This post was prepared by Motor City Wash Works for Wolford Communications.

As an investor, once it comes to choosing a location for a new car wash, you need to look for the ideal site to set up shop. It is crucial that you commit to finding the best property because a car wash is a location-driven service business.
Below are ten vital components for choosing a car wash site.

1. Demographics

The first item on your priority checklist should be to look at the current demographics of a one-mile, three-mile, and five-mile radius of the property you’re interested in. You will want a steady flow of traffic to ensure a customer base that is big enough to support your business.

Other demographic factors such as median income, number of vehicles in the area, average household income, and a breakdown of the population are also critical.

2. Property Size

The perfect size for a tunnel car wash is roughly one acre. A minimum of 225 feet in one direction to allow for at least a 125-foot conveyor will also be necessary. The ideal situation would be to have the largest side of the property along the road to reach maximum visibility.

3. Nearby Competitors

Competing car washes within a three-mile area is a deterrent that you should avoid. Check out all the nearby local washes that aren’t convenience stores, service stations, or self-service washes and analyze them as competitors.

4. Zoning

What is the current zoning for the area you’re interested in? Is it mainly commercial, or will rezoning be necessary? It is hard to get a property rezoned from residential to commercial, so it is best to locate a property zoned for business usage.

5. Visibility

An out of sight property is an out of mind property. In a perfect world, you should build your car wash in front of other buildings, and parallel to the main road.

6. Available Space

If you plan to construct an express exterior model, allow for vacuum pads and space, queuing land and turning radiuses. A flex-service wash will also require room for the finishing and post-vacuum areas.

7. Speed of Traffic

If the nearby speed limit is at least 50 miles an hour or higher, drivers are typically going too fast to see the signage or facility. Aim for a location where traffic is less than 45 miles per hour.

8. Traffic Counts

As crucial as traffic counts are, they’re not nearly as essential as demographics, which is why it was listed first. Car washes with very high traffic counts can end up not performing well if the demographics aren’t right.

9. Nearby Retail

Placing your car wash by other retail businesses creates an additional draw. If possible, harness the destination draw from big-box retail stores and build your car wash on one of their out-lots.

10. Property Price

Consider the price of the property, whether for lease or purchase, as part of your monthly operational expense or total investment.
Site selection is no time to be cheap, so never penny-pinch when it comes to property selection. If the location is just right and projections predict that it may generate high volume, it is worth the heftier price tag. There is no alternative to acquiring the perfect car wash site.


These are just a few of the several considerations that come into play when choosing your site. Other factors include everything from local sign ordinances to environmental concerns, trade barriers and more. Download the full guide to educate yourself on all you need to know when it comes to choosing the best site for your car wash.

Need car wash marketing support? Contact the industry leader Wolford Communications today.