How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash? [Newest]

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash [Newest]

How much does it cost to build a car wash? Depending on the type of car wash you want to open, there are a ton of different variables. We will cover some very broad numbers to get your head around the finances.

Depending on the kind, size, and location of the car wash, the cost to build one could range from $250k to $6 million (or more). The least expensive to construct are self-serve car washes, while the most expensive are automatic tunnel washes. Another significant consideration is the price of the land.

Continue reading for details.

What’s the Average Cost to Build a Car Wash?

The size of the structure and the type of car wash (self-service versus automatic) are the two main factors that affect the average cost to build a car wash. The cost to build your facility should still be between $150 and $300 per square foot.

The cost will increase significantly to construct a car wash with all the additional elements you’ll need (such as a water treatment system, piping, and automatic car wash equipment). If you require a lot of additional infrastructure and equipment, it could cost anywhere from $450k to several million dollars.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash [Newest]
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash? [Newest]

Building Car Wash Price Factors

The cost of building a car wash will heavily depend on factors like land, building materials, and technology used.

The size of the car wash itself also plays a significant role.

Land Costs

A significant portion of your expenses will be determined by the price of the land and the location. For example, the cost of land in busy industrial areas can exceed $1,000 per square foot.

Construction costs could fall to $25–$50 per square foot if you’re building in less congested areas. This means that the price of a lot in, say, Dallas, Texas, can range from $60,000 for a small lot to well over $1 million.

Leveling and Excavation

Unless you’re buying an already prepared lot, you’ll almost certainly have to have it leveled and excavated. That will entail hiring someone to complete the task.

Often, excavation work starts out between $50 and $200 per square yard. The parking lot will also need to be leveled and excavated.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash [Newest]
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash? [Newest]

Cost of Building Materials

Typically, almost anything can be used to construct a car wash’s exterior. However, wood builds are not recommended because they are prone to rotting.

Rather, prefabricated steel, concrete, or brick are used to construct the majority of car washes. The latter is normally the most cost-effective.

For instance, the price of a prefabricated steel building can range from $6 to $120 per square foot. On average, you can expect to pay about $18 per square foot of the building.

Therefore, the price of building a car wash can be significantly reduced by using prefabricated steel. However, it won’t last as long as a concrete or brick build.

The average cost of a square foot of concrete construction is between $10 and $250. The foundation is typically included in this.

You’ll also have an extremely water-resistant build, which is very likely to be able to withstand damage and vandalism.

Technology Used

You can expect to pay between $8,000 and $15,000 per bay for a straightforward pump and jet system in a self-service car wash, depending on the pump, charge equipment, and dispensers in the bay.

A tunnel car wash, on the other hand, can be significantly more expensive if it has automated conveyors and brushes. For example, you might expect

  • Pay Stations
  • Tunnel Controllers
  • Conveyors
  • Hydraulics
  • Brushes
  • Pumping Stations
  • Tire Pressure/Air Pressure Systems
  • Security Equipment
  • Relay Stations
  • Pumps
  • Vacuum System
  • Water Reclamation System
  • Water Filtration System
  • Heating
  • Blowers

Pumps, vacuums, and an air pump are all that are required for a simple self-service system. You’ll also need security. You must select higher-pressure pumps if you want an automatic car wash.

You must also filter your wastewater before sending it to a water treatment facility, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In some states, it’s also mandatory to have a water reclamation system in place, so that you reuse water rather than sending it to the sewer.

You should budget $35,000 or more for a quality wastewater management system. For the entire car wash, you only require one.

Ultimately, when all equipment is taken into account, you can spend up to $250,000 per bay. A functional automatic bay, however, can be had for $49,000.

Conveyor and tunnel bays will always be more expensive in this case; however, customers will probably pay a higher price as well.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash [Newest]
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash? [Newest]

Number of Bays

The typical increase in cost for each additional bay on your lot is $50,000 or more. The price of extra land isn’t accounted for in that.

In addition, if you have a large car wash, you’ll need additional pumps to maintain water pressure at the furthest bays.

For this reason, the most cost-effective system is normally to either have a pump per bay or to install the number of bays that work best with your pump.


You might need to build ramps, install sidewalks, and make your car wash as accessible as you can depending on where you live.

Basic landscaping to improve the exterior of the car wash is also important for merchandising.

Otherwise, landscaping should primarily consist of creating a parking lot or waiting area, ensuring that clients can vacuum and clean the inside of their cars, especially while waiting for bays to empty, and making sure the lot is well-lit.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash [Newest]
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash? [Newest]

Types of Car Wash Builds and Costs

Costs will vary significantly depending on the kind of car wash you install.

That’s because you’ll have to invest in completely different equipment and technology depending on automation.

Touchless Car Wash

Touchless car washes are a type of automatic car wash that cleans cars with high-pressure water jets. In most cases, these require significant investment in pumps.

