car wash startup idea

So you have made the decision to open up a car wash business for yourself. Is it really that easy to open a car wash? What is the checklist you need when you get into this type of business? Today we will cover all the aspects you will need to think about for starting your car wash business.

The Basics You Should Consider

When you ask most people what they think of a car wash they might give you an idea of a place where you park your car, and it is pulled through on a motorized track. Well that’s only one style of car wash, and there are other car washes you should consider for your business including:

  • Automatic In-bay: With this type of car wash there is an automatic machine that rolls over the top of a parked car that rests in a bay.
  • Full-Service: This is a combination of a conveyor that your car is pulled through and washed and then an inside detailing portion with at the end that is added in.
  • Self-Service: This is a coin operated brush and hose operated service. A car drives into a bay and then the driver puts in a series of coins to a machine that dispenses soap, wax, and different types of rinses. Self-Service can include coin-operated vacuum cleaners as well.

If you have the type of car wash style in mind, you should consider the type of equipment you are going to need. This may be as simple as buckets, hoses, sponges, and vacuum cleaners for a serviced car wash to the conveyors and the car washing machines themselves.

Budgeting and Planning

When opening a car wash, you will have to consider costs. A self-service or hand car wash it may cost less than a fully automatic car wash but you will have to ask yourself other questions such as:

  • Do I have enough capital to start my car wash business?
  • Will I have to hire employees for my car wash?
  • Should I set aside money in case of repairs for my car wash machines?
  • Have I considered every safety option to protect my car wash to prevent a lawsuit?

Location, Location, Location

Location is vital to your business success. You just don’t want to put your car wash anywhere as you will want to do some market research on the surrounding area while exploring demographics in your area to target your customers. Having your car wash in a growing population that is near populated residences and businesses will help your car wash achieve the success you are looking for.

You also will have to look into the space where your car wash will be located. You should be ready to ask yourself a couple of questions such as:

  • Are you going to buy the property or will you rent it?
  • Will you build a new car wash or buy a pre-existing car wash?
  • Are there any city ordinances or license you will need for your car wash?
  • Are there any zoning regulations?

Business Structure

Since you are going into business yourself you need to look at what type of business structure you will set up for your car wash. Common business structures include:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC provides limited liability to its owners in its jurisdiction and comes with pass-through taxation benefits. It can be relatively easy to set up out of most of the business structures.
  • Corporation (C Corp): A corporation is a company of people authorized to act as a legal single entity. Corporations have shareholders whose liability is limited to their investment. Corporations have a board of directors who manage the corporation. Corporations have many tax advantages.
  • Sole Proprietorship: This type of business is run by one natural person which has no distinction between the owner and the business. The owner controls all elements of the company but is also legally responsible for all finances, debts, loans, and even possible lawsuits. This type of business is relatively easy to set up.
  • Partnership: This act similar to a sole proprietorship except there are two owners. It comes with all the same control and financial and legal responsibilities. Partnerships are rather easy to set up but make sure that agreements are put into writing, and possible security agreements are made between partners.

To learn more about business structures contact your local lawyer or a business consultant.


A car wash may be a profitable business but there are a lot of aspects that you will have to take into consideration including costs, business structure, location and the style of car wash you want to set up. Careful planning and review will ensure that your car wash will be successful, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.