Professional Carwashing & Detailing

The blow down on IBA dryers

October 11, 2010
As an in-bay automatic proprietor, you possess a great advantage to achieve the “cardinal rules” in carwashing. That is, to enhance your clients wash experience and to generate more revenue or perceived value.

Dryers today come in numerous sizes, shapes and styles. It’s important to know what options to consider and why they make a difference. Aside from jumping in and adding another piece of equipment to your in-bay, you first need to know your space considerations.

Determine space type
Some dryers require as much as 12 feet of floor space while others fit in as little as 28” of floor space. Dryers can be mounted on-board (for those with no floor space) or they can be mounted on the wall. Keep in mind that excessive weight and vibration over time can cause cosmetic and structural damage to the building when using wall mounts.

Ideally, the dryer needs to meet your space requirements either inside or outside of your in-bay automatic.

The freestanding dryer requires less cycle time, yielding a higher car count per hour. Placement is up to you — even outside your wash with a vending option works, equaling more cash for your bottom line. Some dryer manufacturers have specially designed freestanding products for limited space.

The freestanding dryer can also assist in marketing your wash. For example, if the unit is outside, customers see they get something else (perceived value) and they won’t have to physically dry their cars after using your in-bay automatic wash. Due to the nature of the freestanding dryer, it can be added at anytime to the carwash.

The styles and designs of wash dryers change over time. Rollover units were once popular, but could damage a vehicle or leave dirt on the surface. The tracking dryer, which used limit switches and photo eyes to follow the contour of a vehicle, became popular until switch and eye failure caused severe damage.

Some manufacturers use combinations of plastic, aluminum, steel, polymer, resin, or even stainless for the dryer housing unit. Ultimately your personality and style will determine the dryer for your wash. In general, the higher the quality of the housing material, the longer the external longevity of the dryer and the nicer your wash will appear to your clients.

Determine airflow
In addition to the space requirement and housing unit, a proper evaluation of airflow will help to determine dryer needs. If the airflow of the dryer doesn’t move the water beads off, it’s not going to help achieve your cardinal carwash goal.

In general, you should look for a minimum of 5,000 CFM (cubic feet per minute). The greater the CFM, the more air is blown at the car. There are manufacturers who provide units of up to 13,000 CFM per producer.

Determine manufacturer warranty
A down carwash, or one that is always broken, hinders the perceived value for the customer. Work closely with your manufacturer to ensure a complete product warranty should anything break or need replacement. As a general rule, the more moving parts a piece of machinery has, the greater the chance for something to break.

Know your own personal style, budget and cost appreciation. Do the math and see what makes sense for your in-bay dryer experience before you purchase. Numbers time and references can really make a difference in choosing a dryer wisely.

Adding a dryer to the in-bay automatic wash is about adding value to your customer’s experience. It’s all about making their in-bay experience first class, top of the line. A dryer can do just that by providing customers a dry car with sparkle and shine. Oh, and make sure your dryer manufacturer recommends a good drying agent.

Arthur D. Stephens, Jr. has been in the wash industry for 26 years and owns International Drying Corporation in Crystal Lake, IL. Stephens can be reached via his company website at: