Regular washing is an important part of auto maintenance. A car's cleanliness contributes to its longevity and to its aesthetic appeal. Because car washing is so important for auto owners, there are many different kinds of car wash facilities available. Coin operated car washes have been and continue to be among the most popular choices, though they have been displaced in recent years by automated car washes and self service car wash centers that accept credit and debit card payments. Coin operated car washes' popularity can be attributed to their convenience and simplicity. They are usually located near the intersections of residential and commercial areas. A centrally-located car wash is available to a large number of motorists, and the relative low cost of coin operated car washes makes them attractive to a range of customers.
The process of using a coin operated car wash begins when a customer inserts coins into the washing equipment. In the case of a washing hose, the number of coins determines the length of time that a water jet will be available to the customer for washing. The same is true for vacuuming equipment, which is also available at many coin operated car washes. Most coin operated car wash systems are on a timer, and the more coins customers insert into the machine, the longer they have to wash their cars. Some customers may pay more for soap or wax options. Coin-op car washes often have a money converting machine, where one or five dollar bills are inserted and quarters are dispensed. Many coin operated systems use coin vaults, which prevent money theft; they are equipped with anti-theft features that reduce or eliminate theft and protect against tampering. Coin vaults usually contain a chamber, which cannot be moved, in which a removable box sits. The money is then extracted at intervals by the car wash's owner or employees.