Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Reduce Damages to Vehicles Through Proper Preventive Maintenance

CarWash College™ Hydraulic Equipment Maintenance Tip of the Month

September 18, 2006

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We, here at CarWash College™, are often asked the question, "How do I reduce my damage claims?" There are many ways to reduce damage claims: identifying problem cars, proper training, proper procedures and proper preventive maintenance. Today, I will discuss the preventive maintenance adjustments of your hydraulic power packs and the effect they can have on damaging cars.

In addition to maintaining your wrap-arounds and other brushes, you should not neglect your hydraulic power packs as they are what drive most of your equipment.

Hydraulic power packs are the motor and pump assemblies that deliver pressurized oil to run the hydraulic motors that spin your brushes. On those power packs there is a lever called the flow control valve which controls the amount of pressurized oil being delivered to each piece of equipment. This flow control valve enables you to vary the speed of your conveyor and brushes.

If your conveyor speed is set to 60-90 cars per hour, your brush speed should be 75-85 revolutions per minute. If your conveyor speed is set to 100-150 cars per hour, your brush speed should be 85-95 revolutions per minute. If your brushes are spinning too fast, you're going to break many more mirrors and antennas.

Check all of your brush speeds by tying a piece of string to one of the pieces of material and count how many revolutions it rotates in 15 seconds and multiply that by 4. This will give you your RPM's. If a brush is too fast or too slow, go to your power pack and move the flow control lever toward the zero for slower speed and toward the 10 for higher speed. The movement only needs to be slight to vary your rotation speed. After you've moved the lever, check the RPM's again.

If you're noticing excessive damages to mirrors and antennas, check your rotation speeds first.

I've come across washes doing about $90,000 in sales per month and having 4% in damage claims. The quick math on that is $3,600 in damages per month. With 1% being an acceptable damage claim number at $900, that's a difference of $2,700 per month. One particular wash, with the above numbers, only took some quick rotation speed adjustments and an air adjustment to get the damages back down to the acceptable 1%.

Maintenance of your hydraulic power packs is simple and will prove to save you money now and in the future.

Rob Madrid is the Director of Education for CarWash College™. Rob can be reached at Rmadrid@carwashcollege.com. For more information about CarWash College™certification programs, visit www.carwashcollege.com, or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.