How Much Does Car Wash Owners Make?

The car wash market is a lucrative one, offering quite a good profit margin and profits without too much risk and effort compared to other businesses.

Generally, car wash businesses are profitable because they can come in various forms, and the market is big.

You can open an automatic one, a conveyor one, or some other type all in one place.

This variety helps you to get all kinds of people to your business and offer them something.

If you want to own your own car wash, you might wonder how much car wash owners make and if it’s worth all the effort.

This article will go through the numbers of how much car wash owners make and the surrounding details.

How Much Does Car Wash Owners Make
How Much Does Car Wash Owners Make?

Average Income of Car Wash Owners

Estimating the annual income of car wash businesses is tricky because there are many variables, such as your prices, costs, and the type of car wash.

There are several estimations about it, but they might not always be reliable.

On average, any kind of car wash could make anywhere between $50,000 to $500,000. Here is the average income per car wash type:

TypeAverage Annual Profit
Exterior Conveyor$680,000

Full-service is the most expensive type of car washes out of all, but it also generates the highest profit.

Self-service is with the lowest labor and maintenance cost because customers clean their cars themselves, but it also generates the lowest profit.

These numbers are only average and could change drastically on several factors.

To give an example, Crew Carwash, one of the biggest car wash brands in the United States, has an annual revenue of $72 million.

They have over 40 stores which means they generate less than $2 million per store, and they have exterior conveyor type of car washes, so they are over the average number.

Average Profit Margin

The profit margins of a car wash largely depend on your situation and your choices.

On average, the car wash industry has a profit margin of between 10%-20%. To give an example, the fee for in-bay automatic car washes is typically about $6. On average, $4 of this price is profit.

Monthly Average Income

The monthly income relies mostly on the number of bays you have and how many sales you make, and it could vary a lot.

On average, for every type of car wash, the monthly income is about $50,000.

However, if you don’t have a lot of bays and you are running one of the low-income car wash types, you might be under this number.

For example, one bay at a self-service car wash brings in about $1,500 a month. If you don’t have enough bays, $50,000 is not really plausible.

Average Money Car Wash Employees Earn

As of 1 May 2023, the average salary for car wash employees is $12 an hour.

However, the range is typically between $10 to $15, $15 being one of the most frequent numbers. $15 an hour equals roughly $35,000 annually.

The more experienced ones could make close to $50,000 annually, and the new employees earn about $25,000 annually.

These numbers are just salaries and do not include the benefits, if there are any. With benefits, it could be way higher than $50,000.

Factors Affecting Car Wash Owner Income

Factors Affecting Car Wash Owner Income

The only thing affecting the income of a car wash is not the type of car wash.

There are other factors affecting any type of car wash’s income. They play a major role in making whether owning a car wash is worth it or not.


Car washes located in high-traffic areas, such as busy intersections or near highways, tend to make more than those in less busy areas.

This is because the discoverability is higher than those that are not in these areas and attract more attention.

The location also affects the type of customers, such as those living in upscale neighborhoods or commercial areas.


As you can imagine, the more car you can wash, the more profit you will make. Larger car washes can wash more cars at once, which translates to higher revenue.

The size of a car wash can also affect the types of services you can offer. For example, you can offer two types of car wash at the same time in one location if you have the space.

Car wash type

The type of car wash affects the profit margin, the number of cars you can wash, and other important details.

Full-service car washes, for example, tend to make more money per car than express washes.

Detailing services can also increase revenue, but they require more time and labor, which increases operating costs.

Recurring costs

Recurring costs are costs that you have to pay each month. They include rent, utilities, and payroll, which can put an exceptional blockage in your total income if they are expensive.

Car washes with high rent and utility costs may have lower profit margins, while those with lower operating costs can be more profitable.


Using modern and efficient equipment in the car wash store can reduce operating costs.

It’s easier to maintain the new ones, and outdated or faulty equipment can increase expenses and reduce customer satisfaction mostly because outdated equipment requires frequent and more expensive maintenance.


Car washes in densely populated areas have more potential customers and higher demand, while those in less populated areas may struggle to attract customers.

Demographics, such as the average income of the population, can also affect the type of services and prices you are offering.

How Much Does a Car Wash Cost To open?

In addition to the money car wash owners make, if you are going to build and open your own car wash instead of buying one, then you must know about the costs.

Opening a car wash comes with three different types of costs, and all of them are important. These costs are startup, operating, and variable costs:

TypeAverage Cost
Startup Costs$50,000-$5 million
Operating/Fixed Costs$20,000-$25,000
Variable Costs$5,000-$100,000

Startup costs are generally one-time fees that you pay before starting the operations.

Operating costs are recurring costs that you generally pay every month, which are fixed most of the time.

Variable costs are the costs that change every month depending on the cars you service. These are the average costs for each type.

Tips to Maximize Car Wash owner income

Tips to Maximize Car Wash owner income

Car wash businesses are lucrative businesses, but there is always room for growth. Here are some tips that you can use to maximize the income of your car wash business.

  • Offer more than one type of car wash.
  • Use technology such as a good POS system to enhance the process.
  • Go for higher-quality equipment rather than cheap and old ones.
  • Create a customer loyalty program.
  • Use your marketing power effectively and target your audience.

There are many other tips that any car wash business owner can utilize to increase their income.

However, most of those depend on your individual situation and how your car wash can be upgraded.

These are some of the most commonly overlooked things that could be extremely useful.


Operating a car wash business is definitely one of the most lucrative opportunities in the business world.

On average, a car wash owner can make anywhere between $40,000 to $900,000 with one location and a couple of bays in the shop.

If you increase the number of locations, you can make more than $1 million. As an example, a big car wash company, Crew Carwash, makes about $72 million in annual revenue.

The total cost to open a car wash could range anywhere between $200,00 to $5 million depending on the size, location, and other details.

The same things also affect your overall recurring costs, affecting your annual income.

However, a car wash business is definitely a lucrative opportunity and could provide you with six or seven figures of annual income if you can manage the business well.



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