Keeping your wash up and running round the clock is a massive undertaking! It requires patience, learning how to tackle problems on your own, learning new skills, having the right tools and equipment. It’s no easy feat.
The worst is when your wash, or one of your bays, goes down and you don’t have the right equipment on hand. A bay that isn’t working is a bay that isn’t making money! That’s why it’s important to keep a supply of replacement parts on hand at all times. The last thing you want is a bay to go down on a Friday with a great weekend ahead, and you find out you can’t get the part in until Monday. So what are the most important replacement parts to keep on hand for your automatic or self-service wash?
Customer-Facing Replacement Parts
One way to look at it is to separate into what the customer sees, and what they don’t. Some of the customer-facing parts may need to be replaced not just because of how they work, but also because of how they look. You may need to keep more than a few of these on hand. Customer experience matters, and while these might still function, you may still want to replace them to keep your clients happy!
Foam Brush Assemblies
If you can’t soap it up, you can’t wash it! Brush heads make a big difference in the performance of your self serve wash. Brushes also take the most abuse of any tool. They get dropped, banged around, tangled up, left on the ground. They pick up rocks, lose bristles, get clogged up. So make sure you’ve got spare assemblies – we recommend our Hog Daddy line of hog’s hair foam brushes with aluminum heads – on hand so you can change them out with ease, instead of waiting days for replacements!
Replacement Spray Guns and Assemblies
Just like with the brush heads, these customer-facing product applicators need to be kept in great shape. Otherwise, customer experience suffers. While they don’t get beat up on like brushes do, the are susceptible to clogging and leaking. And sometimes, yes, they do get broken when dropped, run over, or otherwise misused. Some even just plain wear out. But as a relatively inexpensive spare part to keep around – our high pressure weep gun hose bay assembly kit is well under $100, with the gun alone being a fraction of that – the ability to change it out and go on with the work without lost time or income is worth it.
Spray Tips and Nozzles
Both self-service and automatic/IBA set-ups require a bevy of spray tips and nozzles. You use these for so many processes – applying soaps and chemicals, and for rinsing off. These tips can break, fall off, get clogged, or otherwise malfunction. In turn, this reduces the capabilities of your wash. Keep a handful on hand so they can be swapped out the minute you note an issue, and you won’t lose customers or income! The last thing you want is a couple of tips that only costs $3-$5 dollars each causing the loss of washes or customers.
In-Bay Box Timers and Switches
If the customer can’t start the wash, or it doesn’t work as it should, you’ve got a bay down. Your box switches get plenty of use, and it’s only a matter of time before a knob cracks or breaks off, the switch gets loose, or it stops functioning as it should. Being able to quickly repair the box and get it back online is important. With no box, your bay is inoperable, possibly for days! That’s lost income that compounds day over day.
Replacement Vacuum Nozzles and Cuffs
These certainly take their fair share of abuse. Vacuum nozzles and hoses get dropped, run over, and exposed to the elements. A scarred or chipped nozzle can pull and drag threads in a vehicle and cause damage, leading to complaints and potential lost customers. Bad cuffs and nozzles can reduce the effectiveness of the vacuum. Replacement nozzles like these ones from Mr. Nozzle cost less than most people will spend in a single vacuum visit – there’s no reason not to have two or three on hand to swap out the minute there’s a problem.
It may sound like a no-brainer but think about all the different types of bulbs you use around your wash. Not all of them are easy to find, especially on a moment’s notice. You may have specialty bulbs in your tunnel lighting, LEDs, and lot lights. You may use specific-colored bulbs in some spots. These aren’t bulb you can pop out and grab at Lowe’s. So make sure you have enough on hand to cover if some should go out – lighting is integral to customer safety and the security of your business, not to mention the experience!
Pump Room Replacement Parts
Behind the scenes, there’s plenty going on as well. Your customers won’t see your pumps, your hydraulic systems, your fluid transfer systems, but they sure will feel the effects if they go wrong.
Yes, they’re expensive, and yes, they take up space. But having a spare pump on hand allows you to quickly get a bay back online. By pulling the pump and putting in the replacement, you keep everything running with little interruption. This also allows you to take the time to evaluate and repair the down pump properly, instead of rushing repairs. While the cost may seem prohibitive to some, think about the loss of income and customer impact if a pump goes down midway through a busy weekend.
Seals and O-Rings
The most common parts that go bad in pumps are also some of the least expensive. Seal kits allow you to maintain your pumps easily and effectively or repair them on the fly. Spare O-rings for pumps, guns, and other equipment cost mere pennies. Don’t take the chances – keep these inexpensive components on hand!
Repair and Rebuild Kits
Particularly if you are using identical pumps across the board, having rebuild, repair, and repacking kits on hand is a great idea. This won’t necessarily get your bay or automatic up and running immediately but having them on hand will let you get to work right away, instead of waiting a few days for the kits to arrive. These are definitely not repair components you can find locally.
You don’t want to be stuck scrambling to make repairs to your hoses. A blown hose can ruin your day, particularly if you don’t have spare fittings on hand. While we don’t recommend making your own hose assemblies, especially when we can do it for you, faster and easier, we do recommend being knowledgeable and equipped to repair them if an emergency happens. You can fix a hose by cutting out the blown section and attaching fittings on the new ends, then connecting them with swivels or couplings – but only if you have all the parts on hand! Don’t be left with your fluid system out of order!
Plenty of typical nuts and bolts you can go out and grab from your local hardware or 24-hour big box store. But what about specialty screws for foam brushes, pumps, manifold blocks, and guns? Weird vending parts? Specialty changer panels? There’s a whole variety of small hardware pieces out there – make sure that a simple 50-cent bolt doesn’t cripple your changers or bring down a bay box.
These are all in addition to your daily consumables – the tokens, the soaps and chemicals, the vending and retail products. Kleen-Rite carries everything you need to keep your car wash up and running, even when the going gets tough! So make sure you’re keeping a supply of these ten replacement parts on hand, and keep your customers safe and happy while keeping your wash profitable!