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Commonly Asked Questions When Switching to Tokens

January 13, 2023
car wash token compilation

We hear the same thing from car wash operators year after year, “I know I need to switch from quarters to tokens”. And once they make the switch, they can’t believe they waited. Operators have known the benefits of custom car wash tokens for years [reduced vandalism & employee theft, increased per cap spend, plus pricing flexibility].

So what’s holding other self service carwash owners and operators back? Many are so busy with day-to-day business they don’t have the bandwidth to do the research, and some of it is fear: fear of the unknown, will my customers accept it, will I lose money, how much time it will take etc. Here we address the most common questions/concerns and provide answers.

Question #1 - Do I need new coin acceptors?

Probably not.  Most car washes these days have easily adjustable acceptors.  Adding or switching to tokens can be as simple as replacing the quarter (reference coin) with a token in your acceptor or it may require a procedure to "teach" the acceptor a new token.


If you're going to accept quarters AND custom car wash tokens you'll need a multiple coin acceptor - most are.  If you are not sure your coin acceptor will take both, we suggest checking with the manufacturer.

Helpful Tip - you may also need to adjust the coin entry slot to accept a larger diameter or thicker token than what you currently accept. 

Question #2 - What about my bill changer?

You probably don't need new coin acceptors to switch from quarters to tokens; it just requires an adjustment or a small procedure.  Luckily, you probably do not need a new changer either!  The switch is straightforward and you get the benefits of tokens: security, fewer break-ins and reduced vandalism. 

If you're switching from US quarters to quarter tokens (0.900" or 0.984" diameter) or from a golden dollar to a dollar token (1.073"), more than likely you don't need to do anything at all, just empty the hopper and pour in tokens.  

If you are changing from a 25 cent coin value to a $1 value, the number of custom car wash tokens dispensed has to be adjusted.  Instead of dispensing 4 coins per dollar, your changer needs to dispense 1 token per dollar.  Most changers have this capability built in already. For specifics, call your changer's customer service department.   

Helpful tip - put up signage and stickers to let your customers know about the change to tokens.  Car wash operators have found that patrons understand the switch as long as they are aware a change has been made.

Question #3 - Will I need new counters?

Manufacturers like Klopp CoinScancoinCummins and Lynde-Ordway make counters that can easily convert from quarters to dollar coins or tokens. If you're going to accept tokens and quarters or dollar coins, you need a sorter that can separate them.  These same companies make sorters too - some counters are already set up to sort.


Question #4 – How do I choose the best tokens for my carwash?

Do a quick review of the coin-operated businesses in the area - laundromats, arcades etc.  You need to make sure your tokens are a different diameter and material, especially if those tokens are selling for a lower price! 

We can determine the size and material if you send us a sample. 
Once you know what tokens NOT to use, we can discuss what custom car wash tokens would be best for YOUR business.  There are several considerations:

  • Stock Tokens – order as few as 1,000 and they ship in 1-2 business days
  • Custom Tokens – offer branding and marketing opportunities
  • Color/Material – red brass is a good option for visually separating the coinage if you accept quarters and tokens
  • Size – tokens and quarters (or $1 coins) need to be similarly sized if you’ll continue to accept both
  • Quantity – how many tokens you need to get started


Question #5 – What about high value tokens?

If you’ve considered switching to custom car wash tokens, the next thought may have been about going to a higher value. There are many benefits to purchasing “exclusive use” high security tokens if you do.

First, why go to a higher value? It reduces the number of tokens a customer has to use to complete a wash cycle, making them happier. You save time and money by emptying coin boxes less often and reducing the number of tokens in inventory.    

For increased values, high security tokens give added loss protection against slugs or arcade tokens, which becomes increasingly important as values go up. 

Osborne Coinage’s (parent company of TokensDirect) Van Brook of Lexington division offers two groups of electronic tokens; each with unique electronic signatures recognized in today’s sophisticated coin acceptors. The most popular mechs for self service carwashes were extensively tested to ensure compatibility and the rejection of “foreign” tokens.  

High security CTX™ Tokens are made from special alloys not commonly found in coins or tokens. Each has a unique electronic signature so coin mechs can distinguish them from other tokens. We recommend CTX tokens for values of 50¢ or more.

Ultra-high security CT™ Tokens are our most sophisticated tokens and are used for values up to $14. They combine two different metals to produce a unique and highly reliable electronic signature and are easily identified by their 2-color appearance.

Both CT and CTX tokens come with an “exclusive use” license.  This means we provide them exclusively to you and will not sell the same tokens to another business within a 75 mile radius, as long as you continue to order tokens on a regular basis.


Question #5 – Are there any other, less expensive, security tokens?

TokensDirect and Van Brook offer a third high security option called “Time Saver Tokens™”. Time Saver Tokens are used solely for a $1 vend price. They are copper colored and made from a unique metal not seen in coins or tokens. They stand our visually and are easily recognized by most coin acceptors. These tokens are perfect if you don’t want to accept video or other low value tokens. 

They always sell for $1 and you can tell if someone is cheating because we require that all Time Saver tokens be customized with the business name and address.  

Time Save Tokens are available in three sizes: 0.900”, 0.984” and 1.073”. Sorting is easy because of the token’s distinctive copper color and most commercial coin counters easily count them.


Question #6 – How do I handle my vacuums if I switch to tokens?

If you’re convinced that switching to custom car wash tokens is the right idea, but you haven't thought about your vacs, you're missing out on potentially $1,500 extra on the bottom line, PER MONTH. 

That’s how much one car wash owner added to his bottom line every month when he started offering a free vacuum token worth 4 minutes of time to patrons who bought a car wash.

The result? Customers used their token to start vacuuming and when the free time expired, they put in quarters to finish the job. The operator estimated his vac boxes contained 30% tokens and 70% quarters. That’s quite an additional bit of revenue generated by a “free” vacuum. To read the full story, click here.  

Choose the right size:

When vac tokens are used in conjunction with wash tokens, we recommend choosing different sizes (and possibly different materials), making them easy to sort and to avoid cross acceptance. 

We stocks vacuum tokens in the two most common sizes, 0.900” and 0.984”, which are compatible with existing changers and coin mechanisms. Stock vacuum tokens are available through Click here to purchase them right now and they will ship in 1-2 business days. 


Last but not least - Mat Cleaner Tokens 

Mat cleaning tokens offer another revenue stream to car wash owners. Similar to vac tokens, they can be offered as an "add on" when a customer upgrades a wash or sold in bulk. Either way using tokens instead of quarters makes sense from a security and financial perspective. Thieves don't steal tokens!


In Summary

A change to tokens is nothing to be afraid of - it's easy to take advantage of all the benefits of custom car wash tokens including:

  • Cash Control
  • Reduced Theft
  • Reduced Workload
  • 22% higher per cap spend by customers (according to a Professional Carwashing & Detailing survey)

Most car wash owners who had misgivings about moving to tokens have found that their fears were unfounded and wish they had done it sooner!

Take advantage of our FREE Token Conversion Kit. It contains everything you need to get started, including token samples.



New press releases highlighting token uses are added all the time. Please continue to check back for the latest white papers. If you'd like to speak with a sales specialist, call