How to Build a Car Wash

by Leslie Whittaker

Building a car wash can seem like a daunting and tedious undertaking. As it is an investment in your future, be wary of dishonest contractors and make sure you choose the best site. If you are new to the car-wash industry, choosing a reputable full-service distributor may be your best option for building a successful site.

Key Elements

Key elements to building a car wash include selecting the right car-wash type (self-serve with automatic, automatic, express exterior conveyor tunnel or full-service conveyor tunnel), site selection and equipment selection. Pre-planning is essential for minimizing setbacks and preventing overspending.

As with any business venture, location is the most critical element when developing a new car-wash site. Your choice should be based upon the type of car wash you are building, plus demographic information, traffic counts, speed limits, accessibility, visibility, competition and convenience of location for drivers. The site you select should easily drive customers to your wash.

Capital to build the car wash can come from multiple sources, such as banks, Small Business Administration and other government loans, or from family, partners and venture capital firms. To secure financial assistance, an extensive business and financial plan must be developed.

Picking the right car-wash distributor, architect and other professionals to assist in building your car wash is essential. If you are unsure of reputable professionals, select a full-service car-wash distributor with a solid reputation who provides handpicked, trustworthy vendors.

Layout and Build

Begin site layout plans with a local architect or engineer or through your equipment supplier then. Visit the local zoning and permitting office to get approval for zoning, conditional-use and construction permits. Meet with the chosen vendor to ensure all building codes and utility requirements are up to par. Then complete construction plans and specifications and submit to the city for approval. During this process, work with your equipment distributor to purchase the appropriate car-wash equipment.

Once all plans have been approved and all equipment has been ordered, choose a construction contractor and begin constructing the car-wash building. After construction is completed, install car-wash equipment into the wash bay(s). Turn on the utilities, adjust equipment appropriately and open for business.

While it may seem like an impossible feat, building a car wash is manageable with proper planning and resources, adherence to deadlines and restrictions, and a stellar team of professionals to help pull it all together. Building a car wash is a lengthy and expensive process, but the return on investment has enormous potential.


  • check The best bet for building a car wash is using a full-service car-wash distributor who has the resources and connections to ensure you get the most for your money.


  • close Building a car wash takes a lot of time, patience and money.

Items you will need

About the Author

Leslie Whittaker has been a published writer, graphic designer and communications consultant since 2002. Published works include articles in "Professional Car Wash & Detailing" and "Statis" magazine as well as copy writing for numerous web sites including,, and Whittaker holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications from the University of North Carolina.

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