The following is a helpful list of more than 300 terms and definitions commonly used in the car care industry.

This list is provided by Robert Andre, the president of CarWash College™, a school offering numerous courses for training carwash managers and owners/operators in management, investment, repair and maintenance solutions.

 

Abrasion: A general wearing away of a surface by constant scratching, usually due to the presence of foreign matter such as dirt, grit or metallic particles in the lubricant. Lack of proper lubrication may result in abrasion.

Absorbent filter: A filter medium primarily intended to hold soluble and insoluble contaminants on its surface by molecular adhesion.

Above-ground storage tanks: Storage tanks for spot-free water.

Acid: Often represented by the generic formula HA, (H+A-) it is traditionally considered any chemical compound that, when dissolved in water, gives a solution with a pH less than 7.0.

Adhesive wear: Often referred to as galling, scuffing, scoring or seizing. It happens when sliding surfaces contact one another, causing fragments to be pulled from one surface and to adhere to the other.

Air blowers: Aka blowers, dryers. Device which pushes air (blows) over a vehicle to remove water and help the drying process.

Air cylinders: Pneumatic linear actuators that are driven by a pressure differential in the cylinder’s chambers. They may be single-acting (with a spring return) or double-acting.

Air compressor: Provides compressed air to pneumatic pumps and all air controls (cylinders, roller up, flips, retracts, etc.). Air compressors are machines that compress air to higher than atmospheric pressures for delivery to pneumatic or robotic tools, industrial equipment or direct-use applications.

Air driven pumps: Used to deliver solution to applicator or arch by moving liquids from lower pressure to higher pressure.

Air manifold: A pipe or chamber with multiple apertures for making connections.

Air-over hydraulic cylinder: Cylinder on the tire shiner used to extend and retract the assembly for vehicles. Also found on the Omni.

Alkali: Chemical substance (such as hydroxide or carbonate of sodium or potassium) which reacts and neutralizes an acid and has a pH above 7.

Alkalinity: Property of water soluble substances (or mixtures) causing the concentration of hydroxyl ions (OH-) in water solutions to be higher than the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+).

Amp/amperage: The strength of an electric current measured in amperes.

Anti-collision control: Detects vehicles at end of conveyor and automatically stops and starts conveyor, preventing collisions.

Anti-jam switch: Aka roller locator switch. Prevents roller-up from activating if roller is in jam position.

Anti-seize: A lubricant that prevents seizing, galling, rust and corrosion.

Application/applicator arch: Aka presoak arch, foaming applicator arch. Applies detergents to entire vehicle surface.

Applicator pump stations: Properly mix and dispense detergents and waxes to the tunnel equipment.

Apron: The paved strip in front of, behind and around carwash tunnels.

Arch: A device that sprays water and cleaning chemicals onto the top and both sides of a vehicle as it passes through a carwash.

Automated pay stations: Pay stations that allow a customer to choose a wash from the menu and pay using a credit/debit card, cash or gift card.


Back-flushing head: An automatic device in the spot-free water system that keeps carbon clean to increase effectiveness of the carbon tank. Without this automatic part, the tank must be back flushed every two to three months depending on volume at the carwash.

Back room: Area of the carwash where the support equipment (pumps and motors) of their peripheral systems, water, chemical, air, electrical and gas are maintained which run the tunnel equipment.

Backwash: Phase that reverses water flow to flush dirt out of the tank in the normal operation of a water softener and other filter systems.

Ball valve: Valve that acts as an on/off switch for liquid or air. It can also be used for flow regulation.

Bearing: A rotating support placed between moving parts to allow them to move easily.

Belts: Used in conjunction with a pulley, this coupler is probably the most common in a carwash and is used on high-pressure water pumps and air compressors.

Biodegradability: Capability of organic matter to be decomposed by biological processes.

Blowers: Aka dryers. Equipment that moves water off vehicles.

Boom: In a self-service wash, the arm extension that holds a hose and nozzle for washing the vehicle. The boom can be wall-mounted for 180-degree movement or ceiling-mounted for 360-degree movement.

Bottom motor side washers: A rotating brush utilizing cloth to clean the side of a vehicle. The motor is placed on the bottom side of the unit allowing placement under mitters.

Brine tank: A freestanding tank that collects the salt solution and then disperses it to the mineral tank where the brine (salt) is flushed out.

Bristle: Polyethylene or nylon. Commonly used on tire brushes and rocker brushes.

Bug removal arch: Chemical arch used to aid in the removal of bugs, often placed before a tunnel entrance to allow extended working time. It can be activated manually with a floor switch to prep a vehicle during heavy bug season.

