Car washes fall into five categories:
- Self service - An open bay ( the area that the car sits inside ) is typically used in these systems. Self-service systems have a pressure sprayed and sometimes a foaming brush, that is connected to a large central pump. The sprayer has a coin-operated dial system to select the option you want, such as "soap", "rinse" and "wax". A timer shuts the water off after a certain period of time, at which point you must put in more coins if you want more water.
- Exterior rollover - A system that is growing in popularity, exterior rollover car washes are autoated systems where you drive your car inside the bay. Once your car is in the correct position, a signal informs you to stop. At that point, the car-wash equipment moves over your car on a track, performing a specific function, such as applying soap or rinsing, with each pass. Exterior rollover systems are very common at gas stations, where the price is often discounted in conjunction with buying a tank of gas.
- Exterior only - This automated system is popular in the northeasten part of the United States, but can be found all over the world. You drive your car into the entrance of a long , tunnel - like bay. The front tire, usually on the driver's side, is positioned on a special conveyor belt, and you put the car in neutral. The conveyor belt guides the car through the bay, where the car goes pst several pieces of equipment, each with a specific purpose.
- Full service - A modification of the exterior - only system, full service uses the same conveyor - belt - based automated system. The difference is that the interior is manually cleaned by attendants, and some exterior services, such as hand drying and wheel - cleaning, are available.
- Detail shop - A detail shop may hand wash or use an automated system to wash the car. Then, attendants completely clean and polish the car, normally applying wax and using tool called a buffer to remove the wax and polish the car. Detail shops are often able to remove dull paint and small scratches, steam clean carpets and seats, brighten chrome, remove tar and perform a variety of other services.