Car Wash-Vac at Apartment Complex

9 Replies

I've heard about a landlord that built a small coin operated self-serve car wash at his apartment complex for tenants and neighbors to use. I heard he did well. Does anyone have experience with this or a story to share.

I'm looking for some real life examples. 

I don't have any real-world examples for you Al, but it sounds like an interesting idea to generate revenue. It's something I haven't seen either so that leads me to believe that perhaps there's a reason for that.

You know how commercial car washes are required to recycle their water?  I wonder if something like this would fall under similar regulation. Not that CA is a highly regulated state or anything (HA!). You might want to check that out before you get too far along because I suspect that a water recycling setup isn't cheap.

I knew this was going to be your thread Al, even before I clicked it.  Sounded a little too "catalytic" and creative for the average investor.  Love it.

I will say in Fresno, Clovis and many other CA cities, as @Brian Burke  pointed out, water regulations have really tightened up.  In fact code enforcement can come around and issue fines for sprinklers on the wrong day or wrong hour.  A hose left on and running would probably be like a magnet.  Other issues to consider might be noise, nuisance to adjacent owners, and providing a commercial service within a residentially zoned neighborhood.  Not trying to knock it, but rather hopefully find ways to mitigate all the issues and make it a success.  

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@Al Williamson  

I have done a little research on coin operated vacuums and coin operated air pumps, but have implemented neither thus far {need a bigger building to make it viable}.  

The vacuums are pricey, the air-pumps are a little more reasonable.

We typically remove hose bibs (or put them behind locked panels) at all our properties so the tenants are not washing their cars and kids playing with hoses.   I have one of those coin operated timers from a campground shower and have thought about adapting it for use as an external hose bib.

You know when I saw this I wondered if one of those car wash coin operated vacuums might be a good add on for a big enough complex. The whole car wash might not be doable involving water it might not be cost effective depending on the area. The out of the box thinking is great though.

@Brian Burke  and Franklin S.  did you know the US EPA says that 60% of car owners wash their vehicles at least once a month?  People even wash salt off their vehicles in the winter. Car washing is a year round business.

Just another example of how landlords can do business with their entire neighborhood and not limit themselves to tenant rents.

OK, climbing off my soap box now.

@Al Williamson  trust me I know about that salt in winter washing living in new england.  When they used to make cars out of metal you had to do it or they would rust out. It still helps even now.    I am just saying water wise you need to figure will you actually make money based on how much the water costs.  It isn't from what I understand a high margin business in some areas.

I'm not sure if Al was trying to challenge me or throw me under the bus ;-)

The parts are all readily available ... replacing the coin mechanism with a card reader and/or keypad would be fairly straight forward ... and a lot easier/cheaper to maintain.