Mobile Auto Detailing Noise Reduction Strategy – Shop Vacuum Enclosure

The other day, I was in a high-end neighborhood in California and I noted that it was quite noisy. There were landscapers with air blowers, landscapers using weed wackers, and even a mobile detailer across the street using one of those 5 horsepower shop vacuum. “Why all the noise,” I thought, this is a nice neighborhood. You see, I was surprised that the customers would put up with that noise and nonsense. Apparently they had no choice, but I would submit to you that they actually do. Further, there’s opportunity here and I’d like to explain why.

If you own a mobile detailing business you should consider noise reduction strategies. Perhaps you should buy a portable generator such as the Honda which is very quiet, and use an electric pressure washer, an electric buffer, and find a way to reduce the noise of that shop vacuum. Now then, before I retired I franchised mobile auto detailing units around the country. We set up these mobile rigs on trailers, in vans, and on pickup trucks using skid units. In many locations we would clean vehicles right in office parking lots where office windows were adjacent to the cars we were cleaning.

Our customers were on the phone and having meetings so it was unacceptable to make noise. Nevertheless, those shop vacuum cleaners have a terrible squeal to them. What we did was we took a plastic trashcan cut a hole in the side for the vacuum hose and a small opening in the top with some air-conditioning vent mesh. Then we used insulation around the inside of the trashcan, the kind that is silver on one side with sticky tape on the other. This did the trick. You can hardly hear the sound, unless you stood right next to the trashcan, which was upside down covering the vacuum.

This should work just about anywhere, and we never made any noise. Best of all, we got more referrals, and folks used to tell us that they likes us better than the people they had before because we didn’t make any noise. They would tell their friends, and we got more business. It was that easy. Using best management practices for mobile auto detailing and noise reduction makes sense, and it makes dollars.

Interestingly enough, you can’t buy anything like this in the store, no one sells them, you have to make your own. But since I’ve explained how, I hope you will do this as soon as possible, and help keep the peace and quiet.

Generators for Mobile Auto Detailing and Car Washing Considered

Every small business needs equipment of some type to operate and a mobile auto detailing and/or car washing business is no different. In fact, since you are going to the customer’s car, you have to bring all your supplies with you, actually everything, including your own source of power and water. Not long ago a mobile detailer, well actually a future mobile detailer asked me:

“Do you use generators for the electrical tools?”

Indeed, we do use generators, generally Honda, due to their quiet, low-maintenance and reliability attributes. You need a minimum of 2500 watts, I recommend 3000 because a 5-6 hp. shop vac is really killer for vacuuming and sucking up waste water and pumping it into a holding tank or shrubbery, as you cannot allow it to enter the storm drain or water ways.

Also with 3000 watt you can go to an electric pressure washer, saving you from having two motors on-board or you can go 2200 -2500 watt and get a 5.5 hp pressure washer. But if you are going to clean big fleets, you’ll need to go with hot water (Landa – type skid unit, check the various brands out) and 2500-3000 PSI. I’d skip the big bad buffer syndrome, way over rated, if you are going to do that, stay with auto detailing, keep prices high, go for only high-end big ticket customers. That is a totally different business, this is why we separated them out for instance;


You see, once you determine the way in which you want to run your business and the type of equipment you’ll need, well then you can determine the size generator you’ll use. So, think on this.

Mobile Auto Detailing and Mobile On-Site Car Washing – How Much Water Do They Use?

Having built the largest mobile car wash business on the Planet and the most efficient systems in the industry over a 27-year period before retiring, folks still to this day email me and ask me questions about the industry. Not long ago someone emailed me claiming to be interested in setting up a mobile car wash business and he asked the following questions:

  1. “How many gallons of water does one wash use?”

  2. “How many gallons a day does a mobile car wash use?”

  3. “How many cars can you do in an 8 hour day?”

Well, for our systems, a really dirty SUV might use 7-10 gallons max, once you get good at it 5-6. Cars between 3-5 gallons, and once you get good about 2.3 gallons per car. This is because pressure washers only put out about (5.5 hp at 1800 psi) 2.3 gallons per minute (20-seconds spray down, 40 seconds of rinse). How many gallons per day, figure a crew of two on a busy day 60-car washes, or 80-100 if you do NO Wax jobs, which hardly ever happens.

A 200-gallon loaf tank is plenty, I recommend that you use a 110-gallon loaf tank if you have a pickup and put it in the back, if that truck is less than a 1-ton. Also this requires a little more patience when driving.

You need to know that this business is not an 8-hour yuppie business day type of industry. You work when the customer needs you. You might get up early one day for rental cars, work late another day cleaning school buses up until 10 PM ( and some customers will demand weekends, fleets mostly, including Sunday if you want to get it all done on time.

If you are a wimp about working more than 8-hours, get a job, join the union, and forget this industry all together. Sorry, for being blunt, but if you don’t have what it takes you have no business being in this industry, it will eat you alive, take all your money too.

It’s like an Ocean Wave; you can surf it, turn your back on it, but it is coming and doesn’t care what’s there. It will bring you a fish or knock you on your butt and drown you, see that point? Again, sorry if you are the academia type, government worker or were a sheltered child all your life, but that’s the way it is.