From a customer perspective, self-service car washes are a fantastic alternative to automated bay washes. Not only do they cost less, but they’re also an opportunity for a personalised car wash.

But what are the business benefits of operating a self-service car wash?

Our experts at PSD Codax, have put together this guide, covering everything you need to know to either improve your existing car wash, or to nail your new development.

Benefits of a Self-Service Car Wash

Before we dive into the ins and outs of launching a car wash business, let’s first look at the customer advantages of a self-service car wash.

Cost Savings

A self-service can wash is great for customers who want to clean their car on a budget. Automated car washes are set at a fixed price, whereas at a self-service car wash, the price varies depending on whether the customer wants a full body wash, or just a simple rinse. It is cheaper because they are only being charged for the use of the machines.

Personalised Clean

Self-service car washes also offer the opportunity for a personalised clean. With automated car washes, the options are limited for an area of the car that needs specific attention. At a self-service car wash, the customer can clean exactly what is needed for as long as they require, instead of a pre-selected rhythm and general all-over clean.

Suitable Products

Self-service car washes are far safer for paint details. Some detergents used in automated car washes can be too harsh for certain paints, which can cause damage or dull the finish. At a self-service car wash you have the option of using your own products that are specific to the care of your car.

Clean Equipment

The rollers and brushes used in automated car washes are not cleaned between cars, which means that there there may be residual dirt from the previous car left on the brushes. At a self-service car wash, you have an opportunity to clean the brush prior to using it on your own vehicle.

Less Damages

The high-powered machines used in automated car washes are not suitable for every model of car, which can lead to possible damage. For example, some headlights are susceptible to condensation. At a self-service car wash, the customer is in control of which areas of their car require attention.


Another benefit of launching a self-service car wash is that little to no staff are required to operate it, which significantly reduces operating costs. This means that the site can also be in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – significantly increasing profit.


Due to the versatility of self-service car washes, there is no limit to the model or type of vehicle that can use a wash bay, which will help you accommodate a greater number of customers.

Tips for Businesses launching a Self-Service Car Wash

Whether you are a business owner looking to open a profitable secondary business, or an already established car wash looking to expand your levels of service, there are some factors you need to be aware of.


The ideal location for any car wash is an area with a high visibility, preferably close to the road. For example, many car wash sites are often close to supermarkets or petrol stations, where services will be regularly noticed by passing customers.


It’s important that you’re aware of how many sites are already in operation in the area. If there’s already a site further down the road from your intended site, you may want to reconsider the location. If positioned too closely to a competitor, you will be forced to offer competitive prices and services, or you will lose customers to another business.


When opening a car wash you need to consider how the available space can be best used.

You’ll need to decide how many wash bays are available and figure out parking spaces for any waiting customers. You also need to consider whether you can accommodate drive-through bays. This optimises efficiency, because customers can enter through one side and exit through the other.

Even if the site you have chosen has limited space, it’s possible to have compact, one and two bay wash systems installed.


Once you have decided on the location and layout of a site, you need to choose great car wash machinery and equipment.

The best machines are those that are suitable for a variety of car models and can offer a range of services from spray to high pressure cleaning, as well as a vacuum service.

The benefit of a self-service car wash site is there is no necessity for a large building structure, which makes it less expensive to build.

Payment System

There are various systems available for self-service car washes. Cashless solutions, such as contactless cards and Apple and Google pay have become popular due to their convenience, but it is always wise to provide an option for coins and cash to make payments option to as many customers as possible.

The Auto Sentry model from PSD Codax is the perfect payment terminal for a self-service car wash It accepts any form of payment and can also be used to activate the wash bay or vacuum settings.

Another option is the WashNow app, which makes it possible to for a customer to pay for a car wash service from anywhere, at any time. It has been formatted for all smartphones and can be downloaded from the app store.


When launching a self-service car wash site, you need to be aware of the factors that can affect the cost of its operation, such as:

  • The location of the site.
  • The size of the facility.
  • Expenses for basics such as water, electricity, as well as the equipment and maintenance.

Damage Costs

While there are all the usual costs to launching a business, you can rest assured that you will not be liable for damage claims.

While customers are in control of cleaning their vehicles, the responsibility for any damages lies with them, taking away one of the main risks of running a car wash service.

Car Wash Technology at PSD Codax

At PSD Codax, we provide state of the art car wash technology, from payment machines to signage. Whatever you need, we have you covered.

For more information on our self-service car wash business models, or any of our other products, get in touch with one of our specialists today.

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