehicles get cleaner in a spotless bay. Because self-serves can be unattended, it’s also important to make sure customers feel safe and that means, all lights should be working, as well as security equipment. Consistent maintenance and performance checks prevent issues from becoming large expenses.

Daily Tasks

  • Wash and clean bays with high-pressure.
  • Drop coins into each meter (including those belonging to the bays, vacuums and vending machines) to make sure they’re working properly.
  • Operate each bay cycle, and check them for correct pressure, delivery and leaks.
  • Operate the vacuums to make sure they’re working.
  • Check all vacuum hoses as well as their ends and check their suction.
  • Operate each bill changer to make sure they’re working.
  • Check each changer for jams and make sure each offers easy bill acceptance.
  • Make sure each changer gives out the proper change.
  • Check chemical levels.
  • Pick-up trash on and around the property.
  • Empty all trash receptacles.
  • Check lights.
  • Check security equipment.

Weekly Tasks

  • Check pump oil level.
  • Make sure pump oil is free of water.
  • Drain water from air compressor.
  • Check salt level and refill the water softener brine reservoir.
  • Clean out vacuum debris bins.
  • Sweep or wash down parking lot.
  • Check sediment level in bay pits.
  • Check product level in vending machines.

Monthly Tasks

  • Check timer settings for bay lights.
  • Clean filter bags on vacuums.
  • Change 5 micron pre-filter on RO (reverse osmosis) system.
  • Check hoses, guns, brushes and nozzles for any wear and tear.

Quarterly Tasks

  • Check drive belts for any tension and wear.
  • Lubricate locks with graphite.

Semi-Annual Tasks

  • Change pump oil.
  • Change air compressor oil.
  • Change activated carbon media on RO system.

Annual Tasks

  • Replace vacuum motors.
  • Clean walls with high-pressure washer.
  • Clean parking lot with high-pressure washer.
  • Paint any exposed metal.