by Tim Fitzpatrick, Mid-Atlantic Sales Manager, Howco Inc.
Most fashionistas will be quick to tell you that “shoes make the outfit” and your footwear is often the first thing people notice about you. The analogy for having clean and shiny wheels on a freshly washed car is a natural extension of this philosophy.
While tire and rim cleaning may seem to be one of the more straightforward processes in an automatic car wash, the setup and monitoring of wheel-cleaning equipment and chemicals are important for optimal performance.
There are two methods for cleaning wheels, determined by whether the car is on a conventional, chain-driven conveyor system in which the tires actually roll with the car (in neutral) through the track, or on a flat belt system wherein the belt conveys the vehicle with tires remaining stationary.
For standard track conveyors, wheel washing requires a combination of chemical applications, brush friction, and high-pressure water rinse. We recommend that operators use two sets of chemical tire applicators in the wash, typically at the beginning of the tunnel: one immediately after the photo eye, and another after the pre-soak arch. The first applies a high-pH chemical to the tires and rims, while the second adds a low-pH formula. Then the wheels pass through tire brushes followed by a high-pressure rinse for an optimal cleaning process. There are multiple options for tire brushes, and a Howco representative can help you determine which brushes and chemicals are best for your operation.
For flat belt systems, tire brushes are not an option since the vehicle wheels are not turning. Some recent Howco-built wash customers feature three chemical tire applicators positioned at different heights, along with two sets of high-pressure Wheel Blasters. We have found this to be a productive combination.
The car wash industry is continually exploring innovation and advancements in wheel cleaning. Speak with a Howco representative today to get the latest updates and determine the right formula to ensure shiny rims and tires for your customers.