Bumper applicator: Applies additional detergent to front and rear bumpers, especially at higher chain speeds (single, front, dual, front and rear).

Bumper blaster: Equipment piece that uses high-pressure water to clean bumpers without the use of friction materials.

Bushings: Fixed or removable cylindrical lining used to reduce friction between mechanical parts.

Bypass filtration: A system of filtration in which only a portion of the total flow of a circulating fluid system passes through a filter at any instance or in which a filter having its own circulating pump operates parallel to the main flow.

Bypass valve: Aka relief valve. A valve mechanism that assures system fluid flow when a preselected differential pressure across the filter element is exceeded. The valve allows all or part of the flow to bypass the filter element.


C-Channel: Named for the shape of the channels that most cloth, Neoglide and Microclean slide into on side washers, wraps and rocker brushes.

Cable puller: Two-ton tool used to pull cables.

Carbon tanks: Tank in the spot-free, rinse-free system that neutralizes the chlorine and organic compounds in the water supply.

Central vac bags: Nylon dust collectors inside the separator that prevent particles from entering the turbine.

Central vac/water separator: A metal canister used to remove water from the vacuum pipes prior to the separator — commonly used in detail centers.

Central vac/vacuum system: Collects dirt and debris from vacuum lines.

Chain guide: Reduces chain wear and misalignment.

Chains: Most important coupler in a carwash used to connect the conveyor system to the vehicle.

Chain speed: To determine chain speed, measure the length in inches a roller travels in 15 seconds. The resulting number will be the same as the number of cars per hour the conveyor is set for.

Chamois: (Pronounced “shammy.”) Cloths made from animal skins or synthetically produced. Cloths are soft and stretch with closed pores for strong absorption. Used to wipe down cars in full-service carwashes.

Check valve: A valve that allows the flow of water, chemical or air in one direction only.

Chemical metering and feed system: Apparatus for delivering chemicals from the equipment room to the application in the wash tunnel.

Chemical tire application (CTA): Aka white wall applicator, mag wheel applicator. Can be foaming or non-foaming. Applies tire and/or wheel cleaner to wheels and tires.

Chlorination: Process of adding chlorine to water to inhibit bacterial growth.

Circuit breaker: An electromechanical device designed to quickly break its electrical connection should a short circuit or voltage overload occur. A circuit breaker is similar to a fuse, except the breaker can be manually reset and used over and over again, whereas a fuse needs to be replaced.

Circuit breaker panel: Panel of several circuit breakers which is the hub that provides 110V/ Single & Three Phase Power to lighting, computers, signs, reclaim, spot-free compressors, etc.

Clevis: A coupler shaped like the letter “u” with holes through each end so a bolt or pin can pass through the holes to complete the coupling.

Cloth: Aka Permacolor, no-fade, felt. Tightly woven material commonly used on mitters and side brushes that can be cut to any length.

Cloth friction wash: Using wash material against the vehicle’s surface to remove dirt.

Cloth hub: Six-foot, 10- and 12-inch diameter aluminum hub, mounted to brush shaft that cloth mounts on.

Compressed air dryers: An air dryer is a device mounted directly after an air compressor and dries the air. Most air-powered equipment failure is due to moisture in the compressed air, so the more that can be eliminated, the lower the repair costs.

Compressed gas shock absorber: Gas-filled shock absorbers use nitrogen gas at 25 times the atmospheric pressure to pressurize the fluid in the shock and reduce or prevent aeration or foaming.

Conveyor: Motor-driven mechanism driven by belts, pulleys and rollers that transports vehicles through a carwash tunnel. Conveyors are mounted in the trench. Over-under conveyors are built into the trench, whereas surface-mounted conveyors are in a much shallower pit and the chains and rollers returning to the entrance travel beside the rollers not over and under. There are two types: FWP, or front wheel pull, and RWP, or rear wheel push (please see definitions). The conveyor is made up of three sections: take-up section, drive section and multiple center sections.

Correlator: In-ground device, which is a series of tubes/rollers that spin on UHMV bushings, found at the conveyor entrance that aligns

the vehicle wheels with a wash conveyor by providing a mechanism for the vehicle to slide laterally.

Corrosion: Breakdown or deterioration of materials or properties with the material composition due to reactions, i.e., water, chemicals, heat.

Cotter pin: Aka cotter key or a split pin. A cotter consisting of a split pin that is secured (after passing through a hole) by splitting the ends apart.

Coupler: A part that connects two moving parts to relay the motion.


D88K: A steel pintle chain used on the conveyor to push or pull the car through the wash process. It is a less expensive chain because there

is no welding in the manufacturing process. It is the second most used chain in the carwash industry at this time.

