Water Softener Use In Mobile Auto Detailing

What is considered hard water and what are the degrees of hardness? Well very hard water would be 10.5 grains per gallon and 180 parts per million and above. But you need to realize that even moderately hard water of 3.5 to 7 grains per gallon and 60-120 parts per million will leave hard water spots. Slightly hard water such as 1 to 3.5 grains per gallon and 17.1 to 60 part per million will not leave noticeably hard water spots that you cannot cure with a chamois. But really as a professional auto detailer you are really looking for soft water of less than 1 grain per gallon and 17 parts per million.

What Makes The Water Hard?

Hardness in water is caused calcium and magnesium ions that form insoluble compounds; sometimes iron and even aluminum. There are many ways to soften water. Some are more complicated than others; Aeration, De-Ionization or ion-exchange, Distillation, Reverse Osmosis or Softening.

Softening by use of a water softener is the simplest concept used today; water softeners replace hardness ions like calcium and magnesium with sodium or non-scaling ions. The ion exchange resin used in the process is recharged periodically with salt drawn from a storage tank. Many water treatment experts agree and Lance Winslow concurs that softening can be most cost effective when the water has as few as one to five grains per gallon of hardness. Most mobile operators will be happy with one to three grains per gallon of hardness and probably won’t even purchase a softening unit until the hardness is five plus grains per gallon. Their theory is well taken because, if the total dissolved solids (TDS) is that low, there will be little water spotting on cars anyway.

One reason to put in a water softener even if your water is 5 gpg or less is because you wish to prevent scaling in the coils of your steam cleaner or save your pressure washing pump on your auto detailing rig. On a cold water machine, this is not as important because 5 gpg or less won’t ruin a pump. More than five can over time.

Hardness also hinders soap from doing its job. You may notice that your soaps are not cleaning properly. That’s because they are cleaning the water first and combining with the compounds in the water rather than the dirt on the car. You see, the hardness in the water has a tendency to neutralize those cleaning compounds and you have to actually use more soap to offset the neutralizing effect of the hardness minerals.

With hard water, you will use more soap and the cars still aren’t clean. I encourage you to talk to your soap vendors for helpful advice on water chemistry and treatment requirements. Your soap strategy should be custom tailored to your city and the hardness of the water you put in your tank.

Most independent auto detailing professionals agree that areas with hard water will also cause a film on cars that are washed when no softener is used. They also agreed at the annual conference that the decision to purchase a softener should be based on a real water test. You might wish to contact a water treatment dealer such as: Rain Soft, Culligan, Apollo, Calgon, Rayne water Systems or the Water Man in your area. They can help you by having the local water tested or ask city water authority for information on their supply. Once your decision is made to purchase a softener, selecting the proper equipment is easy. Softener sizes should be based upon two factors: Flow Rate (GPM) and Grains Per Gallon (GPG).

Flow rate would typically be six to eight gpm (gallons per minute) with your hose at your residence. We recommend you change your pressure regulator to 90-110 PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch). This would give you approximately ten gpm. So you need a water softener that is a little bigger than the basic model.

Water softeners are basically like refrigerators; says Car Wash Guys Founder Lance Winslow;

“They could last two years or twenty years…and a lot depends on how much goes in and how often it comes out.”

This is why you should monitor softening equipment. You can test the hardness with a testing kit or just pay attention when you’re washing cars. Steel softening tanks last for years. Fiberglass units last well also. Plastic units crack. You may need to change resin every couple of years.

Chances are you will choose to rent softeners for $30 per month and let the exchange company recharge them for you. Be careful when hiring water softener vendors. Ask us for help. You may even be able to trade services for water softening rental plus make money on the account because water softener rental companies have lots of delivery trucks. In any case think on these issues when considering a water softening strategy for your mobile car wash or auto detailing business.

Mobile Auto Detailing Public Relations and Promotional Events

Many times small business mobile auto detailing companies fall short in their promotions and public relations. Generally one could attribute this to the fact that business is always good and cars in the United States are quite plentiful, even more than people. In fact there are 1.2 cars for every man, woman and child in this country, including all the school buses, postal jeeps, delivery vans and police cars. Think about it; all the boats, motorcycles, trailers, motor homes, SUVs, mini-vans and cars? Sure there is a lot of business to be had indeed. But certainly since it is a cash business for the most part, there is no reason you cannot run it like a real business and grow it to a large endeavor. Here are some promotional ideas:

Call up a radio station.

Find out when their next event will be. Offer to wash everyone’s car who shows up. Tell them you will even wash the radio station van. They will announce on the radio all week that “Joe’s Mobile detailing and Car Wash” are washing cars at location X for free. Show up and bring the whole family.” Yes, you will be working your little rear end off all day, but the referrals and good will and future customers will be enough to add a second or third unit to your little company.

Blood Drive.

Offer to wash anyone’s car that shows up for a blood drive providing it will be a big turn out. Challenge your local car wash and any other competitors to a competition, who can get the most people under 25 to donate blood. ‘Alert the media’ to the event. Use a public official – the mayor, etc. – to judge the contest. Don’t charge customers. Make it a real big event. Go for quality and number of units washed in one hour or in thirty minutes. Even if you lose, it’s great publicity.

Look if you want to win the promotional game, you must think out side the box, so what are you waiting for anyway? Embossment on an invite; please that is ridiculous. Get out there and kick butt.

