The mini express car wash system from NS Wash takes up less space and produces less water than a hand wash, according to the company.
While hand washing is the norm for many rental operators, some prefer to speed up the process by washing vehicles with an automatic car wash.
The automatic car wash of choice is the drive through, says Frank Lash, an independent car wash consultant to the auto rental industry. A drive-through unit consists of a curtain or top wheel to clean horizontal surfaces and two side brushes to clean the front, rear and vertical surfaces.
Other types of automatic car washes include a rollover or in-bay (the car is stationary while the wash equipment moves over the car) and a conveyorized tunnel (the conveyor pulls a car through the wash equipment), according to Lash.
No matter the type of car wash, there are several factors to keep in mind, including water usage and water recovery. What are other factors to consider when setting up an automatic car wash or hand-washing area?
When setting up a car wash, car rental facilities need some type of water containment system. The federal Clean Water Act sets water quality standards for contaminants in surface waters. It is illegal to release any type of pollutant into navigable waters, including soap and dirty water from car washes.
Car rental operators need to consider a few factors to properly dispose of car wash water:
- Know the location of your sanitary sewer line, because this is where your runoff will flow. Each city charges a certain tap fee to tie into the sanitary sewer, says Lash.
- Install a filter to collect water and waste. For example, Choice Auto Rental, serving Minneapolis/St. Paul, installed a sand trap and hazardous waste filter in its wash areas, says McKenzie Spalding, director of operations. To adhere to California regulations, Sam Zaman of Black and White Car Rental in Beverly Hills must have a clarifier in his car wash to trap the water and remove any solids.
- Set up a containment mat to collect the water and reuse it. A system from GEOMAT captures waste-water runoff, filters it and then either pumps it back into the system for reuse or sends it to the city’s sanitary sewer line.