Delivery pump: Pressurizes the water held in the tanks to be used by the tunnel equipment. If wastewater is stored, it would also require a delivery pump.

Delrin: A brand name for an engineered thermoplastic coupler invented and sold by DuPont. Commonly used as a metal substitute because of its high mechanical strength, rigidity and resistance to moisture, gasoline and solvents.

Dema solenoids: Stainless steel valves used for soap, wax, tire cleaner or presoak systems (see “solenoid”).

Deprogrammed & deselective: Refers to a setting in the tunnel controller that will turn off a device during the wash, such as a retract function.

Dispensing stations: Systems that release fluids and solvents.

Dog bone chain: Aka X458. An old chain design used in a conveyor that is easier to work with because it snaps apart and does not use cotters.

Door jet heaters: Aka draft blaster, aero vents, air doors. Prevents cold air from entering the carwash tunnel by creating a heat wall at each end.

Drive section: Section of the conveyor found at the exit end of the tunnel that has a trap door which rises to allow the roller to return to the lower level and transit to the entrance end of the tunnel.

Drums: Guides conveyor chain through conveyor in place of sprocket at take-up end.

Dry foam: Term used to describe consistency (dry foam sticks).

Drying agent: Usually a petroleum-based product used to promote water beading and aid in the drying process.

Drying agent arch: Aka cheater wax. Rinses and applies a wax-type product that promotes water beading for better drying.


Eductor: The part of a hydrominder that regulates the flow rate through the Venturi. The eductor Venturi is the part that metering tips screw or plug into. Eductors also vary in size and are color coded.

Electric motors: A machine part that converts electric energy into mechanical energy. Most electric motors have sealed bearings that need to be checked frequently for corrosion and water intrusion.

Entrance photo eye: Aka entrance loop, gate switch. Measures vehicle’s length and communicates with the tunnel controller to turn equipment on/off.

Express exterior wash: Carwash service that includes only a cleaning of the outside of the car. Often this refers to a wash where customers are greeted by an auto teller, where no detailing services are offered.


Filter: Any device or porous substance used as a strainer for cleaning fluids by removing suspended matter.

Filter efficiency: Method of expressing a filter’s ability to trap and retain contaminants of a given size.

Filter element: A porous cartridge which performs the actual process of filtration.

Filter housing: A ported enclosure that directs the flow of fluid through the filter element.

Final rinse: Term used for a high-pressure or low-pressure rinse before the drying process.

Fitting: Components used to connect hoses and tubes.

Flex-service washing: Combination of express exterior and full-service, attracting a broad customer base due to range of pricing. Typically customers stay in the car during the wash. Express customers directly exit the wash, whereas full-service customers pull into an aftercare area, exit the vehicle and wait while attendants vacuum the car, clean the windows and perform any other service.

Float sensors: Used to detect levels in water tanks and oil reservoirs.

Floor switches: Aka tape switch. Commonly used as the entrance management switch or tire locator. They are activated when they have 10-15 pounds of force applied, and then they send a signal to the tunnel controller.

Flow rate: The volume, mass or weight of a fluid passing through any conductor per unit of time.

Foam: The term used to describe the consistency of chemical application. The foam is created when air is introduced into the chemical.

Foam cloth/sponge: Closed-cell foam, light- weight, does not absorb water. Commonly used on wrap-around, side and top brushes.

Foam applicator: Used to deliver the foaming chemical onto the vehicle during the wash process.

Foam/cleaner pump stations: Backroom equipment that feeds foam applicators and arches.

Foaming applicator arch: Covers vehicle with foaming presoak before entering the wash cycle.

Foot valve: A valve that attaches to the bottom of the hose in a drum of chemical and allows the flow of chemical in one direction only. It aids in keeping the hose charged with chemical to ensure consistent dilution.

Forced air heater: Aka modine heater. Provides heat for equipment room and tunnel area to prevent freezing.

Fresh water bypass: Protects the delivery pump and delivers fresh water to the pump in the event the reverse osmosis (RO) system is not producing enough water to meet demand.

Friction side washer: Rotating brushes that clean the sides of cars. Various heights and angles are available to provide concentration to different side surfaces. Shorter units will often focus on lower rocker panels while taller units can reach the tops of the highest SUVs.

FRL: Filter, regulator, lubricator.

Front grill washers: Aka grill brush. Washes front grill and side of vehicle with opposite rotation of wrap-around.

Front-to-back mitter: Cleans all horizontal surfaces of the vehicle with extrance-to-exit motion.