Building a touchless car wash is slightly more expensive than building an automatic one, but only because the equipment is more expensive and sophisticated. Building a touchless car wash typically costs between $750,000 and several million dollars.

It might be preferable in some circumstances to buy an existing car wash and make renovations rather than construct a touchless car wash from the ground up. However, that will really depend on your geographic location and how much land and construction costs run in your area.

The cost of building the car wash building is approximately $500k (or more), and the equipment for the touchless car wash will cost at least $250k. On top of that, you’ll need to consider site fees, plumbing and sewage, water treatment, permits, landscaping, signage, marketing, insurance, and so on.

Touchless Car Wash
Touchless Car Wash


The automated or rollover car wash, also known as a tunnel car wash, is the most common system in the United States. In fact, almost half of the systems in the United States are tunnel car washes.

They are one of the most expensive to construct, though. Normally, base equipment costs around $650,000 here.

You’ll also need to budget an additional $500,000 to $800,000 for land, vacuum equipment, plumbing, and water reclamation.

After those expenses, the typical price per bay is $50,000. This means it’s unlikely you can install a tunnel car wash for less than $1 million.

However, costs can exceed $5 million depending on size, especially if you’re installing the car wash in an urban area.

Cars are moved through a series of hydraulic arms, brushes, and high-pressure water jets using a conveyor belt in tunnel car washes. Normally done with the driver still inside, they clean the car.

Depending on the service, you can also integrate waxing and polishing stages.

Automatic car washes typically take four minutes. It can take up to an additional 8 minutes to wax and polish.



You can setup a smaller-scale car wash without a conveyor and tunnel using jet and hydraulic arm automatic car wash systems. But typically they function in a manner that is similar to touchless systems.

They could have brushes and hydraulic arms, unlike the touchless system.

Depending on the features, these systems can cost anywhere between $21,000 and $80,000 or more. For instance, a straightforward two-arm design with jets will set you back $20,000–$30,000.

You should prepare to pay significantly more if you want a dryer, window cleaners, and wheels cleaned.

These systems are perfect for remote, enclosed, and fully autonomous car washes. A completely unattended car wash is one example. Alternatively, if you want to expand another company with a single car wash bay.



Because it is less complex and requires fewer components than an automatic car wash, a self-serve car wash is the most affordable type to construct. These facilities typically consist only of concrete bays with plumbing equipment added to dispense water and soap products.

It can cost anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million or more to build a self-serve car wash. Like any other business, much of the cost to build depends on your land costs and the specific construction costs in your geographic location.

These numbers can give you a good idea of how much it would cost to build your self-serve car wash based on size because construction costs typically range from $160 to $300 per square foot.

In contrast to a larger car wash with multiple bays, which would be much more expensive, a smaller 800 square foot wash would cost about $251,000. Of course, that expense only represents the cost of building and construction. As a result, you would still need to think about things like plumbing, site work, and equipment.

This guide will go over how to wash a car at home and some frequently asked questions about best practices for washing cars in order to assist you in keeping your car clean. 


Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does a Car Wash Machine Cost?

The price range for a conveyor car wash system is between $1,400,000 and $2,100,000. Depending on the features and size, car wash equipment prices can change. Owner and car wash tunnel designer decisions may affect costs.

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Car Wash?

The operational costs of car wash businesses vary greatly depending on a number of variables, including employed staff, the type of car wash system(s) your business uses, real estate costs, and more. The cost of running a car wash is therefore difficult to determine with precision.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Car Wash Business?

The cost of a car wash business widely ranges based on several factors, including the type of car wash, the location of the car wash, and its overall revenue. Refer to the aforementioned chart to get a general idea of how much it will cost to build a new car wash business, or get in touch with us right away to learn more about purchasing an existing car wash business.

How Much Money Does a Car Wash Make?

A car wash business’s revenue is also very erratic. You can anticipate to make between $40,000 and $100,000 a year from your business if you operate a typical, self-serve car wash in a reasonably populated area. On the other hand, operating sizable, multi-bay car washes in a densely populated area can easily bring in more than $500,000 per year. The type of car wash you own is everything.

Is a Car Wash Passive Income?

Car washes that are automated can provide some passive income. But management and upkeep are necessary for every business.

If you have an automated car wash, you’ll still have to monitor for vandalism, respond to emergencies, and ensure that the facilities stay clean. Keeping supplies stocked is another requirement.

However, compared to something like a quick-service restaurant, car washes can provide a lot less work and maintenance. As a result, many individuals do view automated car washes as a source of passive income.

Summary: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Car Wash?

Building a car wash can be a great way to start investing and becoming an entrepreneur. Car washes also cost a lot of money. Costs should typically range from $150 to $300 per square foot. For that to succeed, you’ll need to carefully consider your location, do your homework on your options, and make sure there’s enough demand.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment. KV Auto tries to give you the best car industry information. Thank you for reading.

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