Auto car washes are drive-through, garage-like tunnels that move cars through rinsing, washing and drying stations. They are sometimes referred to as full service car washes and are an automated alternative to do-it-yourself washing systems. They may stand alone, or they can be attached to gas stations.
Automatic car washes are characterized by their speed and convenience. The washing process of an automated car wash is completely standardized and streamlined; every car that passes through receives exactly the same treatment in the same order for the same period of time. This uniformity of service is beneficial to customers and to the car wash owners. Customers can expect the same level of service every time they visit an auto car wash, while the owners can predict the costs associated with running the car wash within a slim margin of error because of the regularity of each washing cycle. Also, they require a minimum of supervision, which allows for their continued operation during a given day without the attention of a worker. This reduces costs and increases efficiency. Provided that regular maintenance and other care is taken to ensure the peak performance of the car wash equipment, auto car washes can be tremendous assets to their owners and valuable services to their patrons.
When going to an auto car wash, the only work required from the car owner is drive-up payment via automatic cashier and lining the tires on tracks or a conveyer belt. Auto washes are often chosen over self service car washes because they are fast, easy and convenient. After payment, the car is put in neutral and taken through a touchless or cloth friction washing system. Touchless systems are newer versions of car washes, where only high-pressure sprayers come in contact with the car. The cloth friction method uses cloth or foam brushes to scrub the vehicle clean. Nearly every auto car wash also has a drying system, where heated air is blown onto the car until it is dry. Some offer a self-waxing system as the last step in the washing process. Conveyer belts and tracks are used to move the car through each system. Sensors called eyes trigger a computerized control system that enables the washing sequence and adjusts to the car's size.