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Mobile Detailing Equipment

Your mobile detailing truck and trailer along with your mobile detailing equipment is referred to as your “Mobile Rig” or simply a “Rig”.

The mobile rig is the single most important part of the mobile detailing business. If you don’t have the equipment to get the job done, then you can’t do the work.

So naturally, mobile detailing equipment is going to be a subject that you focus on frequently if you are offering these services.

Some mobile detailing equipment companies promote the open trailers with the water buffalo, pressure washer and other equipment out in the open.

If you live anywhere cold or near any areas that aren’t exactly secure, then this will end up being a real pain for you.

In the cold weather, open trailers need anti-freeze dumped into the water supply and the pressure washer needs anti-freeze in all the plumbing just to keep from freezing. If you park your truck somewhere in a city or near a construction site the chances of something turning up missing when you get back are very high.

When we first added mobile detailing equipment to our detail shop business as an add-on service, we went the open trailer route because of the cost savings and we already had a pickup truck and a box-type mini-van that were both large enough to pull the trailer with water.

Closed trailers are another option for this type of work, but not the best choice.  You still have to drag a trailer around with you everywhere you go.

Try backing up a closed trailer in a parking garage without hitting anything. The only nice feature about the close trailer is if you use your pickup truck for personal business then you simply unhitched from the trailer and go. In the overall big picture a closed trailer is a good choice, but the best one. Your mobile detailing equipment will be enclosed and protected and it is easier to keep everything from freezing in the winter this way, but you still have the other issues I’ve mentioned above.

By far the best choice for hauling mobile detailing equipment and making the perfect mobile rig is a cargo van.  Preferably a 1-ton cargo van.  Our shop really loved the 1 Ton Chevy Express Cargo Van.  It was large enough to haul everything and had the power we needed to haul the ever-important water buffalo.  A measurement that will become very important to you when you start mobile detailing and cleaning is 8.34 lbs per gallon.  That is the weight of a gallon of water.  So when you are shopping around for mobile detailing equipment and you add your water buffalo, you need to keep this figure in mind.  It is very easy to exceed your max weight capacity on your 1 Ton Cargo Van if you aren’t careful.  Here are some things to consider when thinking about weight issues with your Mobile Detailing Equipment:

Mobile Detailing Equipment Weight Capacity Issues and Ways To Calculate

When it comes to mobile detailing equipment, weight is something that you worry about every day.  If you are adding a 200-gallon water buffalo, then you need to figure that weight when full which would be 200 gals multiplied by 8.34 lbs per gallon for a total weight of 1,668 lbs.

The water buffalo itself doesn’t weigh much, but for easy math let’s figure about 32 lbs for the actual water buffalo to set our total water weight at 1,700 lbs.

One ton equals 2,000 lbs, but this is not your safe hauling weight.  That would be a newbie mistake to just take 2,000 lbs and subtract your mobile detailing equipment and water weight from that.

What you need is the GVWR from the door jamb of the cargo van, truck or whatever you are using to haul EVERYTHING.  GVWR is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. The thing about the figures from the manufacturer is that they are figuring on an empty van. So according to Chevy here’s how they calculate maximum hauling capacity:

8,600 GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)

5,291 Subtract Curb Weight also referred to as GVCW (Gross Vehicle Curb Weight) – be careful here though, this doesn’t include you or anything else but the empty van

3,309 Max Payload Capacity – According to Chevy this is what you should be able to haul safely.

A more accurate calculation includes you, your equipment and your water weight, then add that to the GVCW (Gross Vehicle Curb Weight) and that will give you the real number.  As long as you don’t exceed the GVWR number, then you are within your safe hauling capacity.

Another way to do this is trying to stay within these numbers and then call a nearby weigh station and ask if it is possible to take your fully-loaded vehicle to their weigh station to check it and make sure it is within safe hauling weight.

We did this with all of our vehicles and made sure the driver and the one or two additional workers that were on that job were included in the trucks when they were weighed.

The officers at the weigh station were more than happy to help with this and the supervisor at the station that I brought our trucks to each year complimented me on being proactive with my vehicle safety program.

We never ran into any issues on the road, but I’m sure developing a relationship with these state officers would have helped us prove that we were proactive in our safety and maintenance program if we ever had any problems while out in the field.

Another consideration when looking at Cargo Vans to haul your mobile detailing equipment is simple things like being able to lock your equipment inside.

If you park your van in your driveway when you’re at home during the winter you can run an extension cord to the van from your garage and plug-in a small electric heater to keep everything from freezing.

Plus, and this is a very big plus if you have ever returned home after doing a ton of fleet cars you know how tired you are. Imagine how excited you’ll be to have to unload the entire pickup truck or open trailer when you’re that tired.

With vans, you don’t have to do any of that. Vans work great. Plus, if you go to lunch on the worksite, simply throw everything inside the van and lock it up.

There’s a “ton” of different mobile detailing equipment you can get for your mobile rig.

Right off the bat, you’ll be excited to get everything you can afford, but don’t waste money at this point. You need all the operating capital you can get.

Your first mobile detailing equipment purchases should include the following:

  • 2000 PSI Pressure Washer
  • Hose – 3/4″ industrial garden hose – 100′
  • Hose reel with 3/8″ high-pressure hose – 100′
  • High-speed buffer – Makita 9227C, the most reliable and lightest
  • High-speed orbital buffer – Porter Cable 7424 is the best
  • Generator – at least 5,000 watts

That’s a good start to your mobile detailing equipment needs. Please check back and I’ll be updating this page with more specifics as to smaller things you need to carry with you to job sites to get work completed faster.

Good luck with your Mobile Detailing Equipment setup and we look forward to hearing about your success on our Auto Detailing Guide Community Forum page.