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No sea monsters here – sonar finds better way to clean your car

A Volvo is washed at the Saucon Valley Auto Spa.
A Volvo is washed at the Saucon Valley Auto Spa.

The same technology that the Navy has been using to track down enemy subs since before World War II will now be making sure nothing – and nobody – touches your car at a Saucon Valley car wash.

Saucon Valley Auto Spa has upgraded its already touchless, automatic car wash to utilize sonar to make sure there are no accidental glances between machine and paint job.

The sonar technology is the latest upgrade offered for the touchless system, which the auto spa has been using since it opened in 2008.

The advantage, according to spa owner Robert Agentis, is that sonar offers added precision in measuring the size of a vehicle and any protruding features from mirrors to bike racks.

That way, the automated equipment knows the entire size and scope of the vehicle before it goes in for cleaning with its high-pressure washers and doesn’t accidentally come in too close and bump the surface of the vehicle.

To me, the driver of a not-quite-cherry 2014 Mazda 3, it seems like a bit of overkill using sonar to make sure nothing grazes my car.

But then again, I’m not the target market for the service, Agentis said.

“We get a lot of luxury cars in here,” he explained.

I guess if I had a brand-new Lamborghini, I might feel slightly different about someone messing with my baby.

Heck, even my husband gets a little hyper about who touches his precious Ford Explorer. He usually washes it himself rather than “risk certain vehicular destruction” at a drive-thru car wash.

Agentis said it’s actually more of a convenience than a safety feature.

The pressure sensors are already set so high that even the most-gentle tap will immediately shut down the equipment, and it’s generally a light-enough tap that it wouldn’t damage the vehicle. In fact, he said he’d never had a problem with scratches or damage from his old system.

But, it does mean the system has to be reset and the vehicle has to leave and re-enter to complete the wash, turning what was supposed to be a seven-minute scrub into a minor headache for the driver.

Plus, he said the investment for the purchase and installation of the new sensor technology was less than $7,000, so he thinks it’s money well spent to be able to assure customers of the quality and convenience of the wash.

Any differentiator can help a car wash stand out against the competition, and get high-end car owners, who tend to splurge on expensive upgrades.

And it’s a far cry from the car-washing days of yore when a trip betwixt the scrubbers of your neighborhood drive-thru felt more like an attack by a giant sea monster than proper auto maintenance.

Which, frankly, my overactive imagination always enjoyed, but again I’m not the target demographic.

 

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