Understanding the 5 Elements of Wash Quality


For the best operators, wash quality is an obsession to be checked and maintained every, single, day. But first new operators must first understand each of the factors at work in the car wash tunnel and how they fit together to determine wash performance—particularly during busy, high volume periods.


These five elements are:



Each wash product has a particular function, recommended dilution ratio, and pH value. For instance, Tommy 360-C (our proprietary presoak application) is quite alkaline in order to effectively cut through stubborn vehicle stains such as road tar or bug smear. On the other hand, Tommy Brite, our body soap, is slightly acidic in order to balance out the overall pH of the wash tunnel.


If the pH values of the products applied are not correctly neutralized by the end of the wash it results in extremely poor drying performance with “sticky” sheets of water lying heavily on the vehicle’s exterior.


In the same way, if the dilutions of the product are not correct operators will experience higher overhead, drying residue, or diminished performance across the wash tunnel. Maintaining proper chemical performance is a daily process!



Just like a hot cycle in your dishwasher or washing machine removes soils better than a cold cycle, using the proper temperature water in the tunnel activates the various wash products at work. This means certain functions should receive heated water while others can be kept cool to control costs.


High air temperatures are also important, as they promote vastly better drying performance at the end of the tunnel. Heated blowers are generally recommended for car wash developments in cooler or seasonal climates.


Friction / Pressure

Friction defines the contact of different cleaning materials on the car, while pressure refers to the force of water sprayed across the vehicle. Both are vital for effective cleaning performance.


Soft-cloth or closed cell foam brushes, which are continuously and heavily lubricated with body soap, provide the physical cleaning power to lift dirt and grime away from the car safely. These must be kept clean, lubricated properly, and replaced when they begin to wear out.


High pressure spray delivers cleaning compounds to all sections of the car with enough strength to expose the more-stubborn materials so the presoak or conditioner can get to work. Lower pressure is used for areas where damage could occur under high pressure conditions, such as the undercarriage, or with applications like UV protectant which don’t require forceful application.



All wash products, from presoak to hot wax, need a set amount of dwell time to perform their functions effectively. In a busy tunnel car wash, this time is often a matter of seconds, and if the products are rinsed away or diluted prematurely the quality of the car wash will suffer.


As a result operators must select products designed to work effectively at high conveyor speeds during peak operating hours. Car wash equipment should also be laid out in such a way as to provide just enough working room between each function.


Water Quality

Hard water is the bane of many a car wash. A high mineral content prevents car wash soap from properly lathering up, leaves behind an unappetizing residue instead of a spot-free shine, and can also wear down equipment prematurely and cause damage over time. Water hardness must be investigated thoroughly and corrected with the use of water softeners and reverse osmosis systems, in order to provide high quality water for wash functions.


Always remember: wash quality is YOUR PRODUCT. Let it slip and the long term consequences will be far greater than a handful of dissatisfied customers. Instead, work constantly to improve and protect your results, including the results of washes at your lowest menu tiers.


Treat your customers right and work to give them the best possible result for their money. They will notice!



If you are interested in investing in a high quality, national car wash franchise we invite you to consider the Tommy’s Express Car Wash Franchise. You can also visit the Tommy Car Wash Systems webstore to find high performance, specially formulated express car wash detergents products and equipment.


Tommy Car Wash Systems


Five Ways the Totally Tommy Car Wash Design Reduces Car Wash Labor


Ask most car wash managers, or retail business managers in general, what the hardest part of running the business is, and they’ll likely to tell you that it’s not the equipment, the materials, or the customers – it’s managing the people. Even with a fantastic team, balancing everyone’s schedules, hiring, and training requires a huge amount of time and energy.


At Tommy Car Wash Systems we are proud of our car wash system, which allows for extremely high car wash production with the lowest labor possible, keeping teams small and making it easier than ever for managers and operators to focus on the team members they have and give them the flexibility, training, support, and communication they need to be truly excellent in their role.


Specifically, our system reduces labor by:


Eliminating Manual Prep with the Triple Presoak

Manually prepping cars with a sprayer wand is labor-intensive, monotonous, and inefficient. Car washes that still rely on this approach waste an entire team member in an unnecessary role and end up expending far more water and car wash detergent for a less standardized presoak result.


