Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Inspecting the UHMW Axle Bearing for Wear

CarWash College™ Preventive Maintenance Tip of the Month

April 28, 2008


At CarWash College™ we teach preventive maintenance. This month we are going to talk about a piece of equipment that is often so reliable that it often goes unchecked. The Mitters in the car wash are responsible for cleaning the top surfaces of the vehicles in the wash. Though reliable, the Mitter still needs to be checked for wear and maintained just like any other piece of equipment in the car wash. When failing, the Axle Bearings can cause other parts on the unit, although in perfect condition, to start to fail as well.

The design of the Mitter makes it a little harder than most pieces of equipment to check for problems, because all the drive mechanisms are on top of the unit, high above the floor, requiring a ladder to perform the checks. The Mitter Axle is responsible for the accurate movement of the Mitter basket itself. When inspecting the bearing for wear, there are two main things that will let the operator know it is time to change the Mitter Axle.

The Mitter Axle has a round hole were the Axle is placed that allows the movement. This hole, as it wears, will start to take on an egg-shape that can be seen from the top of the Mitter. Another thing that will cause the wear of this bearing to become noticeable is the Mitter Basket. It will start to hoop at the end of each front-to-back or side-to-side stroke. This can be seen from the ground during normal operation.

The bearings should be checked for wear on a monthly basis; however, they require no grease, since they are made from Ultra High Molecular Weight plastic. When conducting a monthly check for the wear on the bearings, clean the entire assembly. Cleaning the assembly will help you see any other problems with the unit, as well as keep the unit looking in tip-top shape.

The Mitter, when checked and maintained on a regular basis, can provide years of reliable operation in the car wash. The Axle bearings on the Mitter are not costly and, if inspected and caught at the first signs of wear, can be a reasonably cheap replacement. The bearings have a cost of about $7.00 and are reasonably easy to change out yourself. By contrast, other components that could be affected by the wear of the Axle bearings could cost as much as $275.00.

Robert Andre is the Director of Classroom Training for 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.