Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Your self-serve arsenal

October 11, 2010
For all the technology and investment that resides in your equipment room, some of the fundamental tools are often overlooked. The most essential items in your carwash today are the tools your customer uses.

These are the wands, brushes and booms that the customers are in direct, intimate contact with on a daily basis. These tools should be high quality, sturdy, convenient and well maintained. They are your “front line,” your first opportunity to make a good impression to your customers.

Focus on: Booms
Booms may seem like a simple tool, but since their inception, booms have revolutionized the self serve carwash industry. Booms make the carwash experience much more pleasurable and hassle free for your customer. They allow mobility and complete access to all sides of the vehicle without the hose dragging over it and possibly damaging it.

The maneuverability that comes with booms reduces the chances of the hose catching on the customer’s vehicle. It is that convenience that makes booms a vital part of your customer’s carwash experience.

Due to the stainless steel construction, booms have a long lifetime. The parts that require periodic replacement on the booms are the swivels.

When selecting a boom, be sure that it is one that a customer can move easily. A quality boom will return to the side of the bay in order for vehicles to pass through your bays easily. If the boom does not rest to the side of the bay, the hose could get caught on your customer’s vehicle.

There are many types and styles of booms out there. Typically booms are used for high pressure and foam brush functions. There are other booms that can be used for either air drying or vacuuming applications.

The most popular are the ceiling mounted single and dual 360-degree booms. These booms allow your customer a complete 360-degree range to cover every inch of their vehicle. The dual 360-degree boom allows your customer better access to both a high pressure function, and a low pressure function. The dual 360-degree boom also hangs from a ceiling mount.

There are two booms that are offset in order for each boom to hang and move independently from one another. The 180- degree wall mounted boom is ideally used for either outside a self serve bay, foam brush, air drying application, or if you have an extra large wash bay.

Extension booms are also available. Most of the time they consist of a 180-degree wall mounted extension boom in conjunction with a ceiling mount 360-degree boom. These are predominately used for large truck or bus bays.

Focus on: Wands
Wands are another valuable way to accommodate your customers throughout their carwash experience. Wands provide your customers with a comfortable way to apply the product. Most wands are designed for ease of use and to lessen the chance of vehicle damage.

When selecting a wand you should have your customer in mind. Wands are basically a steel pipe that has an insulated handle. Some handles are better ergonomically designed than others. They come in all different colors and styles. Some are straight, others are flexible.

These days, the majority of wands have a trigger gun. This allows your customer more control of the different applications. Having a trigger gun can also avoid the chance of surprising your customer on a high pressure function.

When selecting a trigger gun, look at the weight and the grip of the gun. It is also important to know how much strength it takes to pull the trigger. Your customers come in all shapes and sizes, and you want all of them to be able to use your product with comfort and ease. The more comfort your customer experiences in your wash, the more time and money they will spend at your wash.

Maintenance issues
There is always a maintenance factor with wands. You should routinely check your wands for leaks, breaks or other vulnerabilities. Checking the nozzles on your wands frequently is a must in maintaining a profitable wash.

Your nozzle performance can be compromised or even rendered totally ineffective by eroded, damaged or obstructed nozzle orifices. Nozzles can wear, corrode, and erode from everyday use. Basically, the wear that occurs is the gradual removal of the nozzle’s material inside its orifice. This will cause the nozzles’ internal flow passage to enlarge. Your nozzle’s flow rate will increase, pressure will decrease, and spray will be irregular.

You may also experience build up of material on the inside or outer edges of the nozzle. This build up can be from chemicals, dirt or hard water. It will obstruct the nozzle’s orifice and disrupt proper nozzle function.

Nozzles can also be damaged from installation, improper assembly or lack of adequate nozzle protection. Inspecting and cleaning your nozzles can often restore performance. It is recommended that you inspect your nozzles and spray function on a routine basis.

To avoid damaging the nozzle when cleaning, use a softer material than the material the nozzle is made from. Toothpicks or soft/medium toothbrushes are good tools when cleaning your nozzles.

You must change out your nozzles when damaged for quality and correct application. A worn, damaged or clogged nozzle can be detrimental to your business. It would lead to lost revenue from unscheduled down time and customer dissatisfaction.

Focus on: Brushes
Typically, when you have a foaming brush as a low pressure function in your wash, it will be the most used low pressure function overall. Foam brush has become a self-serve standard. Your customers will ultimately spend more time in your wash if you install a foam brush system. More time means more revenue!

The brushes used in the self serve foam application are generally the foundation type of brush. These brushes are normally used to apply a foaming cleaning agent to the vehicle. The brush allows the customer to gently agitate the dirt on the vehicle without damaging the exterior.

Brushes are mainly made out of either flagged synthetic fiber or hogs hair. The base of the brush is made from a durable lightweight molded plastic block or structural foam. They will either come with or without rubber bumpers. Having rubber bumpers on your brush will give your customers a little added security when it comes to protecting their vehicle.

The synthetic flagged end of some bristles allow for adequate agitation, with little damage to the customer’s vehicle surface. Although hogs hair may be more expensive, it seems to be a customer favorite. Made from hog’s hair, it in essence appears to the customer to be gentler when applying cleaning solution to the vehicle.

Most brushes in the carwash industry are made chemically resistant. When purchasing a foam brush, you want to go with a lightweight, durable one with soft bristles.

Maintenance issues
To maintain the life of your brushes, regular inspection is required. With normal use and routine maintenance, your brushes should last quite some time. Dirt can build up within the bristles, and if not inspected, can scratch and damage your customer’s vehicle.

When a customer decides to use the foam brush application on their tires, you may get small particles of metal from the brakes embedded in the bristles. This can severely damage a customer’s vehicle. Brushes should be inspected routinely throughout the year. Depending on your wash’s traffic, you should replace your brushes seasonally.

The tools that your customers use have tremendous impact on your business. Providing your customers with a convenient, comfortable, and pleasurable experience will set your wash apart from the rest.

Your customer wants a quality wash using quality equipment. Having a superior “front line” by putting in place high quality tools and a routine maintenance schedule will guarantee that your customer will appreciate the effort and return time and time again. One more step towards a successful carwash business.


Corrina Leair has over nine years of experience with GinSan Industries. She is part of their sales, marketing and graphic design department. She can be contacted at (616) 735-5625, or via email to cleair@ginsan.com.