According to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 100,000 car wash facilities in the United States. A large percentage of these facilities are aging and either need to be updated to remain competitive in today’s market, or demolished and replaced with a building that can handle the space requirements of current car wash equipment. In an industry that continues to show growth every year, competition is expected, and therefore customer loyalty is coveted. The quality of the car wash and overall customer experience is paramount.

We all remember — and have probably used — the saying, “You have to spend money to make money.” This is true in the car wash industry where the average lifespan of equipment is approximately 10 years when properly maintained. Today’s advances in equipment, chemicals, types of services offered, etc. can render an aging facility obsolete. Your customers will remain loyal as long as they are receiving a perceived benefit from the services you offer.


Many of today’s consumers are attracted to high tech, eco responsible car wash facilities and will drive a little farther to find one. If you have been thinking about upgrading your car wash equipment to stay competitive, but your current building size can’t handle the additional square footage required to install it, rather than tearing down the building and starting over, do you have any other options? The answer is yes.

There can be a number of reasons for updating your current car wash building and equipment:
• The equipment and facility are aging and outdated.
• The cost of maintenance is outweighing the profit earned.
• You have a self-serve car wash or an in-bay automatic wash where each bay is tied up every time a car enters, leaving cars outside waiting their turn in line to use the washes. Lengthy wait times may be causing a loss in customers, and you want to upgrade to a tunnel wash to significantly cut down on wait times and increase your car-count capacity and profits.

Whatever your motivation for choosing new equipment may be, the size of your current building is a deciding factor in which equipment you can use — unless there was a way to change the building configuration without breaking the bank. Fortunately, there is.


Back to the age old saying, “You have to spend money to make money.” It begs the question: “How much money do I need to spend?” We all know that the new car wash equipment itself will be a significant investment in addition to the cost of renovating or rebuilding the existing facility. One solution to consider when deciding what to do with the current building is a cost effective, time saving building extensi

An exit-end extension.
An entrance-end extension.

A building extension is a manufactured addition that is attached to an existing facility. Extensions can be custom sized to the shape of the building and added to the entrance and/or exit sides to add the square footage needed to accommodate the new equipment. Often made from no rust aluminum framing and glass, a wide range of color options are available to match and enhance the existing structure. Adding roll up doors and lighting makes for a secure, attractive looking addition. Some extensions can even be purchased as kits, shipped directly to the business location, and installed by a contractor of the owner’s choosing.


Key benefits of a building extension include:
• Easy engineering for a quicker permit approval process.
• Quick installation: an extension can typically be installed in a day.
• Cost: an extension can be added at a fraction of the cost of a rebuild or renovation.

One example of a good reason to add an extension or two to a current building would be when an in-bay automatic car wash building is currently configured with a 40-foot car wash bay and the owner wants to upgrade to a 72-foot car wash tunnel. By either adding a 32-foot extension to the entrance or exit side of the bay or by splitting the square footage needed and adding 16 feet on each end, the building is quickly modified to accommodate the changes needed.

You already know that staying competitive and relevant in today’s car wash market is the key to your business success. If a teardown and rebuild isn’t in your budget, the cost saving option of a building extension leaves you more money to invest in your equipment upgrades and helps you reach profitability faster. That’s a win-win.

Cheri Williams is the director of marketing and sales for Shinn Buildings, LLC. You can contact her at or visit the company website at