Skoda Auto: The Story of the Ugly Duckling

It is no secret that the Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Skoda Auto has been in the past – a laughing stock in the automotive world. But things are finally turning around for the automaker and right now it has become a profit producing force for its owner Volkswagen.

The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker is also planning to open up new markets in China, India, and Russia. Skoda Auto was bought by Volkswagen in the year 1991 and become one of the forces behind the latter’s global force. And as part of Europe’s largest automaker, Skoda Auto makes use of quality Volkswagen auto parts for its production like the popular Volkswagen spark plug wires.

Skoda Auto was able to record net profits for the last week of 2006 totaling to 11.06 billion koruna or 392 million euros (515 million dollars). It obtained a 40% increase as compared to its earnings in the previous year.

Skoda Auto’s production also increased by 12.6 percent or 556,347 units with successful deliveries of up 11.7 percent resulting to an overall sales increase of 8.7 percent to 203.7 billion koruna. For this year, Europe’s largest automaker Volkswagen owner of Skoda is expecting for it to produce more than 600,000 cars.

According to Marc-Rene Tonn an analyst from German bank MM Warburg and Co., “Skoda is an extremely profitable part of the Volkswagen Group.” He also stressed that about one in every 10 Volkswagen Group cars are produced in the Czech Republic especially those sold in the year 2005. This was seconded by Stephen Pope, a London-based analyst with financial services group Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, “Volkswagen will rely heavily on Audi and Skoda during this current period.” Since he said that the Europe’s largest automaker is currently struggling with an ageing range of models and it needs new launches to revive it. “The whole new image of Skoda has changed. It is no longer taken as a joke and is now seen as a pure derivative of Volkswagen, but much more reasonably priced.”

Pope also added that this simply shows the remarkable development that Skoda Auto has achieved under the management of Volkswagen for the past 15 years as part of the VW Group. Praises also to Volkswagen for being steadfast in its decision not to scrap the Skoda brand in spite of the not so good image that the brand has in Western Europe (DaimlerChrysler could used some advice from Volkswagen).

The turning of the Skoda into one of Volkswagen’s flagship producer of reasonably priced reliable cars just goes to show the effective management style that Europe’s largest automaker have. And today, Volkswagen is leading Skoda to become its low-cost spearhead into the booming economies of China, India, and Russia without damaging along the way it attempts to target a more prestige market.

Pope also said that “Skoda will be designated as the entry level car with the premium part of the market left for Volkswagen.”

The boss of Skoda Detlef Wittig has announced last week the company’s goal of producing low-cost car for the Asian market, mentioning also that the company plans of opening up markets in India, Russia, and China. The low-cost Fabia and the top-of-the-range Superb are scheduled to be produced for China in partnership with Shanghai Volkswagen. Likewise, launches production of the mid-range Octavia model are set for China this year.

The Czech automaker has already car assembly and production projects in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia, and India. Current models lined up for production includes the mid-range Roomster which will complete the current four model range and the three-door sporty vehicle called the Skoda Joyster which is designed for young buyers.

Most Common Types of Auto Repair

If you own a car, at some point, you are going to have maintenance. While some problems are more severe and not very common, other types of auto repair are far more common. When done periodically, these repairs can keep your vehicle operating for years.

Tires

Driving is hazardous to your vehicle’s tires. Nails, pot holes, and even curbs can cause damage to the rubber, forcing you to have it patched or replaced. If you can have the tire simply patched, it is pretty inexpensive, and most patches can hold until the tread is too worn to continue using. However, if there is no repairing the tire, you could be looking at an expensive replacement, especially if you have to replace multiple tires.

Brakes

One of the most common types of auto repair will be the brake system. Over time, your pads will wear out, causing you to have to replace them. This can happen multiple times during the life of your car. While this is a fairly inexpensive replacement, if the drum or rotor needs to be replaced you could be looking at hundreds of dollars in maintenance costs. If you are having trouble stopping, it is most likely the pads are worn out, as the brake lines rarely need maintenance.

Oil Changes

Another common form of maintenance is having regular oil changes. While you may not see this as auto repair, it does keep your engine from being damaged. Fresh oil, with a new filter, every few thousand miles can make a significant difference in how your engine performs. Without this maintenance, carbon deposits can build up, wearing out your piston rings and even seizing up your engine. The cost to replace those parts and clean the block is far more expensive than the occasional oil change.

Fuel System

If you are someone who prefers to fill up their car only half way and then drive it until the warning light comes on, you may be doing more damage than good. Vehicles that are regularly driven with less than a quarter tank of gas run the risk of having their fuel filters clogged up. Additionally, you should have the injectors cleaned and fuel filter replaced by a professional on a regular basis.

Ignition System

Eventually, your battery will wear out. Most are rated to last seven to ten years depending on the brand of battery you purchase. The price depends on the battery and the length it is supposed to last. You might be able to recharge your old battery for much cheaper. However, it will eventually need to be replaced.

Another part of the ignition system that commonly needs to be replaced is the starter. While it is not the most expensive replacement, it can be more expensive than a simple battery replacement. Usually, if you are having trouble starting your vehicle, it is either the battery or the starter. Your local mechanic can test them and tell you which part needs to be replaced before you are left stranded.

Auto repair is part of owning a car. If you take the time to maintain your vehicle, it will last longer than expected.