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  1. #1
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    Default Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    I know Bruce said he had a few laundromats a while back, no one mentioned car wash.

    Are these a good business to start up or buy?


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  2. #2
    Moderator aspeck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Family had a car wash (brother still has it). Early Spring, winter (when not too cold) and late fall are good for business. Summer, not so much. Lot of checking and rechecking. Not something you can make a living off of, but a good supplemental business.
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  3. #3
    Master Chief Petty Officer r.j.dawg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    If by car wash you mean the coin operated ones, then like aspeck said I doubt you could make a living of of it. Now the car wash I go to is a full service one where you just stay in your car and the track pulls your car through. They also have gas, a detailing service, small dent removal, upholstery and carpet cleaning. The works. But I imagine it would be big $$$$$$ to buy.
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  4. #4
    Master Chief Petty Officer Alwhite00's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Self-Serve car washes are all cash money - Nuff said.

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    When I was up north last fall we went to a country kitchen style restaurant, the basics, hardy style foods.
    In the restaurant they had a laundromat, so kind of a captive clientele for those doing their clothes, as well there was a big truck/car wash.
    I thought that this triple combo was a great idea and I am exploring the options.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Anybody see Breaking Bad?
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  7. #7
    Supreme Mariner bruceb58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    I would NEVER do it again with a laundromat!!!!!

    My main issue was having to lease my building and maintenance. Dealing with different landlords every few years was not fun.

    I do know a lot about fixing washing machines, dryers and coin changers now though!
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    one big problem with a car wash is the way some places/area's bill for electric. most car washes also do detailing and use alot of kwh during the weekend then hardly use any kwh during the week. if you pay on demand/use then that doesnt matter much but if you pay on peak load then thats a huge electric bill for the month. if you live in a area where people can and will pay to have the car cleaned then it might be worth looking into it. most buisnesses are location location location. a laundromat in a rich area wont make money and a car wash in a poor area wont make money.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    The self serve car wash of my choice probably does well until it rains.

    I know this doesn't make sense as it rarely rains here. As soon as it does every young guy with a 4 wheel drive thinks they are off road racers and tear it up in the dry lake bed or remote area of town. So much mud is left under the sign that reads "Excessive Mud Removal Not Allowed" that you can't use the bays until the 9-Noon attendent cleans them.
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  10. #10
    Supreme Mariner bruceb58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Not sure if your plan is to buy an existing business or start a new one. If buying existing, you are going to have to do research to see what they go for. Typical price is a multiple of the gross income. For a coin laundry, its pretty easy to estimate because you can look at water bills and do a calc on the amount of water each wash takes. I have no idea how you would figure gross on a car wash. Like the coin laundry business, there is probably an association you can ask questions of.

    Don't even think its a business that you can just go and collect money from. There will be a bunch of maintenance. I would consider calling some that are not for sale and would not be your competitor to see what they think of the business and what the drawbacks would be.
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  11. #11
    Moderator aspeck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    I will add that if you are putting in a car wash, you better be mechanically inclined because there is a lot of electrical, plumbing, and pump issues to deal with. At least once a week there is some issue ... Whether you are changing out a coin changer, fixing a leak, or rebuilding a pump. Then there are the coin jams, etc. wet, cold, coins don't like to travel through a changer very well.

    water freezes when it gets cold (no duh!) which creates other issues. Not trying to talk you out of a car wash, they can be profitable, but think of your location, your seasons, and how much would you be able to attend to it. A self serve car wash needs checked several times a day. Then you get to deal with the vandalism, etc.

    they are a cash business and can produce a nice supplement to your income, however.
    Rules of Repair:
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    2. You only need 2 tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move, and it should, use WD-40. If it moves, and it shouldn't, use Duct Tape!
    3. If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    As for the Laundromat/restaurant, this will take some time to learn about, pro and cons. (location, location, location)

    And the car/truck wash as well, we do have a couple of real requirements here that are not met I believe. Although we have a couple of car washes here there are none that are really big truck with trailer friendly, in the larger centers they have bays were the driver can get under the rig/trailer to clean the frame ETC.
    And all you guys in the northern areas know what its like with the salt build up on your vehicles.