Full-service: Conveyorized or tunnel wash that provides a complete wash, vacuuming and drying, (usually by hand) and usually generates a higher revenue per car. Greeted by an attendant, the customer selects his or her wash level/extra services before exiting the vehicle to a retail waiting area or convenience store. While the customer waits, attendants take the vehicle through the wash, vacuum, clean windows and perform other detailing services.

Function: Aka device. Every component of the carwash that gets turned on/off during the wash process is controlled by a function or device.

FWP (front wheel pull): Roller comes up behind the left front wheel, engaging the wheel, and pulls the car through the tunnel.


Gate switch: Often the photo eye that marks the start of counting pulses to determine vehicle length.

Gear box: Transfers motion from electric and hydraulic motors to output shafts that drive conveyor mitters and brushes.

Gear reducers: Aka speed reducers. This mechanical part slows down the shaft speed to transfer the rotational speed into power for the equipment.


Halo rinse: Aka high-pressure rinse, high-volume rinse, booster rinse, medium-pressure rinse. Thoroughly removes all soap and three-color foam from vehicle prior to final rinse.

Hand wash (conveyorized): Conveyor wash with workers wearing large mitts that wash the vehicle, rather than using mechanical mitters and side washers.

Heco gear box: Transfers motion from the hydraulic motor to the conveyor chain sprocket and is typically found in the drive section of the conveyor.

High-pressure: Pressurized washing equipment able to flush dirt out of areas where friction wash materials cannot reach. Optimum results are achieved when friction and high-pressure wash technologies are present in a tunnel wash.

High-pressure lines: Hose lines that connect pumps and equipment, directing air or water through the systems. Often times the flexible hose is covered with a mesh-type braided wire to provide extra strength.

High-pressure pump stations: Delivers high-pressure water to the high-pressure cleaning components.

High-pressure wash/washers: System of rotating water jets, arranged like a pinwheel, that spray concentrated streams of water onto the car. Often used on the lower portion of the vehicle to remove mud, dirt and salt. Typically the third step in the carwash process.

High-pressure side washers: Washers that blast high-pressure streams of water at side surfaces and wheels.

High-pressure top washers: Often mounted to an overhead arch, these washers feature various numbers and types of moving nozzles that blast high-pressure streams of water at top surfaces.

Hoses: Another word for lines.

HP (Horsepower): Term which identifies engine performance.

Hydraulic(s): An application of mechanical properties of water and other liquids in engineering.

Hydraulic fluid: Typically mineral oil, water or water-based fluids used in hydraulic equipment. Often fluid is dyed to quickly identify a hydraulic leak from a water leak.

Hydraulic hoses: Used to deliver the pressurized oil from power packs to the hydraulic motors in the tunnel.

Hydraulic motor: Drives equipment (wraps, brushes, mitters, conveyors, oscillators, Omni’s) by converting pressurized oil provided by the power packs into rotational motion. Hydraulic motors use internal gear motors to produce pressurized hydraulic fluid, which transfers rotational energy to mechanical devices.

Hydraulic power packs: Aka power units. Units that provide power in the form of pressurized oil to the various pieces of hydraulic motors that turn the conveyor and the brushes and oscillate the high-pressure components.

Hydrominder: Device used to mix chemical and water that uses a float assembly to control the level in the solution tank. An eductor draws chemical from the barrel and mixes with water using a Venturi valve.

Hydronic boiler: Aka floor heat boiler. Heats and circulates antifreeze/water mixture through tubes in concrete, aprons and sidewalks to prevent ice buildup (see “apron”).


In-bay automatic carwash: Aka rollover. Type of carwash that is self-contained in a small bay and cycles over or around the vehicle while it is placed in park. Often found at gas stations and convenience stores.

Induction loops: Pads or stands, can be either underground or surface-mounted, and are used to detect a vehicle passing over it by measuring a change in the magnetic pressure. This sensor also signals when a vehicle has left the wash. An inductive loop is the antenna of an active circuit.

Infrared beam: Light emitted by photo eye that sends a signal to the computer system which identifies vehicle dimensions.

In-line filter: A filter assembly in which the inlet, outlet and filter element axes are in a straight line.


Kickoff plate: Required for surface conveyors to cause vehicle to roll forward at end of conveyor to prevent roller jamming.


Light beam: Aka light beam sensors, entrance loop, gate switch. Used to measure vehicle length, one of the most common is the photo eye, used at the entrance.

Light touch friction: Part of wash cycle that uses brushes with light pressure to clean.

Lines: Another term for hoses and/or pipes.

Liquid applicator arch/Liquid dual applicator arch: Provides complete coverage of the vehicle with liquid presoak solution before entering wash cycle.

