Self-serve versus in-bay - Professional Carwashing & Detailing
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In-bay Automatics

Self-serve versus in-bay

Which wash format is right for you?


First, let’s look at the different bay wash models and compare their main features.

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  1. Self-serve models are typically set up as in-bay stalls with high-pressure wands or guns outfitted with the ability to switch from initial prep to soap and even a hot wax application.
  2. Most in-bays are also outfitted with their own individual drainage outlet having one at each stall that feeds into a central system.
  3. Almost all self-serve carwashes have some type of vacuuming set up that utilizes its own pay system with the option of either tokens and/or quarters.
  4. Self-serve carwashes practically invented the idea of having vending machines at carwashes, and with growing popularity, they are now even more prevalent.

The main reason someone like a potential new investor or operator would want to consider a self-serve or in bay automatic/rollover is simply space. The great thing about self-serves is they fit into areas like gas stations or corner lots that are small. If you have around 10,000 square feet, you can put one of these carwashes in and it will cost you a fraction of what a tunnel carwash would be.


Depending on your time and ability to invest, these self-serve models offer a great return on your investment. The only factor that would limit your earning potential is the number of washes that are in your portfolio. To have a high generator capability in this model, it is important to have several washes that are performing well, and of course the key here as always is location, location, location.

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