Car Wash Systems for Spot-Less Rinse

Car Wash Applications

Quality equipment, the right chemistry, and quality water (not to mention some hard work) are the primary ingredients to a successful car wash. The design of car wash equipment and the buildings that house the car washes have risen to meet the expectations of a much more sophisticated consumer who seeks quality, convenience and value – or should I say added value. Value does not necessarily mean the least expensive, it means obtaining the best quality wash for the price. Whether you operate a full-service car wash/exterior tunnel, self-serve car wash or touch-free automatic, the addition of a reverse osmosis/spot-free rinse system will have an immediate positive impact on your clientele. The reverse osmosis system will deliver a final spot-free rinse to the vehicle at the conclusion of the wash process as it exits the wash. The effective use of spot-free water will displace all residual chemical and city or mineral-laden water (including reclaim water) and allow the entire vehicle, including glass, chrome and painted surfaces, to dry perfectly spot-free!


All car washes – soft cloth, either conveyor or rollover; high-pressure touchless automatics; and self-serve bays – use water as the primary means of rinsing the dirt, road grime, salt, and snow off the surface of the vehicle during the wash process. All soaps use water as the delivery medium from the chemical station out to the vehicle to assist in breaking up those contaminants. Water softeners have been a mainstay in the wash industry and have provided a means to remove the hard mineral deposits that prevent soap from working efficiently.

Water is an increasingly expensive commodity, making reclaim and recycle systems an intelligent choice. Many municipalities now require such systems prior to permitting and these systems could assist in avoiding expensive impact fees. Reclaim systems have made great strides in cleaning and re-using the processed water, and while there are chemicals formulated to work specifically with processed reclaim water, you will improve the cleaning ability of your chemical by utilizing spot-free water generated by your reverse osmosis system.

In touchless automatics, where you rely solely on high-pressure water and quality chemistry, it is very important to use the highest quality water you can. Hard tap water is better than reclaim, softened water is better than hard, spot-free is better yet. Mixing your pre-soak chemicals with spot-free water is gaining popularity with wash manufacturers, chemical suppliers, and large multi-site wash owners. As shown in the table above, most touchless automatics would use 2 to 4 gallons per wash depending on manufacturer and whether they use a single soap pass or a two-stage product. Heating the water and soap mixture is also helpful. However, if you are using spot-free water, please verify with your heater supplier that the heater element is compatible with the purified water. Carbon steel-based heater cores will be dissolved in short order. Copper coils are a little more tolerant, but the pure nature of the spot-free water is very attractive to the solder joints, which can deteriorate or leak in time. Ceramic-lined heaters are currently being tested with over 350,000 gallons of reverse osmosis water having run it’s course with no ill effects. The results have been positive and may provide a cost-effective alternative. Currently, stainless steel would still be the best choice.


Sometimes, if a car wash site has a reclaim system, the concentrate or reject water is plumbed into the reclaim holding tanks. For every vehicle washed in a system with a reclaim, you will need 6 gallons of make-up water due to carryout and evaporation. Looking again at the table, above, it can be seen that in almost all applications that water would come from the final rinse. With the introduction of the reject water into your reclaim, you will be turning the water in your tanks over and sending the “overflow” to the sewer. This will improve the quality of your reclaim water by diluting the solids and therefore keeping it fresher.

In applications without a sewer hook-up, called “zero-discharge” systems, the concentrate is captured in a tank. As the wash requires “make-up” water, a float in the reclaim tank tells the pump the reclaim is low on water and the pump responds by filling the reclaim tank and keeping the wash running, without wasting water.


Reverse osmosis systems and their effective use of spot-free water have really come of age. As the car wash industry continues to become more competitive and the consumer more sophisticated, the addition of a spot-free rinse system can provide you the competitive edge you need to keep your customers coming back to your site for all their vehicle washing needs!

Standard Features:

  • Slim-Mild Steel Frame
  • Skid-Mount Frame
  • Stainless Steel Pressure Vessels
  • 316 Stainless Steel Centrifugal Pump
  • Easy Connect Upper and Lower Level Control
  • Switches in Electronic Box
  • Adjustable Frequency Flush
  • Integrated Cleaning Feature
  • Electronic Control with TDS Monitor/Visual Alarm
  • 316 Stainless Steel Recycle Valve
  • Concentrate Flow Meter
  • Permeate Flowmeter
  • Low Pressure Automatic Reset
  • First Array Pressure Gauge
  • Feed Pressure Gauge
  • Concentrate Control Gauge
  • 316 Stainless Steel Concentrate Control Valve
  • Tank Full Float Ball
  • 5-Micron Pre Filter
  • Carbon Filter with Auto Backwash
  • Compact Footprint
  • Pre-plumbed and pre-wired

Advantages of Car wash Water System Complete Spot-Free Rinse Systems Include:

  • Physical Conditioner Eliminates the need for water softeners in most cases*
  • Total Integrated Design specifically tailored for demanding Carwash Environment
  • Compact Design for crowded equipment rooms
  • Optional integrated permeate repressurization
  • Optional integrated permeate storage with level controls
  • Optional integrated concentrate storage with level controls for concentrate reuse
  • Optional integrated multi-point permeate distribution system
  • Braided stainless steel pressure hoses
  • Over 30 Years of experience with dedicated water systems for carwash applications

Application Note: Spot-Free Rinse for Carwashes

Carwashes, especially “Touch-Free” water systems, depend on the special capability of reverse osmosis systems to dependably remove dissolved solids from municipal or well water sources that leave business-killing water spots on cars. Carwashes also provide an opportunity for the application of related water treatment equipment such as storage and distribution in addition to post treatment and water reclamation systems.

Pakwater Care Services has over 10 years of designing, building, and supporting equipment in this highly specialized niche. Call your application engineer to tap into our wealth of experience in profitably applying water treatment equipment in car washes.

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