This blog has considered the problem posed by Automatic Emergency Braking systems (AEB) and other systems before (read it HERE, it’s a good one), but with the 2022 deadline for universal implementation of these features nearing, the topic takes on increasing urgency for wash owners and customers.

Last year problems with modern vehicles were more commonly reported at car washes around the country than ever before, usually centering on one of the four following areas:

Collision Avoidance Systems, including AEB: These systems automatically scan the area ahead of the vehicle and engage brakes when facing an oncoming obstacle. While potentially life-saving on the highway, the system is not intended for use in the car wash tunnel and may lock down when faced with brushes or water curtains, causing vehicles to stop in their tracks and risk collision with those behind.

Electronic Parking Brakes: Designed to prevent roll away accidents, which are surprisingly common, a variety of vehicles are being equipped with systems that automatically engage parking brakes when the car detects rolling motion, even in neutral or with the vehicle switched off. Similar Shift to Park Systems only lock up the tires when the car is in neutral and the doors are opened—which may present an unwelcome challenge for conveyorized interior detailing teams.

Automatic Wipers: Triggered by the application of water on the vehicle, the wipers engage and are then torn off by the action of brushes which would otherwise pass over the wipers without incident. Drivers must be warned to disable the feature prior to wash entrance.

Keyless Entry Systems: When some vehicle mounted touchpads are contacted by car wash cloth they can record so many failed entries so quickly that the system goes into a theft prevention mode, closing and locking all doors until the vehicle is unlocked by use of the actual vehicle key. In the case of interior detailing carwashes, where the customer has left the vehicle prior to the starting wash, this lockout system can be disastrous. As a result, certain vehicles need their staff or the owners to ride through during the entire process, which can be time consuming and inefficient.

Manual overrides for most, if not all of these features are included in the operator’s manuals for the respective make and model. But without any sort of standardization the solutions can range in complexity from a button press to a complicated trudge through seven or eight settings in the electronic dashboard. This can cause long delays and embarrassment for many drivers approaching the tunnel, and puts pressure on team members expected to recognize a larger pool of problem vehicles while committing to memory the varied steps steps required to help drivers disarm the systems before the wash, and restore them afterwards.

These changes represent a challenge that will continue to test the car wash industry, an industry which must continue to lobby heavily for standardized deactivation procedures across the industry along with improved clarity from automotive manufacturers.

Operators are also invited to explore dual belt conversions as a solution for modernizing their washes against these and future features. The Tommy Transporter Dual Belt Conveyor sidesteps most wash-prohibitive systems,  securely carrying customer vehicles through the tunnel regardless of any braking or parking action that occurs. The 30” wide dual belt platforms are also able accommodate a far wider assortment of vehicles than other conveyor options (including dually tires, low riding vehicles, compact cars, and more) with faster loading and processing speed.

Please visit our equipment page to learn more.

Tommy Car Wash Systems