The Triple Presoak Arch by Tommy Car Wash Systems, also called the Bug, Body, and Backend Autoprep Arch, automates this process with ranks of highly-targeted high pressure nozzles and a thorough application of Tommy 360-C. This process speeds loading times compared to a manual prep system, delivers a highly standardized and precise result, and is able to maintain performance under high volume conditions. In fact, the system operates best in non-stop busy tunnels and tightly-loaded conditions, as it efficiently applies product to the back of one vehicle and the front of the next continuously.


Streamlining loading with the Tommy Transporter Dual Belt Conveyor and Self-Loading Entrance Module

Dual belt conveyors have been demonstrated to improve loading times and reduce customer anxiety, as they provide a wider target and eliminate all roller-related loading errors. This reduces downtime and allows vehicles to load closer, faster, and with more confidence over time.


In the same way, the Self-Loading Entrance Module offers very clear instruction with both audio and visual cues for customers. During low volume periods, established washes using the Tommy Transporter and Self-Loading Entrance Module generally do not use a loader unless a customer needs assistance.


Incorporating the Wash Club License Plate Recognition System

Memberships, no matter the format, increase wash production by eliminating the payment step – or rather converting that payment process to an automatic monthly one that happens in the background. The Wash Club LPR system takes this concept one step farther, however, by allowing customers to purchase and modify memberships directly from their smartphones by using their vehicle’s license plate number.


When the new member arrives at the car wash for the first time the system is already ready to immediately read and accept their vehicle into the wash bay without any input or time spent at the cashier window entering data or applying a radio tag. Over the life of the wash this system saves countless hours of energy and delay and increases a customers’ control over their account as well as the convenience and flexibility the membership offers them.


Incorporating the Flight Deck Design

The Flight Deck Design principle takes the cashier station and enhances it until it becomes a central control hub for the entire car wash, providing lines of sight as well as immediate physical access to the pay queue, cashier station, loading area, and the entire car wash bay. Touchscreens put the entire wash under instant control of any single employee, and security cameras and glass man doors effectively shrink the site, allowing fewer workers to do more and to do it more efficiently.


Extensively Automating Wash Systems

Powered by Guardian Wash Command, Tommy Car Wash Systems offers one of the most automated and advanced wash control suites available in the industry today – including the Tommy Premium Advantage. In essence, the TPA is a relay system which connects the wash controller and a series of iPads and allows the tablets to be used, essentially, as remote controls. Staff can use these tools to monitor wash functions in real-time, troubleshoot errors, and adjust settings from any location on-site. They are also used for routine hourly walkthroughs and checklists.


For more information on any of this equipment, or the Totally Tommy car wash site design as a whole, visit our site-models page or the various listings in our car wash webstore. If you have questions, please use our contact page.


Tommy Car Wash Systems



Taking Advantage of Blue Water Markets


Location is critical for the success of any business, and car washes in particular rely on the strength of their site to drive traffic and customer awareness. This makes site selection one of, if not the single most important step when founding a new car wash. But even an ideal location with good traffic count, size, layout, and proximity to desirable destinations like shopping malls or grocery stores, can be undone by a single, often overlooked factor: competition.


It’s tempting to only build in your own backyard, setting up a marvelous car wash with down-the-street convenience in your own community and accepting moderate success as a result. But first take an honest look at the area and the car washes already established there.


If your local market is already claimed (much less saturated) by entrenched older car washes with established customer bases, you’ll soon find yourself locked in a fierce marketing and price battle for the attention of a set population. While it is possible to win these competitions (particularly with high quality equipment and a service model that boasts faster, better results) the fallout will drag down all players, with the advantage going to the wash with the bigger reserves and membership pool.


The best bet is to avoid the issue altogether and search for an ideal site in a local area with no express car wash competition whatsoever. These locations, ironically, are often found in smaller communities, home to low-power car wash solutions like in-bay automatics and populations who will immediately notice the new facility and the difference a real car wash can make.


Admittedly, this investment-minded strategy may add to your commute. But a blue-ocean site selection approach can yield a far larger, undivided customer pool and open up high quality car wash service to communities which have never experienced it before, with raving customers and higher wash counts as a result.



As always, if you are currently in the process of developing your own car wash, consider the Totally Tommy wash design by Tommy Car Wash Systems, featuring a cohesive car wash layout, architecture, high-end wash equipment, and labor-saving automation technology. Learn more HERE!


Tommy Car Wash Systems


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