There are probably more variables involved with determining the cost to start a car wash than any other yet it is the most frequently asked question. If you are going to invest in a business your first question should be “How much money can I plan to make with a self-serve car wash?” The biggest mistake you could make is to under-build for the location since it makes it more difficult to evaluate or recover your investment and leaves the door open for a competitor to move in and take away customers with a nicer facility. A competent equipment supplier can be worth their weight in gold because they can advise you on expected costs based on the area, the scope of the project, and average or typical experiences of their customers.
While the final number can and will vary, here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind. Your minimal investment when working with bank financing is about 25%-30% down. Self service washes run $60,000-$80,000 per bay to build and add $100,000 for each in-bay automatic to the wash. A lot of used self service car wash sites are going from $600,000-$2,000,000. To build a car wash, a common rule is 1/3 of the total project cost goes to land, 1/3 to equipment and 1/3 to the building. The cost to start a car wash can vary but expect pricing for a new wash in many markets to range from $1,250,000 to $4,000,000 which is a big price to pay. Make sure you have enough traffic to be profitable.