Blog: Overcoming Labor Challenges with the Right Car Wash Equipment

Finding and retaining talent is increasingly difficult for all types of businesses, including car washes. Car wash employees often have to work outdoors for long hours in extreme weather and their roles are very labor intensive and strenuous. Meanwhile, many manufacturers are heating up the hiring battle by increasing wages in their production plants and warehouses, leaving a smaller pool of workers from which car washes can pull.

In fact, some car wash operations are having so much trouble attracting employees that they have turned to self-service models for some tasks like interior vacuuming. This means that customers must be willing to put in a bit of work themselves in order to drive off the lot with a clean car.

Giving drivers a great car wash experience is key for securing repeat business and positive word-of-mouth in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Thus, car wash owners and managers need to have the right reliable equipment in place to reduce time-consuming and frustrating manual tasks that pull staff away from their primary duties or increase their workloads.

Chemicals Can Make or Break Car Wash Success

Aside from labor, the highest variable cost that car washes face is tied to chemical consumption. Car washes use numerous types of chemicals, including buffing compounds, lubricants, drying agents and polishes. These require precise dilution ratios to deliver the best clean.

If the ratios are not accurate and too much chemical is being dispensed, this wastes product and drastically drives up the cost of doing business. On the contrary, if not enough chemical is being dispensed, cars will not emerge as spotless as they should. Then, either customers will leave unhappy or the vehicle will need to be washed again at the owner’s expense. Both scenarios can aggravate customers and lead them to choose a competitor’s car wash next time.

To ensure accurate dilutions and uphold quality service, car wash owners rely on chemical dispensers and pumps. Water driven pumps (WDPs) are commonly used because they provide longer residence time of the chemical on the car, thereby removing more dirt and grime. These pumps can provide chemical mixed with water on demand, reducing the installation footprint and the amount of premixed chemical and water that needs to be maintained.

Identifying a WDP that Supports your Staff

To ensure understaffed operations can remain productive and profitable, car wash owners need to find a chemical dispenser that will not:

  • Need frequent repairs and maintenance. Repairs pull employees away from their main duties and can negatively impact the customer experience.
  • Increase chemical, water and electricity costs. Higher chemical, water and electricity costs can impact profitability as wages increase.
  • Negatively impact wash results. Poor wash results mean that employees either have to put in more manual labor to get cars clean or get vehicles back on the conveyer for a second time. Unsatisfactory washes can also impact tips, which are essential for workers.

Consider the following factors when selecting a WDP:

  • Chemical compatibility. Find one pump that is compatible with neutral, acid- and alkaline-based chemistries and can handle super concentrates. These pumps will last longer without wearing down and will be able to adjust to different dilution rates.
  • Durability. Select a pump that can last for several years without requiring replacement. Also, since car washes often run up to 12 hours per day, pumps need to function under high use with minimal downtime. Less maintenance translates to a lower cost of ownership and can free up capital for employee raises or bonuses.
  • Accuracy. Some dispensing systems produce inaccurate dilutions. If ratios are off by more or less than 10%, this can waste chemical or result in subpar washes. Look for equipment that uses perfluoropolymer (FFKM) seals to avoid system failures.

A Roadmap for Success

The world is facing record-high job openings and many car washes are unfortunately among the businesses that are understaffed. Meanwhile, in many markets, customers have numerous options to choose from due to the concentration of car washes being high. Thus, it’s essential for owners to consider strategies that deliver consistent cleanliness, like investing in reliable chemical dispensing systems. With the right equipment in place, owners can enhance wash results, improve employee morale and retention and reduce rewashes and repairs that require extra labor.

For more information about HydroMinder, visit

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