Loop detector: System that senses a vehicle, consisting of an inductive loop and a detector module which includes a signal control and vehicle count.

Low-pressure hoses: Often flexible lines, such as those found in the foaming arch, used to dispense fluids at a steady, even flow.

Low-profile roller: Used to push or pull the vehicle while on the conveyor, this style provides more clearance for low-profile vehicles and gives easily when pressure is applied.

Lubricant: Substance (often a liquid) introduced between two moving surfaces to reduce the friction and wear between them. A lubricant provides a protective film which allows for two touching surfaces to be separated, thus lessening the friction between them (colloquially, lube).

Lubricity: The measure of resistance to friction on a surface.


Magnetic switch: A sensor that detects roller position or conveyor speed, and used for collision avoidance.

Manifold: A pipe or chamber having multiple apertures for making connections.

Metal flange bearings: Used when a shaft axis is perpendicular to the bearing mounting surface. Usually used on rotational bearings, but can also be used on pivoting bearings.

Metal pillow block bearings: Housing with an offset flat mounting surface that serves as the opening to connect a shaft, (revolving rod or pole) that transmits power or motion (see “pillow block bearings”).

Metering tips: Plug-in or screw-in tips used to regulate the ratio of a non-diluted chemical to a hydrominder mixing tank or other pump assembly. Tips vary in size signified by different colors. Different applications require different tip sizes. The smallest tip (plug) is clear and the largest tip (plug) is gray.

Microclean: Twisted fiber material with ¼ foot loft. Best when used in mitters, side brushes and wrap-arounds.

Micron: One millionth of a meter.

Mid-profile roller: Used to push or pull the vehicle while on the conveyor and provides a tall enough profile to push most vehicles and provide sufficient clearance for most vehicles (standard).

Mirror blasters: Rinses soap, wax and reclaim water out of a sideview mirror using highp-pressure.

Mirror rinse: Applies spot-free water to sideview mirrors to prevent spotting, or freshwater to help remove soap, wax and reclaim water.

Mitter: Machine that suspends and oscillates wash material on the horizontal surfaces of a vehicle to affect cleaning of the top surfaces of an automobile.

Motor: Electric or hydraulic. Creates energy and motion to pumps, brushes and gear boxes.

Motor control center (MCC): “Brain” of the carwash operation and considered “finger safe,” the system controls the carwash equipment to maximize cleaning performance at optimum chemical consumption. The MCC houses the starters, switching and overload protection devices for electric motors used in the carwash system. The MCC operates a variety of motors on different devices and machines. It contains motor starters, circuit breakers and manual on/ off controls for all three-phase motors on equipment without automatic controls.

Motor shafts: A rotating or oscillating round, straight bar for transmitting motion and torque. Usually supported on bearings and carrying gears or wheels, i.e., ship propeller shaft or engine drive shaft.


Needle valve: A type of valve with a small opening and a threaded, needle-like plunger that allows precise regulation of flow for metering applications when constant flow must be maintained.

Neo Glide/Neoglide: Soft, durable closed-cell foam that doesn’t absorb water and requires lubrication so it won’t drag on vehicle surfaces.

Nozzle: A precision component with a spray pattern indicating whether the equipment is in top, working order. A clogged nozzle or weak spray pattern will not provide full coverage and can immediately affect the cleaning ability of the wash.


Oscillate: To swing back and forth with a steady, uninterrupted rhythm like a pendulum.

Over-under conveyor: Aka RCV conveyor, automatic roller-up conveyor. Type of conveyor that has hidden pushers continuously traveling on a level under the surface. Only when a pusher is needed to push a car is one lifted into the working position.

Ozonation: Process of injecting ozone into water to inhibit bacterial growth.


Parallel: When items are pointed/moving/facing the same direction, i.e., when the shaft and the mounting bolts are mounted in the same direction.

Pendulum: High-pressure wheel cleaner that mechanically follows the wheel and doesn’t need adjusting to accommodate different chain speeds.

pH: Measure of hydrogen ions in a solution and, therefore, its acidity or alkalinity. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14, with zero representing low or acidic solutions, seven representing neutral solutions and 14 representing alkaline or basic solutions.

Photo eye: Aka eyes, photoelectric eye. Infrared sensors with a beam between them, which activates the carwash system when a vehicle enters and measures the length and width of the vehicle.

Pillow block bearings: Mount with the shaft perpendicular to the mounting bolts. Used to support hinge points or rotational points on universal joints, which absorbs constant wear.

PLC (programmable logic control): Term relating to knowledge base to adjust and/or repair MCC.

POS: Point-of-sale.

