Today’s car washing trend is about to hit a boiling point.
A wave of lawsuits is already surfacing against car wash operators, and the issue is growing in significance, experts say.
The trend is not limited to the U.S. car washing industry.
In Europe, where car washing is considered a luxury service, the industry is in crisis.
According to an annual survey by the German newspaper Bild, more than 80 percent of German car wash owners are considering suing the owners of their businesses, and car washing services are experiencing significant losses.
The average loss per car wash was nearly $600,000 last year.
The car washing boom began in the U and Canada, but it’s now spreading throughout Europe, according to an article in the German publication Der Spiegel.
“Car washing is not a business model that people want to continue, especially in Germany,” said Matthias Hübner, head of marketing at the European Car Wash Association, which represents the industry.
Hübter also said the industry has become increasingly competitive, with smaller car dealerships and car-sharing services taking over.
“It’s the car-shelter industry in Europe, it’s a model that has been around for a long time,” he said.
“But it’s becoming more and more difficult.”
Hübrner added that the growing competition from car-share services has prompted many car-washing companies to cut back on the quality of their services.
He noted that the cost of cleaning a vehicle is usually about the same as cleaning an ordinary garage, and that the average cleaning costs for car wash services have risen dramatically.
Car washing companies in the United States are also seeing a slowdown.
According, the number of car-wash operators in the state of Ohio dropped by nearly one-third in 2016, and by 13 percent in 2017, according the National Association of Car Wash Operators.
Car wash operators in Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas have also seen a drop in business.
Hippo’s Car Wash in Illinois said it saw an increase in car washing accidents and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017.
Car wash operator Kwik Car Wash also closed its business after more than two decades of service.
Car-skewing experts say the rising popularity of car washing in the US has resulted in a surge in lawsuits.
Car washing has become the preferred way to clean cars in the wake of the oil crisis, and consumers are demanding clean, safe, and reliable services, according Mark Sadowski, a professor of business and economics at the University of Florida.
Sadowski said car washing and other car services have become a “high-risk, high-reward” business for car owners.
“People feel they are being ripped off by the car wash industry, but there is no evidence that the car washing companies are making money from that,” Sadowskin said.
Sadowks analysis of lawsuits from 2016 found that about $1.2 billion was owed by consumers and business owners who had car-shopping services in 2016.
That is more than three times the amount owed by the average U.s. car owner, according, according To The Post.
In the last two years, more lawsuits have been filed against car-care businesses in the states of Florida, Texas, and New Jersey.
A spokesperson for the Florida Attorney General’s Office told ABC News the office has been investigating car-dealing businesses and will investigate any allegations of wrongdoing.
According to the Associated Press, about 5.7 million people in the country have been sued for car-related damage or lost income since the start of the recession in 2009.
According the AP, the average amount owed per lawsuit in 2016 was $1,700, and about half of that was in Florida, according The New York Times.
“The number of claims filed has been steadily increasing, particularly after the economic downturn,” a spokesperson for Florida Attorney Generals office told ABC news.
“We will take any legal action necessary to protect consumers and businesses, including lawsuits brought by injured customers and businesses that may have been the victims of fraud.”ABC News’ Amy B Wang contributed to this report.