How to Start a Car Wash Business in the USA: Business Plan, License, Cost, and Profit

Have you ever thought about starting your own car wash business? If so, you’re not alone. In the United States, there are over 23,000 car washes in operation. A car wash business is a great method to be your boss and make a good living. A lot of planning, research, and work goes into starting and running a successful car wash business.

How to Start a Car Wash Business in the USA
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This blog post will explore how to start a car wash business in the USA. We will cover everything from initial planning and research to finding the right location and equipment for your business. So, if you’re considering starting a car wash business, read on for some helpful tips and information.

How to start a car wash business in the USA

Business plan

It is a document that details a business’s operational and financial objectives. It is used to secure financing from investors and lenders and provides a roadmap for the business’s growth and development. When starting a car wash business in the USA, creating a comprehensive business plan is important. This plan should include an executive summary, market analysis, company overview, financial projections, and marketing strategy.

This business plan provides an overview of the car wash business, including its purpose, target market, competitive landscape, and growth potential. The market analysis should assess the size and growth of the car wash industry in the USA, as well as identify any trends or shifts that could impact the business.

Finally, the company overview should describe the car wash’s ownership structure, management team, location(s), and facilities. The financial projections should outline the expected costs of starting and operating the car wash business and forecasted revenues and profits. The marketing strategy should detail how the car wash will generate customers through advertising, promotions, pricing strategies, etc.

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Car Wash Station
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Car wash industry in the USA

The car wash industry in the USA is a $4 billion industry that employs over 100,000 people. The average car wash costs $6, the most expensive being $16. There are two types of car washes: self-service and full-service. Full-service car washes mainly offer customers a complete package that is washing, drying, and waxing the exterior of their vehicle. This type of car wash typically costs between $10 and $20.

On the other hand, self-service car washes only allow customers to wash their vehicles. This type of car wash typically costs between $3 and $7. The two largest companies in the car wash industry in the USA are Jiffy Lube and Valvoline. Jiffy Lube operates over 2,000 locations across the country, while Valvoline has over 1,000 locations. In addition, both companies offer services beyond car washing, such as oil changes and tire rotations.


  1. Assuming you would like tips to start a car wash business in the United States, below are some helpful things to keep in mind!
  2. Determine the appropriate location for your car wash business. This is important because you want to be situated in an area with high traffic and visibility.
  3. Make sure you have the necessary permits and licenses before beginning construction or operation of your car wash business.
  4. Choose a car wash system best suited for your climate and water quality in your area.
  5. Construct or purchase a building that meets all local codes and regulations for car washes.
  6. Install energy-efficient equipment to help reduce operating costs.
  7. Promote your car wash business through marketing and advertising efforts

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Car Washing Unit
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Start-up costs

The average car wash start-up costs between $110,000 to $160,000. This includes the costs of real estate, equipment, signage, permits, and other miscellaneous costs. You may take a small business loan to finance your car wash business start-up. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great resource for small business financing. They offer a variety of loan programs for small businesses, including car washes.

Equipment and Supplies

If you’re planning to start a car wash business in the United States, you’ll need to acquire some essential equipment and supplies. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to get started:

  • A large outdoor space for your car wash facility
  • Car wash equipment, including high-pressure washers, brushes, and hoses
  • Water treatment equipment, if you plan to recycle water
  • Cleaning supplies, such as soap, shampoo, and wax
  • Towels and rags for drying cars
  • An air compressor to blow dry cars (optional)
  • Protective gear for yourself and your employees, such as gloves, goggles, and aprons


A car wash business in the USA can be a great method to earn a living. However, there are many things to consider when starting such a business, including the location, type of facility, equipment, and, most importantly, the employees. Regarding employees, there are some points to keep in mind.

First and foremost, all employees must be over the age of 18. Secondly, it is important to have a mix of full-time and part-time employees to help keep costs down. Finally, it is crucial to carefully screen all potential employees and perform background checks before hiring anyone.


Assuming you would like tips to start a car wash business in the USA:

Do your research

To start a car wash business, it is important to research and understand the industry. This includes understanding the types of car washes, equipment, and products you need, the required permits, and the market you will be entering. It is also important to have a solid business plan before moving forward.

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Foam Car Washing
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Choose the right location

The right location is important in starting a successful car wash business. The ideal location would have high traffic, be easily accessible, and have plenty of parking. It is also important to consider the competition in the area when choosing a location.

Invest in quality equipment

Investing in quality equipment is also important for a successful car wash business. This includes everything from the actual washing machines to drying systems and vacuum cleaners. High-quality equipment will not only make washing cars faster and easier, but it will also result in happier customers who are more likely to return.

Promote your business

Once you have everything up and running, it is important to promote your business so that people are aware of it and know where to find you. There are many ways to promote a car wash business, including advertising, social media marketing, and word-of-mouth marketing.


There are some options for financing a car wash business in the USA. The first is to use personal savings. This business is the best option if you have personal savings, as it will not accrue any interest or require monthly payments. Another option is to secure a small loan from a bank or credit union. This option will likely require collateral, such as your home, and may have a higher interest rate than other options.

A third option is to seek out investors. This could be family and friends or even strangers through crowdfunding platforms. Investors will expect some return on their investment, so this should be factored into your business plan. Which financing option you choose will depend on your circumstances and the money you need to get your business up and to run. Be sure to explore your options and choose the option that makes the benefit for your car wash business.

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Automatic Car Wash Station
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Operating the business

Assuming you have secured the necessary permits and licenses, you are ready to open your car wash business. Here are some tips on how to operate your business successfully:

  1. Hire qualified and trustworthy employees. Your employees will be responsible for interacting with customers, so they must be friendly and efficient. Screen candidates carefully during the hiring process and conduct background checks if necessary.
  2. Train your employees properly. Once you have hired your team, please provide them with comprehensive training on safely using the equipment and chemicals and providing excellent customer service.
  3. Implement strict safety protocols. Car washes can be dangerous if proper safety protocols are not followed strictly. Be sure to post clear signs and instructions throughout the premises, and ensure all employees are aware of and follow the safety rules at all times.
  4. Keep the premises clean and orderly. A messy car wash is not only unappealing to customers, but it can also create hazards. Therefore, ensure all car wash areas are clean and free of clutter and that any spills are cleaned immediately.
  5. Offer competitive pricing. To attract customers, you need to offer prices that are in line with or better than your competitors. Periodically check what others in your area are charging and adjust your rates accordingly.

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Car Washing
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Starting a car wash business in the USA can be a great method to enter the business market. With the right planning and execution, you can build a successful car wash business that will serve your customers well and provide you with a good income. We hope that our tips and information have helped you start your car wash business journey and given you some useful insights into how to make it succeed.


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