Poly flow hose: Hard plastic tubing used to carry diluted chemical and air from the equipment room out to the tunnel.

Poodle brush: See “tire brush.”

Prep gun pump: Aka pressure washer. High-pressure pump and gun assembly used for tunnel equipment cleaning as well as prepping hard-to-clean vehicles.

Presoak: Automated nozzle or handheld applicator that sprays water/solution over the car in the initial wash stage to wet the vehicle before detergents are added and to loosen dirt and oil.

Presoak application: First step in the carwash. The act of applying a solution/water to a vehicle prior to the wash.

Pressure pad: Aka pressure pad sensors, tire switches, floor switches, tire pads or tape switches. Sensors that locate the position of the tire to let the wash know where and how far apart the wheels are.

Pressure washer: A mechanical device that uses high-pressure water to remove mold, grime, dust, mud and dirt from surfaces and objects such as buildings, vehicles and concrete road surfaces.

Programmable: Refers to a setting in the tunnel controller that will turn on extra devices not included in the base wash for the carwash.

PSI: Pounds per square inch of air pressure.

Pulley: A wheel with a groove(s) on it to secure a rope or belt used to change the direction and/ or create rotational movement.

Pulse switch: Aka pulse generator, remote pulse. A switch that measures the chain travel and communicates with the tunnel controller to turn equipment on/off. This key sensor alerts carwash managers and operators when equipment activates too quickly or shuts off early. It may be located in the back room or in the drive section of the conveyor.

Pumps: Term used to identify the number of squirts from a grease gun, i.e., grease bearing with three pumps (three squirts).

PVDF nozzle: Polyvinylidene-fluoride. Type of nozzle used in cleaning operations. Rotary or multinozzle configurations are common.


Radiant heat: Heat that is delivered through manifolds throughout the tunnel and equipment room utilizing hot water.

Rain arch: Arch that completely rinses the hood, trunk, grooves and sides of a vehicle and eliminates fan-nozzle mist in the drying room.

Rear wheel push (RWP): A type of conveyor in which the roller comes up behind the rear wheel and the car is pushed through the tunnel.

Reclaim and odor control system: Equipment system that uses filters to process reclaimed water, reduces freshwater usage by 70 percent or more and controls odors by producing ozone.

Reclaim water: Aka wastewater recycling. Creates a cleaner wash and helps provide extremely clean cars. Consider the fact that because you are reusing “free” reclaim water, you can use as much as you want. There is no longer a need to reduce water flows to the wash cycles to reduce water usage. In fact, you can increase the flow to provide optimum washing.

Relay stations: A device that responds to a small current or voltage change by activating switches or other devices in an electric circuit.

Retract stop position: Adjustment found on the driver’s side of the vehicle of the tire brush that stops the tire brush ¼ inch before the guide rail of the conveyor.

Reverse osmosis (RO) systems: Removal of organic and suspended impurities from water by the use of one or more semipermeable membranes.

Rinse aid: A water-like chemical applied to the vehicle surface after the final rinse for easier water removal during the drying process.

Rinse arch: An arch with nozzles that spray clean water on the vehicle to remove whatever residue is left after the wash.

Rocker brushes: Aka side rockers, baby rockers, rocker washers. Wash rocker panel’s lower side up to bottom of vehicle’s side windows up to 28 inches tall.

Rocker panel/undercarriage: Portion of a vehicle’s side that is below a straight line between the tops of both tires. This is washed by brushes or high-pressure spray on the sides and bottom of the vehicle.

Roll bar assembly: Rotating device that spans the correlator and directs a vehicle’s tires onto the wash conveyor.

Roller-on-demand: Conveyor operational feature that moves a pusher into working position on the conveyor track to move a car through the carwash.

Rollover wash: Type of wash where the customer drives into position and sits stationary while the equipment moves over and around the car. Typically found at gas/service stations.

Roller up: Aka roller raiser, dolly up raiser forks. Lifts roller in position to pull or push vehicle.

Rotating tire brush: A 96-inch pencil brush that rotates down toward the floor to scrub the tire and is used in conjunction with the chemical tire applicator.

Rotation speed: Number of rotations/revolutions around a center.

RPM (revolutions per minute): The amount of rotations a given object makes in one minute. Used to gauge the speed on various pieces of equipment. To determine RPM, count how many times the object moves in 10 seconds and multiply by six.

Rust inhibitor: Chemical application applied to the underside of the vehicle in the wash process that prevents/reduces rust formation.

RWP (rear wheel push): Refers to the type of conveyor used to push the vehicle from the rear tire.


