Erasing car wash phobia one guest at a time

Most fears or phobias are easily understood.  

In our line of work, we’ve heard that some drivers avoid visiting us because of a fear of car washes, often triggered by claustrophobia (a fear of confined or small spaces). Surprisingly, about 12.5% of the population has claustrophobia. 

Why are people scared of car washes? 

Car washes of the past can be triggering. They were made in a different era, with old methods. 

Line your tire up just right. Drive into a dark, dingy, black hole of a building. Cement cinderblock design. Low ceilings. No windows. A chain-and-roller system that locks your wheel into the track.  

Being stuck inside the wash, with loud noises and a dark environment is not ideal. Especially if you deal with claustrophobia. 

And car washes weren’t initially designed for customers to enjoy going through them. They were often a side function of auto body shops, made convenient for owners. 

That was the challenge the team at Tommy’s Express wanted to tackle when they designed a totally different car wash – one that was more focused on the guest experience. 

Handling claustrophobia in car washes 

Tommy’s Express buildings are intentionally designed to be bright, open, and friendly. 

The design includes end-to-end windows, an acrylic roof, an exceptionally wide and open car wash bay, a dual belt conveyor, and extra-wide car wash arches.  

Our windows and roof flood the building with natural light.  

Because of all the light, guests feel like they have more space, reducing that claustrophobic feeling. The smoother dual belt ride eliminates the constant ‘bumping’ from the old-style rail system, so no one feels like their vehicle is locked in place. 

We encourage all guests to ask for help at any time.  

If you have claustrophobia or anxiety around car washes, please ask at the window for assistance and a team member will gladly work with you.

Tommy’s Express Car Wash