Car wash index – Prices in South Africa, UK, US, and Australia compared

An analysis by Daily Investor revealed that getting your car washed in South Africa is significantly cheaper than in most other countries surveyed.

Daily Investor attempted to find a standardised service whose price can be compared between different countries.

The Big Mac index, invented by The Economist in 1986, is a light-hearted guide to see the relative strength and weaknesses of currencies.

A similar index for the services industry, which measures the relative cost of low-skilled labour, is harder to establish.

We decided to use a car wash as it is a universally known and understood service around the world.

We selected similar car wash services – a hand wash of the outside of the car without any trimmings.

A car wash in the USA, including an exterior wash, outside window cleaning and a tyre shine, costs $21.

In the UK, it costs 30 pounds for the same service, washing the full exterior of the car, including a tyre shine.

In South Africa, it costs R80 to get an outside car wash with tyres being cleaned and shined.

When converted to rands, a car wash in the US would cost you R379, and a car wash in the UK would cost R695.

Therefore, the rand has much greater purchasing power than the US and UK when it comes to a car wash.

The greater purchasing power is due to the much lower labour cost in South Africa compared to the US and the UK.

Daily Investor created a small index of car washing prices across various countries covering a wide range of geographies.

Based on the index South Africa has very strong purchasing power compared to most of the world.

Surprisingly, a car wash in South Africa is less expensive than in Zimbabwe and Botswana when converted to rands.

This is most likely due to the Botswana Pula being stronger than the rand at R1.34 per Pula.

Zimbabwe still mostly trades in the US dollar, and therefore, a car wash being 5 US dollars is currently more expensive than an identical R80 car wash in South Africa.

The cheapest car washes on the list are in India, costing R65 and Thailand, costing R46 for the same service.

Car wash prices around the world

Country Car wash price in ZAR
United Kingdom R684.93
Netherlands R592.51
Belgium R590.53
Sweden R505.19
Russia R431.42
New Zealand R397.66
Spain R395.00
United States R373.92
Poland R310.72
Chile R300.72
Australia R299.89
Portugal R296.25
Canada R229.70
Egypt R142.44
Nigeria R136.80
Zimbabwe R89.03
South Africa R80.00
Colombia R80.00
India R65.00
Thailand R46.00


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