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Mark VII Equipment Inc.


5981 Tennyson St

Arvada, Colorado 80003 USA

+1 800.525.8248 toll free

+1 303.423.4910 direct

+1 303.430.0139 fax



WTMVII Cleaning Technologies Canada, Inc.

5035 North Service Road, Unit D11-13

Burlington, Ontario L7L 5V2, Canada

866.658.9274 toll free

289.235.8325 direct

289.235.7950 fax

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Tunnel Washes for C-Stores: What You Need to Know

Tunnel Washes for C-Stores: What You Need to Know

When you need to wash a lot of cars fast, a tunnel wash can offer a great option. Did you know Mark VII offers a line of high-quality tunnel washes to meet a variety of needs?

“While we’re known for rollover equipment, we offer a line of tunnel washes, too,” says Pierre Leclerq, vice president of business development for Mark VII. “We continue to get more questions from convenience stores and other customers about the benefits of tunnels.”

Mark VII and its parent company, WashTec AG of Germany, partner with all the major c-store and gas station brands worldwide. “We have years of experience working with c-stores,” Leclerq says. “We can share valuable insights to help you decide what car wash equipment will work best for your business.”

Q: What trends are you seeing in the c-store market?

More owners are investing a lot of effort and money to move from a “gas station” concept to a “convenience store” concept. All the major companies in this sector are striving to make their c- store a destination for their customers, not just a place to refuel vehicles. These store owners are investing in food (both hot and cold options), coffee and hot drinks, high-quality products on the store’s shelves, and high-quality car washes.

The key word in this business is “convenience.” Customers reward convenience and tend to be loyal to “their” c-store. When they buy a car wash, they expect fast, convenient access to the wash bay. Since there’s usually less staff at the car wash bay, compared to an express model tunnel, customers need to feel safe and confident about the car wash process. Customers also want consistent car wash quality.

Q: What benefits can a tunnel wash offer a c-store?

A: Throughput is the main benefit of a tunnel, compared to a rollover. With a rollover, a wash lasts from 3 minutes to 6 minutes (based on the wash program selected), and you can only wash one car at a time. This means the throughput is 10 to 15 cars per hour.

With a tunnel (specifically 50-foot to 60-foot-long tunnels), you can expect 50 cars per hour, since you can wash several cars at the same time, with multiple cars loaded on the conveyor. It’s all about flow.

Q: Is a tunnel wash better than a rollover?

A: It’s not a debate about whether tunnels are better than rollovers for a c-store. Each business has different needs. We don’t recommend investing in a tunnel if your site’s throughput potential isn’t high enough. If your site handles less than 1,500 cars a month, an in-bay automatic wash is the best solution, in terms of return on investment. If you have the potential to wash more than 1,500 vehicles a month, with big usage peaks during the week (where you see a long line of customers waiting for their wash), AND you have enough space to accommodate a tunnel, then a SoftLine tunnel wash from Mark VII could be the right fit for you.

Q: What does Mark VII offer for tunnel systems?

We have three high-quality options in our Softline tunnel series, including:

    • SoftLine 1.This is produced in our U.S. factory in Arvada, Colorado, (near Denver) and is distributed only in North America.
    • SoftLine 2.This is produced in our European factory in Augsburg, Germany, and is distributed worldwide, including North America.
    • SoftLine Drive Thru.This system, which is produced in our U.S. factory, was created specifically for the automotive industry. It’s designed for internal use at car dealerships and car rental facilities.

Q: Is your equipment designed for the specific needs of the North American market?

A: Yes.We know each market worldwide is different. The U.S. market wants:

  • Speed. While European customers expect a car wash to last 3 to 4 minutes, American customers expect a wash to last 2 to 2.5 minutes.
  • Ease of maintenance. Many American car wash operators want to do their own maintenance. They prefer an easy-to-service unit that uses components that can be found easily in the car wash market.
  • “Mix and match” options for different brands of equipment. While car wash operators in Europe tend to choose the same brand for all their car wash needs, car wash owners in North America often use different brands for the tunnel controller, entry system, some accessories, and the main car wash equipment. Our SoftLine 1 equipment is “open” to third-party components. It interfaces easily with any kind of tunnel controller, entry system or light-show controller.

Q: What makes Mark VII’s tunnels different from the competition?  

A:  Our tunnels provide a superior quality, compared to any equipment on the North American market.

  • Mark VII tunnels are electric, which means cleaner cars. We haven’t manufactured hydraulic tunnels for years. With electric motors, you can deliver a constant, monitored brush pressure, which is key to a clean car. With a hydraulic motor, the pressure varies a lot, due to external factors like temperature and the condition of the motor. More importantly, you can’t connect a hydraulic motor to a brush controller and manage the brush pressure on the car during a wash. Also, there’s no risk of hydraulic leaks with an electric motor.
  • Sturdy, stainless-steel frames offer superior quality. We build massive, 5,500-pound frames that won’t shake during the wash. A shaky frame can impact the longevity of the motors. It also creates an inconsistent brush pressure on the car. A sturdy frame maximizes our equipment’s ability to deliver a superior wash. Made of premium stainless steel, our frames also resist corrosion. This is important in a car wash, where the environment includes acid and alkaline products. Mark VII frames are built to last.

Q: What makes Mark VII’s brush controller unique?

A: We use integrated control technology to handle some of the trickiest wash challenges, such as SUVs’ back windows. Mark VII equipment doesn’t just run the motors with a variable frequency drive (VFD). It also monitors the motors via information from the inverter. This provides greater control over the brush, both electrically and mechanically.

Our equipment monitors the torque of each motor. Adjusting the brush pressure in real time, based on the size and shape of the car, allows for a more “aggressive” or “soft” process that delivers a superior car wash.

Mark VII’s brush controller system means precision, since each brush has its own VFD and settings. This makes the wraps move quickly when they reach the end of the side of the car and start cleaning a vehicle’s back window. Expect phenomenal results.

Q: Why do you recommend Mark VII Softline1 tunnels for c-stores?

SoftLine 1 is designed for wash quality and reliability. We know you and your employees are busy running the store and don’t want to hassle with the car wash. Softline 1 equipment is durable and can handle multiple types of cars in all kinds of shapes. Softline 1 will not stop if customers take a bit too long to put their car in neutral, although the equipment will stop if something goes wrong. Multiple safety sensors on the equipment, along with an anti-collision system at the exit, guarantee safe operation.

Softline 1 equipment also delivers a great car wash experience with soft brushes, a light show we can integrate on the machine, and Mark VII’s chemical program for superior cleaning.

You can also count on Mark VII for professional service after the sale. We have more than 120 service and chemical technicians –all Mark VII employees – who serve c-stores every day. We understand how c-stores operate, what safety rules they follow, what internal procedures they use, and how software works at the pump and in the store.

Above all, we respect your expectations for car wash uptime and equipment reliability. Every product in the WashTec/Mark VII group is designed to deliver a clean, dry, shiny car. Contact us to learn how a tunnel wash system from Mark VII can fit your business.