Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Mitter maintenance

October 11, 2010

?Since the introduction of the mitter to the carwash industry in the mid-1970s, it has been a staple in carwash tunnels. Two aspects which have contributed greatly to the success of the mitter are the ease of operation and the maintenance of the machine.

Following a maintenance schedule and checklist ensures the carwash operator that the mitter will work properly and reduce downtime, thereby ensuring the operator doesn’t unnecessarily lose any revenue.

Your mitter maintenance schedule should be divided into a three-part timetable, complete with daily, monthly, and yearly inspections. Each requires a different schedule but is equally important in the grand scheme. Variations such as tunnel placement and the type of chemical being applied result in different wear on the machine which requires different maintenance.

What to check daily

The daily mitter maintenance checklist begins with a visual inspection of the machine.

During the operation:

  • Inspect all of the moving parts checking to see if everything is moving smoothly and working the way it should;
  • Check for any unusual motions;
  • Listen for any unusual sounds; and
  • Be sure to check the electric motors.

If there is an unusual motion or sound it is a sign that there is something wrong somewhere and the problem needs to be addressed.

It is always good to address a problem sooner rather than later so it does not lead to a larger problem down the road which could result in downtime and loss of revenue. Also, do not forget to check to see if all the nozzles are working and applying water or chemical to the vehicle. Clogged nozzles are easy to miss, but could create potential problems.

The nozzles’ other function is to flush water or chemicals to the mitter material to keep it clean. Clogged nozzles lead to dirt build up on the machine as well as the material leaving an unsightly appearance.

What to check monthly

Monthly maintenance requires a more hands-on approach and can usually be done during rainy days or down time.

Physically inspect all bearings to make sure there is no excessive wear.

  • Grease the bearings (if applicable) and check the greaseless bearings to make sure that they are in good shape. Bearings located in different parts of the mitter wear differently. Usually the bearings located by the drive arm of the mitter wear more quickly because they are exposed to more tear and wear due to carrying the bulk movement of the drive arm.

  • Check the oil level of the gear box and make sure there are not any oil leaks coming from the shaft of the gear box. Also grease (if applicable) the drive arm and visually inspect the arm for any wear.

  • Inspect the mitter material for any excessive wear. If the curtain material is frayed, cut the material at the wear point, giving a fresh clean look to the mitter. Inspect where the mitter material is mounted to the machine. Sometimes there is wear at this point that requires the mitter strip to be changed before it tears and falls on top of a vehicle.

  • Now is also a good time to replace any mitter strips that have been torn off during operation presenting a clean appearance to the customer.

What to check yearly

Yearly maintenance is usually for overhauling some major component on the mitter. Replacing the material of the machine falls into this category.

Changing the mitter material is usually due to worn out material or dirt build-up on the material. If the material is wearing and does not touch the vehicle — reducing the cleaning ability — then the material should be changed. Dirty material which is not necessarily worn should also be changed presenting a clean appearance to the customer.

Also, be sure to check out the gear box. A leaky gear box should be changed so that the dripping oil does not build up on the material and transfer onto the vehicle.

Mitter maintenance schedules are very important tools for the carwash operator to ensure the proper operation of the mitters. Daily, monthly and yearly maintenance schedules of the mitter cleaning material as well as the machine moving parts require visual and physical inspections. Unusual motions and sounds should be also checked before a small problem becomes a larger problem. Taking care of your mitters and checking them routinely will in turn reward the operator with less downtime, and many years of operation and washing cars. ?


Serko Kirikian has 20 years experience in the carwash industry. He is a partner in his family’s carwash businesses, Hamilton Car Wash and Windsor Car Wash, as well as in Kirikian Industries, the company that manufactures NEOGLIDE, a foam material.