When researching how to save money on a truck wash, it was disappointing to us to find that most of the savings were directed to the businesses, not to the drivers.
However, money saving tips are available.
Depending on the freight you are hauling, you may be required to clean your vehicle -- inside, outside or both -- on a regular basis.
Since we have hauled primarily dry vans, we have no experience whatsoever with refrigerated van wash outs or tanker wash outs.
In fact, we have never had any of the trailers we hauled washed at all, just the tractors.
We fully realize that different drivers have different makes and styles of trucks.
For the purposes of this page, we have written generically from the standpoint of a driver with a high profile, "condo-style" tractor, because those have a lot of vertical surface area to clean.
When it comes to truck washes, there are five basic approaches:
Each one of these methods of washing trucks depends upon:
In this photo, professional driver Mike Simons is washing the truck that he drove as a company driver -- at home using his own water, soap and equipment.
Obviously, not every professional truck driver has the tools and means by which to wash his/her own truck at home.
Even if you have the desire to wash your own truck yourself, there are certain factors to bear in mind.
Folks who run a commercial truck wash have to be concerned about such matters as detergent, water run-off and environmental issues.
You may need to check on these issues for cleaning your truck at home or in a parking lot somewhere.
We have never paid to have our vehicle hand-dried following a truck wash.
However, the advantages of drying your vehicle include no water spots and not attracting road dirt on the droplets.
Window cleaner may not be the most effective solvent for getting rid of salt on windows.
Good old soap and water may be better.
Windows may need to be cleaned on the inside to match how clean they are outside.
Whenever Mike has paid to have his truck washed, he has always requested the aluminum brighteners for the wheels.
This does a magnificent job of sprucing up the look of the tractor.
There's an old proverb that reads:
"Where no oxen are, the manger is clean,
But much increase comes by the strength of the ox."(1)
In other words for the purpose of this page, if you're going to use a truck to haul freight, it's going to get dirty over a period of time.
Also, it may be harder to keep clean certain colors of tractors, like white and black.
The advantages of having a clean truck are:
If a trucking company does not think highly enough of itself to pay for a truck wash for each truck in its fleet at least once every quarter, what does that say about
Think about it: What are all of the ramifications of having a dirty truck?
Among them are
Theoretically, a shipper could come to the conclusion that if a trucking company is unwilling to take care of its own equipment, it won't take care of the freight being shipped by its trucks either.
It could also result in a loss of business. (Disclaimer: We haven't heard of this happening; but in a tight economy, having a good, clean company image can make the difference between getting and keeping business and losing it.)
When we were at the headquarters of the trucking company for which Mike drove in December 2009, he learned from one of the guys operating a mobile truck wash unit that the company had not paid for any fleet tractors to be washed for the last 13 months (that is, since November 2008).
The only cleaning that they were doing was on trucks being assigned to new hires!
We personally disagree with this philosophy, but this was their choice, not ours.
Observe the photo here, of a refrigerated van with its rear doors covered in road dirt and salt.
Refrigerated trucks most often haul refrigerated freight (perishable foodstuffs, beverages and other products that need to be kept cold).
Some shippers may refuse to ship their foodgrade products on a dirty truck.
If the doors are dirty, then the seals around the doors probably need to be cleaned, too.
The seals help protect the freight inside a trailer from anything that could make its way inside during transit.
When you get a refrigerated van washed, make sure that the small access door also gets cleaned.
Among your concerns should be timing.
A mobile truck washing service might be able to wash tractors at trucking companies while they are parked at a terminal.
If you go to a commercial facility, you may have to wait in line for the service, and then wait while the service is performed on your truck.
One expert estimates that it should take between 20-30 minutes to properly wash a truck.(2)
Mike says that he is aware that Blue Beacon accepts:
If you are a frequent user of a commercial truck washing service, ask about getting discounts for a bundle of services.
Before you buy, understand all of the terms of a bulk purchase.
Based on everything we've read about this subject, it is foolhardy not to practice good external truck cleanliness as a means of protecting one's investment in trucking equipment.
Leaving a truck unwashed for months and months at a time may seem to be a direct cost savings, but in the end it could end up leading to even greater indirect cost outlays.
Money saving tip: If you're looking for ways to save money on truck washes, consider the following:
Please note that independently owned truck washes are not required to accept driver reward points in exchange for services.
In fact, we've never seen any advertisements to the effect that a commercial facility on the grounds of a truckstop would accept driver rewards points.
However, it is possible that given enough driver requests, such a set-up can be made sometime in the future.
1. Proverbs 14:4