Friction Vs. Touchless Car Washes

A Comparison of Two Different Automatic Inbay Car Wash Approaches

Tommy Inbay Conversion

In 2016 there are a number of different options available for automatic vehicle cleaning, two of the most common being touch-free inbay washes, which use high pressure water jets to loosen and remove dirt and grime, and friction cleaning inbay car washes which use high pressure blasters in conjunction with foam or cloth brushes. Both wash types have their fans and detractors, and both have advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Processing Speed

Touchless inbay car washes are known to be relatively slow, processing only one vehicle at a time and taking between 4-6 minutes for each car (10-15 cars per hour total). This can result in long lines on good wash days and wasted opportunity.

Conveyorized friction cleaning car washes are speedier, with short inbay models washing 15-25 cars per hour at around 3 minutes per car and longer conveyors washing up to 50 cars per hour (depending on the specific equipment installed).


Even with modern presoaks, detergents, and laser-guided contouring, touchless car washes have difficulty dealing with heavy dirt or mud, road grime, bugs, and other hard-to-remove debris.

Brush equipped car washes generally perform better, using soft cloth and foam brushes with a thick layer of body soap to lift and remove debris from all visible surfaces of the car, including hard-to-reach places like rocker panels and side view mirror contours.


Recent advantages in car wash brush materials have resulted in outstanding increases in wash safety across all vehicle types. Today’s soft cloth and closed-cell foam material is lighter, does not absorb water, and lasts much longer between replacements. However, vehicles with loose components, aftermarket components (such as roof racks or undercarriage lighting), or heavy rust damage should not use express car washes.

In these situations, as well as those involving certain ‘special needs’, touch free washes or handwashing often present a better option, reducing pressure and eliminating physical contact.

Establishment and Operations

Inbay car washes, whether they be equipped with cloth or a touch-free system, have the advantage of being low profile, compact, and relatively inexpensive to build and maintain—contributing to their frequent use as secondary profit centers incorporated in auto dealerships and gas stations.

However, friction cleaning systems frequently provide operators with greater revenue due to the system’s increased cleaning performance and faster processing speeds.

For this reason, Tommy Car Wash Systems offers a comprehensive Inbay Conversion System, which brings the processing speed and cleaning power of a conveyor-equipped express car wash into an existing touchless inbay or rollover building. The result is a fully conveyorized micro car wash tunnel equipped with our propriety Triple Presoak arch, soft cloth cleaning modules, and circular applicator arches.

To learn more, visit our Inbay Conversion system page HERE or contact the Tommy Car Wash Systems team directly at

Tommy Car Wash Systems.

3 thoughts on “Friction Vs. Touchless Car Washes

  • December 9, 2017 at 1:16 am

    I am interested in pricing and info on a touchless car wash system

    • December 10, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      Hello Richard,
      We only provide friction cleaning systems. You can see our site models at and price individual components at
      Please feel free to contact a representative if you have any questions.

  • March 1, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Car washes were always my favorite thing as a kid! I love seeing all the soap and how loud it can be. And your car always looks so nice at the end!


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