Sealer wax: Aka clear coat protectant. Usually a petroleum-based product used to bond to the vehicle’s clear coat surface for added protection from contaminants and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Typically, an extra service purchased.

Sensors: Type of transducer, i.e., light beam, pressure pads, induction loops, float sensors, magnetic switches.

Self-serve: Wash where the customer performs all the labor. Generally the customer drives into a bay (coin-operated business) and washes the car with a high-pressure hose and a foaming brush connected to a central pump. Most self-service carwashes are coin-operated brush-and-hose combinations the driver uses to dispense soap, wash the car and rinse it off.

Service: A correction of a situation, i.e., leak, crack or equipment repair in the wash.

Setting arch: Aka plating arch, final rinse rain arch. Assists in beading and shedding the drying agent and excess water from all vehicle surfaces making it ready for the dryers.

Shaft: A cylindrical bar that rotates and transmits power or motion, i.e., the drive shaft of a motor.

Shim plate: A tool used to set the distance between objects.

Shocks: Aka shock absorber — also see spring-loaded, compressed air shock, gas shocks. Part which controls the impact of motions.

Shower head/shower head foaming applicator: A device which can be used as a soap applicator. Typically has an adjustable socket to adjust for consistency based on the air and solution.

Side brush: Aka side washers, van brush. Cleans side surfaces of vehicle from 35 to 63 inches high.

Side-to-side mitter: Aka wash across. Cleans horizontal surfaces of the car with side-to-side motion and is normally placed after the triple foam applicator.

Signal strength: Aka gate switch. The strength of the beam on the photo electric eye which should be set between seven and nine to clearly transmit a signal for the tunnel controller to calculate vehicle length.

Silencer: Pan-like dryer attachment filled with acoustical foam that covers the dryer producer inlets to reduce noise levels.

Silicone: Sealing compound with a wide range of resistance to heat and which is extremely water repellant.

Solenoid: Control mechanism energized by a device such as a switch or a relay. Solenoids control the movement of water, air and/or chemical to the tunnel equipment from the back room control system. Back room pump stations use solenoid valves, i.e., CTAs, tire shiners, reclaim odor control systems and the spot-free rinse systems.

Solvent: Liquid that dissolves solids and liquids, and produces a solution.

Split collars: Aka split collar couplers, split couplers. Used to join a hollow shaft to a solid shaft, securing the yoke with two screws, i.e., the brush spindle with the hydraulic pump.

Spot-free systems: Aka reverse osmosis (RO) systems. Processes city water into spot-free water.

Spot-free rinse arch: Aka spot-free rinse system. Applies spot-free water to entire vehicle to prevent spotting.

Spring-loaded shock: Aka spring-loaded shock absorber. Mechanical device that uses a coil spring to absorb pressure and create a smooth linear motion.

Sprocket: Aka drive sprocket, take-up sprocket. Pulls or guides chain through conveyor; 12- and 14-tooth are standard.

Stand-alone odor control system: A component added to an existing reclaim system to reduce bacteria and smells.

Steel block chain: Aka C-188. Solid links connected by a flat bar of steel, which uses pins and cotter pins. Easy to replace/repair.

Surface conveyor: Mounts on floor surface; no center trench is required. A conveyor in which the rollers ride completely on the surface. The advantage of this conveyor, rather than the over-under conveyor, is that a surface conveyor does not require a conveyor pit.

Swaging tool: A tool that uses a pusher and die to compress fittings onto a hose.


Take-up section: Section of the conveyor located at the entrance of the tunnel that takes up the slack in a chain, has spring or air-sockets, keeps the chain the chain at the proper tension and protects the chain from sudden stops.

Tall-profile roller: Used to push larger vehicles with larger diameter tires.

Temperature gauge: A device used to indicate the temperature of the item being monitored. Hydraulic power packs have a temperature gauge to monitor the heat generated.

Three-color foamer: Aka triple foam, show head triple foam. Applies three-color foam wax or polish/conditioner to vehicle.

Tire applicators: Nozzles, near the ground, which spray the tires with a solution designed to remove brake dust and brighten the black rubber of the tire.

Tire dressing: Used to add shine and protect tires from UV rays. There are three types of product typically used to dress tires. A water-based product is used often in this application and has a creamy white quality. A solvent-based product is sometimes used and has a clear, shiny quality. The product used with the most frequency nowadays is a silicon product, which has a clear, blue, shiny and viscous quality. The silicon product has the highest gloss and lasts the longest.

Tire brushes: Cleans white and black tire walls (also see poodle brush-wheels & rims with the poodle brush).

Tire shiner: A unit that applies tire dressing to tires automatically in the wash process.