    We have 1 major HWY west-east(trans Canada) and a secondary north to south (and there is no truck stop of any kind)
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    In my town, they are strange in that they don't allow things like auto parts stores and there are about 3 total car washes none of which are self serv. I don't know how exactly they discourage these things but in a shopping meca like few other certain things inexplicably don't exist. In the winter here in MN, the car washes are either closed because it is too cold or closed because it finally got warm one day and it broke and is closed. Keeping your car clean and managing the salt is a huge time committment. During the season when you need the car wash they are closed far more than they are open. That would at least make me think about the opportunity cost.
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  14. #14
    Rear Admiral oldjeep's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Quote Originally Posted by jkust View Post
    Keeping your car clean and managing the salt is a huge time committment.
    That is why it works best for me to just get a good surface coating of dirt before winter and then wash the truck in April
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldjeep View Post
    That is why it works best for me to just get a good surface coating of dirt before winter and then wash the truck in April
    Now that's funny right there!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldjeep View Post
    That is why it works best for me to just get a good surface coating of dirt before winter and then wash the truck in April
    Yeah but who likes a rusty bottom.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    I looked into building one when I lived in Northern Michigan as the nearest one was over 25 miles away. But the lack of City water and sewer scared me off, Would`ve been wells and septic and a field big enough for all that water would have been way out of line.
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Quote Originally Posted by jkust View Post
    Yeah but who likes a rusty bottom.
    Just get some Rusteez!

  19. #19
    Moderator WIMUSKY's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlkY2k View Post
    I looked into building one when I lived in Northern Michigan as the nearest one was over 25 miles away. But the lack of City water and sewer scared me off, Would`ve been wells and septic and a field big enough for all that water would have been way out of line.
    It's been looked into in my neck of the woods too. Same situation. Except the water would have to go in holding tanks and would have to be pumped constantly. Getting permits, pumping and the DNR involved just seemed not to be worth the effort or very cost effective....
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  20. #20
    Supreme Mariner bruceb58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Quote Originally Posted by WIMUSKY View Post
    It's been looked into in my neck of the woods too. Same situation. Except the water would have to go in holding tanks and would have to be pumped constantly. Getting permits, pumping and the DNR involved just seemed not to be worth the effort or very cost effective....
    Because these car washes are used to clean engines and oily parts of vehicles, is there an issue with this type of waste water collection(costs, EPA, etc)?
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Quote Originally Posted by WIMUSKY View Post
    It's been looked into in my neck of the woods too. Same situation. Except the water would have to go in holding tanks and would have to be pumped constantly. Getting permits, pumping and the DNR involved just seemed not to be worth the effort or very cost effective....
    I've heard there are baffled scrapers you need to separate the water and oils???

    Clean outs, screens and possibly recycle water instead of sewer or septic field??
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Bad in my area right now. There's a water shortage, and they have been closed down for over 2 months.
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    I have not seen a new quarter car wash built in years and years. Nuff said.

    A self service laundromat is a business that must be watched closely a few times per day. Unless I owned a large mobile home park, the hard work may not offset the profits. But in a trailer park, it's well worth the time and investment.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    I worked with a lady that had a car wash with her husband, after numorous lawsuits they sold out. She told me was worth it but they found out that it was a magnet for lawsuits, claiming damage to car from equipment, slip-falls, and other injuries said it took time but was worth it when CVS bought them out.

  25. #25
    Moderator aspeck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a car wash or laundromat a good or bad investment?

    Most of the newer ones around here recycle their water. Little more expensive on the front end, but saves in regulations and then on water bill after complete.
    Rules of Repair:
    1. If it ain't broke, give me a hammer, it will be!
    2. You only need 2 tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move, and it should, use WD-40. If it moves, and it shouldn't, use Duct Tape!
    3. If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.


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