How Much Money Does a Car Wash Make?

Car wash businesses can make a lot of money but they need to be in a good location. They also need to offer a competitive price to consumers who aren't always looking to spend big bucks on getting their car washed. Since washing a car isn't a top priority, and there is a lot of competition, this can cut into profit margins. However, there are many things you can do to make a car wash more profitable.


The car wash came along in the sixties, offering an easier way to keep a car clean. They were extremely profitable in the 1970's and when automated car washes came along in the eighties and nineties many people made a lot of money operating them. Today car washes are not as profitable because people spend less on luxuries and tend to wash cars themselves to save a buck or two, or not wash them at all.


Washing a car was sort of like a ritual to some people back in the heyday of the automobile.People do it on Saturday afternoons and make a morning or afternoon out of it. To make a car wash profitable you need to offer a good service at a really low price. Even though people can do it themselves, it doesn't mean they want to. So, if your car wash is cheap enough, and saves them time customers will come.


A general conception used to be that car washes made a lot of money. You could build an automated car wash and rely on a steady business. However, that is not always true. The cost of supplies, detergents and upkeep on a car wash takes a big bite out of profits. Owners need to carefully consider the cost of materials, how much is used during the car wash and the economy.


Car washes are more popular in cities where people do not have access to a hose and an area to wash their own cars. However, the cost of real estate in these areas is higher and therefore the car wash overhead is more. You also have more competition, so you can not charge more for a car wash in the city. In the south, car washes can operate year round, and people tend to use them more often in the nice weather. In the north, people are concerned about road salt and need to wash their cars in the winter, but they do not do it as frequently as they do in the summer.


If you are interested in opening a car wash you need to carefully take note of the cost per wash of facilities already in the area. You should then find a location with plenty of traffic that will draw in more customers. After this you need to research zoning regulations and find out if you can put up a large sign, if there is the proper sewer and drainage requirements. Finally you need to find a vendor that can supply the equipment and materials to operate the car wash.


About the Author

Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.