Wash & Dry

How Much Do Car Wash Owners Make? – Update in 2023

Written by Howell Crist / Fact checked by Sam Howard

how much do car wash owners make

Using a car wash service is the optimal solution for time-poor people. Starting your career with a car wash business is a wise choice. Hence, you must be curious about how much do car wash owners make.

A small car wash business can earn over $40,000 per year with the self-service wash. The average car wash income is more than $500,000 for a luxurious car wash business. The demand for car washes has increased, so the revenue will rise as well.

How Much Money Car Wash Owners Make

Over 72% of drivers choose to use car wash services and they wash their cars 1-2 times per month. On average, around 20,000 cars come to a car wash station annually. Besides, the car wash industry will reach $24.74 billion with the explanation at a CAGR of 4.8% by 2028.

To be specific, the money small car washes make is over $40,000 a year for 2 self-service car washes. You can earn more if you invest in an in-bay car wash. You have to pay $15 for a car wash, but it will cost more if you wash a high-end car.

That’s why a large deluxe car wash state can make over $500,000. These figures are not fixed for all businesses depending on the types of car wash and other factors.

Types of Car Wash

Self-service car wash $1.489 per month
In-bay automation car wash $10.833 per month
Exterior conveyor car wash $58.333 per month
Full-service car wash $66.666 per month

1. Self-service car wash


Self-service car wash means you do everything by yourself. The car wash owners provide things for washing: land, water, detergents, wax, vacuum, and more. Therefore, it is an excellent add-on for car wash stations and rest stops.

However, it still costs $7-$15 for a car, depending on the products’ quality. The average self-service car wash revenue is about $1.489 a month. This amount is for a bay. If you have 5 bays, you can earn $3.186,50 a week.

You have to put money in a coin or card-operated machine to wash a car. Self-service car wash doesn’t require labor and needs low-cost investment. But it can increase the car wash profits.

2. In-bay automation car wash


In-bay automation car wash gives you a quick and convenient way to get a spot-free car. It costs less than a self-service car wash. Yet, you can earn more when adding it to your existing car wash station.

How much money does an in-bay car wash make? The popular price for a car wash is $6.50. The income is around $130.000 per year. It is affordable. The in-bay car wash is run automatically when you submit money and park the car correctly.

So how profitable is a car wash? You can earn approximately $5.00 for each car and more than $80.000 in a year.   You can install more in-bay washes to raise the turnover. However, their cost isn’t cheap. You should consider carefully maintaining the owning a car wash salary.

Touchless car wash is one of the automatic car wash types. And, its average cost ranges from $10 to $30. This wash has less chance of scratching your car compared to the soft-brush car wash.

3. Exterior conveyor car wash


You can call it a tunnel automatic car wash. The belt will move the car through the tunnel to remove debris and dirt. It also doesn’t require many employees. The tunnel wash will clean the car in 3 steps with friction.

Investing in the exterior conveyor car wash is pretty attractive. You will pay around $15 to drive into the tunnel car wash. Compared to an in-bay automation car wash, this charge is twice as expensive as it is.

The annual revenue is about $700,000, so the income can be more than $1917 a day. The money you can make with this kind of car wash business is just lower than a full-service car wash.

4. Full-service car wash


The full-service car wash will help you to clean both the inside and outside of your car. Therefore, you have to pay the highest price for it. The cost varies between $15 and $20 per car. Especially, the interior will be tidied up manually.

The average annual revenue is approximately $800,000. In case you require more service, including under wash or engine wash, the charge will be from $150 to $200.

Despite its high price, it allows you to take care of your car details thoroughly. You just need to apply for a full-service car wash up to twice a year.

Factors That Impact Profit

1. Location


If your car wash station is noticeable with directions and signs, you can earn more money. 75 percent of people are looking for a station while driving. You should build a car wash business on the main roads with high traffic.

