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What Should Automotive Shops Look for in a Parts Washer?

Automotive manufacturers and remanufacturers know that washing parts by hand takes time, and it may not achieve the level of clean needed. Trade your manual cleaning process for an automatic parts washer. 

Parts washers save your shop time and resources by cleaning engine heads, transmissions and smaller components. These machines clean car and engine parts covered in grease, rust and grime without taking up your employees’ time. 

What should you look for in an automotive parts washer? What’s the best option for your shop? Keep reading to learn what type of parts washer would be best for your auto shop.

Choosing A Type of Parts Washer: Solvent-Based vs. Aqueous Parts Washers

The first thing to consider when choosing a parts washer is how it cleans. Solvent-based parts washers use chemicals to clean contaminants from parts. Though solvents may achieve the clean you need, they also pose several risks and disadvantages. 

Before choosing a solvent-based washer, consider the following:

  • Disposal costs. Petroleum and chlorinated solvents create toxic waste. You can’t dispose of this waste as you would other materials. You will have to dispose of solvents safely, according to federal and state regulations. The cost of disposal adds up over time.  
  • Employee safety. Solvents are flammable, and they release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Employees exposed to high levels of VOCs can suffer from health problems. Your shop will need to provide employees with proper training and have a toxic management plan in place. 
  • Environmental impact. Solvent-based parts washing generates more emissions, water waste and hazardous waste than aqueous parts washing.  

Aqueous parts washers use water-based solutions that are better for the environment and human health. Here are a few of the benefits of aqueous parts washers: 

  • Easier disposal. Waste from aqueous cleaning is much easier to dispose of since it is less toxic than waste from solvent cleaning. Aqueous cleaning reduces disposal costs. 
  • Better for health. Aqueous solutions are less harmful to the health of your employees. Because they contain little to no VOCs, aqueous cleaning solutions put fewer chemicals into the air, reducing the risk of long-term health problems. 
  • Environmental impact. Aqueous parts washers allow for more freshwater reuse during the cleaning process. Oil skimming or filtering also extends the life of the cleaning solution, allowing you to use the same solution for longer.

Making the Switch: Benefits of Automatic Parts Washers

Should your auto shop make the switch to an automatic parts washer? And should you choose an aqueous one? It’s time to invest in a different system if your employees spend hours each day cleaning automotive parts. 

Reduced Labor

Automatic parts washers reduce labor time and costs. Once employees place the parts in the washer, they can continue with other tasks. A machine lets your shop effectively clean parts without wasting too much time or effort. Parts washing machines also offer a better clean than manual washing. A suitable machine cleans to an exacting standard. 

A Safer Way to Clean 

Manual parts cleaning places employees in direct contact with cleaning solvents. Switching to an automatic parts washer is better for employee safety because it eliminates direct contact. Choosing an aqueous parts washer further reduces the health risks associated with chemicals in common solvents.

Return on Investment

Automatic parts washers pay for themselves over time by increasing employee productivity in other areas and reducing the time it takes to clean parts. With an aqueous parts washer, you’ll also be able to reuse cleaning solutions to maximize your washer’s longevity.

Common Cleaning Techniques 

What may take hours to clean by hand can be washed in minutes with a machine. Parts washers for car and engine parts work in a variety of ways. 

  • High-Pressure Spray. Spray cabinet washers hit parts with pressurized water and cleaning solution. Often, parts will rotate in a basket while being sprayed for optimal cleaning. Spray washing removes heavy soils effectively and works well for grimy transmissions and engine blocks.
  • Immersion Agitation. Some machines immerse parts in a cleaning solution and agitate them to knock debris loose. Automatic parts washers may use rotating or moving baskets to do this.
  • Ultrasonics. Achieve high levels of cleanliness with ultrasonics. Parts are immersed in a cleaning bath while ultrasonic transducers produce sound waves that agitate the liquid and help clean complex parts.

Selecting A Machine: Aqueous Parts Washer Models

Spray cabinet parts washers fit the bill for most automotive shops or service facilities. They provide effective, quick cleaning that reduces lead time and helps shops run smoothly. Jenfab has several spray cabinet models to choose from.

PCS Front Load Parts Washer

Jenfab’s PCS front load spray cabinet washers can be customized for your shop’s needs. PCS washers are available with turntables up to 72” in diameter and can be paired with equipment for oil coalescing systems, oil skimmers, steam heat and more. These models have large swing-out doors for better access and swing-away spray manifolds that work well for cleaning smaller parts. Our PCS systems can also be made from stainless steel. 

Orca Parts Washer

The Orca is a roll-in door model with a small footprint. Its design saves on space and makes it easier to load and unload. The powerful but compact Orca effectively cleans light and heavy-duty jobs, reducing lead time. It features a seven-day programmable timer for heat and oil skimming and makes it easy to dispose of oil.  

You can order the Orca online for lease or purchase.

Top Load Spray Cabinet Parts Washer

The TL top load spray cabinet parts washer offers clear overhead access with a lid similar to a clamshell. Its top-loading design makes this machine perfect for small spaces. Jenfab offers models with turntables up to 72” in diameter and can further customize the system to handle specific sizes and weights. Each machine includes vertical pumps, mechanical door seals and a sprocket drive system. 

Avenger Parts Washer

If you need an affordable, entry-level parts washer, look no further than Jenfab’s Avenger. The Avenger is a compact, top-loading parts washer made to replace sinks and scrub tubs. Of all of our cabinet models, the Avenger has the quickest lead time, making it ideal for automotive service facilities. 

You can lease or order the Avenger online today.

Other Considerations for Your Auto Shop

Changing your processes is a big step. Before you decide on a parts washer, consider what you will clean, what contaminants need to be removed, and how much space you have for new equipment. These factors will help you determine which model to purchase.  

  • What needs to be cleaned? Do you need to clean engine heads or cylinder blocks? Do you work with smaller parts like plugs or bolts? Knowing what you need to clean helps you determine the capabilities you need from a machine.
  • How clean does it need to be? Are you degreasing parts or removing rust and road grime? What’s the standard you want to reach? Your custom chemistry, or cleaning solution, will be determined by the parts and contaminants.
  • How much space do you have? Space is limited in smaller shops. A larger machine could overtake needed workspace. Small parts washers bring powerful cleaning capabilities while fitting into tight areas. Some small parts washers are also mobile. Take Jenfab’s Avenger, for example—you can roll it to different workspaces as necessary.

Are you ready to make the switch for your shop?

Purchase or lease Jenfab’s roll-in door Orca or top-loading Avenger online today. These machines are made for automotive shops that need a powerful clean for less square footage. 

Need a larger, custom machine? Request a quote to take the first step toward a better clean. 

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