How much does it cost to start a car wash or car wash business?

Once you have the idea of ​​the type of car wash you want to start, you will wonder about the Car wash or car wash business and its cost.

While the start-up costs can be the same for the different types, there are many factors that will affect the volume of money you will need to start your business and it will even depend on where you plan to open it.

The physical space to open a Car wash or car wash business

If you do not plan to buy a Car wash or car wash business existing, you should consider the purchase of land, construction and equipment, whose expenses vary according to the location of the business and other factors that also affect, since they depend on the current rates in your area and then you can estimate with greater precision your capital needs.

car wash

Construction costs

The cost of construction varies widely from one location to another, but will include the electrical installation, the plumbing work the business will need, the utility bills including sewer and water.

In the case of a self-service car wash, the cost averages around $ 17,000 if you only build one area or bay.

But when it comes to an automated business, the construction expense is estimated at a rate of approximately $ 42,000 for each bay or area you want to build.

In fact, an average of 80 thousand dollars is estimated for the construction and equipment of each area of ​​the business, because no matter where you will establish the business, some of the construction costs are likely to include …

Acquisition of the land

Surely, the land that you acquire will not have a pre-existing structure, since otherwise the expenses will increase because you will have to eliminate the waste of the previous construction.

For this reason, you should look for suitable lots of land close to other businesses where there is activity and neighborhoods with a dense population to attract more customers.

The size

The size of the physical business should be large enough so that it can support the type of car washing you want to do and so that the vehicles can line up.

The location of the car wash business

Considering that in the United States, the area of ​​a lot is measured in square feet, estimate that you need at least 1000 square feet to establish a typical car wash business and you can think of a lot larger than 2500 square feet if You want to anticipate the growth of your business and prepare it with a construction that will accommodate the future of car washing.


But don’t worry, small business owners will have no problem helping you as a new entrepreneur so you can be successful, as they have been helped too when they started their business.

Therefore with this idea in mind, visit other car wash businesses to seek advice and learn from those experiences that they will comment on and apply them in your own business.

Also learn all you can about the car wash industry from reading printed materials and continue to educate yourself over time, as as a business owner you must stay abreast of the latest industry trends.

You can also join the International Car Wash Association where you can attend seminars and workshops that will help you succeed.

In turn, after you build the physical business, think that you must have enough space to be able to expand it when the business begins to grow.

Types of car wash business

Actually, first of all, you should think about the type of car wash business you want to open, because in the United States there are four types, which include:

Full service car wash

Offering a full wash service means that you will wash and clean the exterior of the car as well as the interior and vacuuming thoroughly.

Exterior service car wash

If you offer exterior wash service, the driver of the vehicle will remain inside his car, while the car is driven along an automated conveyor while the exterior of the vehicle is cleaned.

Self service

By offering this type of service, the owner of the vehicle will use a wand to wash the exterior of the car and you can make available to the owners a coin machine that they can use to vacuum the interior of the vehicle.

Automatic car wash in bay or area

The automatic bay or area wash is the type of car wash that you can commonly see at a gas station, as it is the type of wash that requires little space and labor.

The customer will pay for the type of washing they want. The vehicle is hauled to the wash location from a starting point and you will wait in your car until the exterior of your car is cleaned.

In reality, the type of car wash you choose will determine how much money you will need to start the business, which will include how much it will cost to start and how much you will charge per wash.

Well, your operation will involve the decision to offer hand washing and then the start-up costs will be lower than an automated car wash would be, but the labor costs will be higher.

If you plan to open an automated car wash, you will need to wash more cars per hour without having many people on the payroll, but generally you will need to replace the equipment every ten years or more often to maintain it properly.

The price of car washes

In general, consumers choose to spend more money for a complete car wash service when it is done by hand, as they are people who seek this service because they do not wash cars as often as people who use the automated type of car wash. .

Keep in mind that the average for a full service car wash is $ 15.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the revenue per bay in a self-service averages $ 1,500. On average, an automatic car wash in the bay generates $ 139 a year, which yields a net annual profit of more than $ 86,000.

Materials to put a car wash

As materials or equipment to put a car wash you will need:

  1. A vacuum cleaner with a coupler.
  2. A power sprayer of at least half a horsepower.
  3. A 340 liter pressure tank.
  4. Drums to store water.
  5. A compact, electric 1600V 5.5L / min pressure washer.
  6. Buckets and hose.
  7. At least 60 liters of car detergent
  8. 15 liters of car wax with a glossy finish.
  9. Scratch remover.
  10. 450ml. polish and shine for car.

The documentation to open a car wash or car wash business

Before buying land to open your Car wash or car wash businessYou must make sure that you will have the permission to locate it in that area that you chose, because as it is a new business that you have just built, you will need a zoning permit.

For this reason you should advise yourself on the codes of local use and sanitary sewers.

Business license

You will also need to pay for and apply for a business license, business insurance, and property taxes.


In turn, you may have to register the name of the business with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and you will make sure that nobody can use it.