2. Land Size

The types of car wash will decide the land size you need. The

  • Four bays of self-service car washes: 12,000 square feet
  • In-bay automation car washes: 7,000 square feet
  • Exterior conveyor car washes: 43,560 square feet
  • Full-service car washes: 52,000 square feet.

If you provide a full-service car wash, you should build a waiting place for your customers.

You have to pay at least $3 per square foot. However, depending on the locations, this cost will be varied.

3. Land Acquisition

You can buy land and build your station from scratch. If you don’t have time to do it, purchasing an available construction or renting it is a good choice.

  • Land acquisition: $100,000 – $200,000
  • The base and scenery around your station: $200,000 – $400,000
  • Building structure with plumbing and electrical system: $350,000 – $500,000

4. Construction

The expenses of car wash construction will depend on the kinds of car wash and the number of bays. Here are the estimated costs for 2, 4, and 6 bays.

2 Bays 4 Bays 6 Bays
Self-service $180,000 $290,000 $360,000
Automatic $220,000 $310,000 $400,000
Touchess $270,000 $360,000 $450,000
Full Service $180,000 $290,000 $340,000

5. Equipment Cost  

Your car wash station cannot run without equipment. The location can affect its price. Hence, you should research and compare multiple distributors to get an incentive price. The cost of a self-service device per bay is different from an automatic one.

  • Self-service: $8000 – $10,000
  • Automatic: $31,000 – $49,000

To ensure your car wash business runs smoothly, you need to build good wastewater. The system cost approximately $35,000. You need only 1 system for all bays.

6. Operational Expenses


The operational expenses are divided into 2 categories: variable and fixed costs. These are ongoing fees per car. You need to calculate them in a monthly payable account.

1. Variable cost

Relying on how many cars you wash per month, these costs will vary accordingly.

  • Water: $0.16
  • Electricity: $0.50
  • Chemicals: $0.64
  • Natural gas: $0.12
  • Maintenance and repairs: $0.47

2. Fixed cost

No matter if you run the car wash station or not, you have to pay fixed costs. Here are 2 expenses in the fixed cost list. The cost and tariff of rent or mortgage vary on the location.

  • Labor: $1.24
  • Administrative fee: $1.00

7. Population And Competition

If your car wash station is located in a high-salary and dense population, it will attract more customers. However, you also consider a place with less competition.

In case there are many car wash businesses there, customers can change car wash stations to find better services at a more reasonable price. Your profit will be affected as well.

8. Advertisement


You should make your car wash business famous with marketing strategies. They play an important role in attracting new customers and retaining loyal ones. You can choose a few ways to promote your station: social platforms, reviews, ads, or a campaign.

On average, the cost for marketing campaigns ranges from $2000 to $5000. If you choose signage, you even pay $15,000-$25,000 to get attention.

9. Seasons And Disaster

The demand for car washes will increase in winter. People need to remove salt from their vehicles. The need can be maintained in the spring and summer due to pollen in the air. However, your car wash business will be less busy in the fall.

For self-service bays, the reduction will occur in the winter. The cold weather makes people lazy to wash their cars by themselves. Plus, they don’t need to wash their cars frequently in the rainy season. The rain will wipe out dust and stains.

In a week, the busiest days are Friday and Saturday. They need a spotless car to go out. The contrary scenery will happen on Sunday and Monday when people go to work and don’t have time for car washing.

You also need to pay attention to natural disasters. Storms, floods, hurricane season, and more will prevent people from coming to your car wash business.


You surely have a clear view of how much do car wash owners make. In the first stage, you will need to invest a lot in the business, but the income is quite high.

Depending on the car wash kinds you serve, you can earn from $40,000 to $800,000 per year. You should open the car wash station in the high-demand season to make more money.

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Our chief editor is Sam Howard. The vast market of car care necessitates extensive research. He entered the market, experienced the service, and reported customer feedback in order to provide the best advice and content to car owners. We have faith in him to turn our website into a reliable resource for all car owners.

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