The 7 Benefits of Touchless Car Washes

By OPW | Oct 11, 2019
When you think about it, the term “touchless,” when used to describe a car wash, is a bit of a misnomer. After all, if the vehicle is not “touched” during the wash process, how can it be adequately cleaned? In reality, what we call touchless washes were developed as a counterpoint to traditional friction washes, which use foam cloths (often called “brushes”) to physically contact the vehicle in order to apply and remove cleaning detergents and waxes, along with the accumulated dirt and grime. While friction washes offer a generally effective cleaning method, physical contact between wash components and the vehicle can lead to vehicle damage.
“Touchless” still creates contact with the vehicle, but without brushes. It is a lot easier to say and remember than actually describing a wash process thusly: “finely targeted high-pressure nozzles and low-pressure detergent and wax application to clean the vehicle.”
There can be no confusion, however, in the fact that touchless in-bay automatic car washes have risen over the years to become the preferred in-bay automatic wash style for wash operators and the drivers who frequent their sites. In fact, recent studies conducted by the International Carwash Association indicate that as many as 80% of all in-bay automatic washes sold in the United States are of the touchless variety.

The Magnificent 7 Touchless Benefits

So, what has allowed touchless washes to earn their exalted level of respect and a strong position in the vehicle-wash industry? The answer can be found in the seven major benefits they offer their users.

Vehicle Protection

As mentioned, due to their method of operation, there is very little worry that a vehicle will become damaged in a touchless wash since nothing contacts the vehicle except detergent and wax solutions and high-pressure water. This not only protects the vehicle’s mirrors and antenna, but also its delicate clear-coat finish, which can be harmed by some friction washes’ old-school cloths or brushes.

Fewer Mechanical Components

By their design, touchless vehicle-wash systems have fewer mechanical components than their friction-wash counterparts. This design creates a pair of sub-benefits for the operator: 1) less equipment means a less cluttered wash bay that is more inviting to drivers, and 2) the number of parts that can break or wear out is reduced, which results in lower maintenance and replacement costs, along with less revenue-robbing wash downtime.

24/7/365 Operation

When used in combination with an entry system that accepts cash, credit cards, tokens or numerical entry codes, the wash is available for use 24 hours a day without need of a wash attendant. This holds especially true in colder climates. Touchless washes typically can stay open in colder/icier temperatures.

Minimal Labor

Speaking of wash attendants, since touchless wash systems operate automatically with a smaller number of moving parts and complexity, they do not require much human interaction or monitoring. 

Increased Revenue Opportunities

Advances in touchless-wash technology now give operators more opportunities to enhance their revenue streams through new service offerings, or the customization of services to the specific needs of the customer. These services can include bug prep, dedicated sealant applicators, hi-gloss applications, enhanced arch control for better detergent coverage and more efficient drying processes. These revenue-generating features can be enhanced by light shows that will attract customers near and far.

Lower Cost of Ownership

These cutting-edge touchless wash systems require less water, electricity and wash detergents/waxes to adequately clean the vehicle, savings that are readily apparent in the bottom line. Additionally, simplified operation and streamlined troubleshooting and parts replacement lower ongoing maintenance costs.

Optimized Return on Investment

A next-generation touchless-wash system will result in wash-volume increases, improved revenue per wash and reduced costs per vehicle. This combination of benefits delivers a quicker return on investment (ROI) while giving wash operators the peace of mind that comes from knowing that a faster, simpler and more efficient wash will likely result in profit increases in the years ahead.

One of the leading touchless systems is the PDQ LaserWash 360 Plus. This touchless in-bay automatic system helps to enhance revenues and improve on total cost of ownership.

If you have any questions about integrating a touchless system into your car wash, please go to, or to speak directly to a sales representative, call (800) 227-3373.


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