Tire switch: Aka tire pad, tape switch. Locates position of tires and communicates with tunnel controller to turn equipment on/off.

Titration: Quantitative/chemical analysis used to determine the concentration of a chemical when another chemical is introduced to the solution inside a flask or beaker.

Top brush: A piece of equipment used to clean the horizontal surfaces of vehicles which features a counterweight to achieve the perfect balance while cleaning the vehicle.

Top motor side washers: Used to clean side surfaces from the rocker panels to the body moldings.

Torque: Aka torque plate. Force that rotates or turn things.

Tracking bars: Placed along passenger side of vehicle to guide vehicle to inside rail and not outside. Also ensures tires do not grip on concrete.

Transducer: An electronic device that converts energy from one form to another.

Translucent: When light passes through while diffusing it.

Triple foam: Three different colored foam chemicals applied to vehicle as it passes through the wash tunnel. Extra service that generates additional revenue and is eye-pleasing to the customer.

Tuffy pad: A brillo-type material inside a foamer which aids in foaming.

Tunnel: Where the conveyor/washing equipment is located.

Tunnel controller: Communicates between carwash equipment and motor control center measuring vehicles and turning equipment on/off in accordance to wash type.

Turbo nozzle: A nozzle that creates high-pressure streams.


Ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW): Aka “plastic bearings” and “greaseless” bearings. It is the material composition that makes these parts unique. Impact strength is high, and chemical resistance is excellent.

Underbody/undercarriage: Bottom structure of vehicle.

Undercarriage wash/applicator: Rinses undercarriage of vehicle. Device delivers high volumes of wash water to the underside of vehicles to remove mud and salt. Can also be used as a rust inhibitor applicator.

Universal joint: Joint between two shafts not in a straight line, which transmits rotary motion.


Venturi: A fitting or device that consists of a tube constricted in the middle and flared on both ends. A fluid’s velocity will increase and a fluid’s pressure will decrease while passing through the constriction. Placing a tube or pipe at the constriction point creates a vacuum. Fluid or air can then be drawn in through the tube. The system is named after Italian scientist Giovanni Battista Venturi.

VFD (variable frequency drive): Aka variable frequency drive control center. Control device that regulates the speed of the dryer motors, reduces operating costs and prolongs motor life.


Washer extractor: Industrial-grade equipment for washing and drying towels used by attendants to dry vehicles at full-service tunnels.

Wash retract: Retracts brushes to rest position and is programmable to retract brushes around damaged or delicate vehicles.

Water hardness: Soluble metal salts (principally those of calcium and magnesium, and sometimes iron and manganese), which create cleaning problems when present in water in sufficient amounts. These metal salts remain on a vehicle after the water evaporates, leaving white spots.

Water heater: Heats water in cold climates and winter. Used primarily for detergents, final rinsing and RO.

Water manifold: Pre-plumbs solenoid valves for a low cost.

Water softener: Removes minerals, solids and chlorine from hard water. Primarily used for detergents and spot-free systems.

Water softener system: Softens the water used in the tunnel for cleaning. Softened water does a much better job cleaning in all detergent applicator systems. Softened water is not needed for the high-pressure nozzles and for the rinse/wax/sealer applicators, as harder water actually works better. System should be sized for the maximum number of cars ever expected.

Water stabilizer: A five-metal alloy, primarily nickel, designed to prevent scaling of the RO membrane.

Wax: An optional sealer applied to a vehicle which adds additional sheen and protection to the surface. Usually applied by an arch, it forms water-resistant coating on vehicle for shine, polishing and protection. Applied in foam or liquid form.

Welded steel chain: Considered the best chain in the industry for use on over-under conveyors. It has welded sections.

Wetting agent: Substance that reduces the surface tension of a liquid, causing the liquid to spread across or penetrate more easily the surface of a solid.

Wipe-O-Matic: Equipment placed after a blower system that has overlapping, man-made synthetic chamois cloths to wipe and absorb water from the surface of the vehicle.

Wheel and tire chemical applicator: Device for spraying cleaning solution onto wheels and tires.

Wrap-around brushes/washers: Rotating brushes attached to knuckling arms for cleaning all vertical surfaces: front, sides and rear of vehicles. This piece of equipment features a restricted universal joint and dampening shock system to safely navigate around mirrors, antennas and rear wiper blades. Types include: reverse and straight, jog and double jog, and spyder.

Wrap foamer: Applies lubricating detergent to a vehicle prior to the wrap-around brush to promote safe, smooth operation.

Wrap retract: Retracts brushes to the rest position and is programmable to retract brushes around damaged or delicate vehicles.