Forget about the two-bucket wash method! The best pressure washer for cars can save you time, energy, and money on your wash jobs.
Like washing your car but hate doing it with a bucket of soapy water and soft wash mitts? The right pressure washer, if used properly, will let you get a more thorough cleaning and remove the toughest stains in less time and for less money.
Want to find the best car pressure washer for your auto detailing? Just read our pressure washer reviews and comprehensive buying guide. Here is a quick rundown of our top picks:
|Top Top Top Top Top Top||Sun Joe SPX3000-SJB 2030 Max Psi 1.76 Gpm 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer, Blue||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top Top Top Top||Greenworks 1500 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer GPW1501||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top Top Top||Karcher K5 Premium Electric Power Pressure Washer, 2000 PSI, 1.4 GPM||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top Top||Briggs & Stratton 020681 2000 PSI, 1.2Gpm Electric Pressure Washer, 2000 PSI, 1.2 GPM||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||Champion 3200-PSI 2.4-GPM Dolly-Style Gas Pressure Washer||Prime||Buy Now|
Best Pressure Washer For Cars Reviews
For the criteria we used to come up with these top picks, head to the buyer’s guide section of this article. Otherwise, keep reading for what each pressure washer is all about.
1. Sun Joe SPX3000 Pressure Washer
Our number one pick, the Sun Joe SPX3000, is an affordable pressure washer that masterfully handles any light or medium-duty cleaning job you throw at it.
This model delivers up to 2,030 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure at a steady 1.76 gallons per minute (GPM) of water flow, making it well-suited for light-, medium-, and some heavy-duty applications.
Sun Joe’s pressure washer also features a pair of 0.9-liter (30-ounce) detergent tanks that spare you the trouble of having to manually apply detergent to the surface you’re cleaning, as well as a set of rear wheels that facilitates mobility.
You get five spray tips to work with, all of which use ‘Quick-Connect’ technology to make switching between them very easy. A nifty Total Stop System (TSS) safety feature shuts off the pump automatically once your finger is off the trigger.
This electric pressure washer has everything you need to properly clean your car; however, some units come with a defective hose connector that leaks, and prolonged use may cause the nozzle to rust.
Fortunately, you get a two-year warranty for added peace of mind in case something goes wrong with your machine.
Things We Like
- Powerful motor delivers enough water pressure for light-, medium, and heavy-duty cleaning
- Long 35-feet electric cord and 20-feet hose for better reach
- Dual detergent tanks make applying soap easier
- Auto shutoff saves water and energy
What We Don’t Like
- Hose connector may leak
- Prolonged use may cause the nozzle to rust
The Sun Joe SPX3000 is an affordable, well-designed, and extremely versatile electric pressure washer with enough power to tackle all manners of cleaning tasks, from giving your car a good wash to cleaning your deck, patio, or driveway. CHECK LATEST PRICE
2. Greenworks GPW1501 Electric Pressure Washer
The Greenworks 1500 PSI is possibly the best budget pressure washer available today. While its 1,500 PSI of pressure makes it unsuitable for heavy-duty tasks, 1,500 PSI is all you will ever need to give your car a proper cleaning and carry out other light- and medium-duty work around the house.
Not only is this electric pressure washer capable of removing dirt, debris, mud, grime, stains, and other unpleasant substances off surfaces, but it’s also very easy to use.
A compact, very lightweight design (it weighs 17.5 lbs. / 8 kg) makes it easy to carry and move around, while the two quick-connect nozzle tips it comes with allow you to quickly and easily change the water concentration and angle. Reach is also good since you get a lengthy 25-foot hose to work with.
Instead of a built-in detergent tank like some competing products come with, you get a soap dispenser that nevertheless makes applying soap less of a chore.
The flipside to the Sun Joe SPX3000’s affordability is that it’s not an all-around performer like our number one pick due largely to its relatively low maximum PSI. Its build quality could also be better, since some parts may start to fall apart after two years of regular use.
Things We Like
- Compact, lightweight design makes it easy to carry and move around
- Soap applicator for easy application of cleaning agents
- Long 25-foot hose for good reach
- Very affordable, great value
What We Don’t Like
- Low power rating makes it less versatile than other washers
- Comes with only two nozzle tips
For very little money, the Greenworks GPW1501 gives you all the power and tools you will ever need to properly clean your car and carry out other light-duty tasks around the house. It is the best car pressure washer in terms of value. CHECK LATEST PRICE
3. Kärcher K5 Premium Electric Pressure Washer
Kärcher is renowned worldwide for its high-pressure cleaners, and its K5 Premium Electric Pressure Washer is an easy pick for our number three best pressure washer for cars. That’s because it comes with everything you need to do a good job, including items normally offered as pressure washer accessories.
For starters, the K5 uses a water-cooled induction motor that delivers 2000 PSI at 1.4 GPM, which is more than you need to wash your vehicle without damaging its paint or breaking any of its exterior trim elements.
The pressurizing system circulates cold water around the motor, keeping operating temperatures as low as possible to prolong its life. Kärcher estimates a lifespan that may be up to five times longer than the motors found in most pressure washers.
As you would expect, there is an onboard detergent tank, as well as several different nozzle tips for adjusting the pressure and angle of the water. A nifty built-in storage area allows you to store various items such as the long, 26-foot hose.
This unit also comes with a 3-in-1 lance that helps you clean up quickly and efficiently. It provides you with dirt blaster, vario, and detergent settings in one place so that you never have to change lances when switching up tasks.
The Kärcher K5 is an excellent electric pressure washer with a 2-year warranty; however, it’s a bit bulky and heavy, and as a premium product, it’s expensive.
Things We Like
- Durable, long-lasting water-cooled motor3-in-1 lance makes cleaning fast and efficient
- Useful onboard storage for storing hose and other items
- Onboard detergent tank plus a free 1-liter bottle of detergent
- 2-year warranty
What We Don’t Like
- Fairly bulky and heavy
- Very expensive
For those looking for a versatile electric pressure washer that offers a great user experience and an incredibly long lifespan, the Karcher K5 won’t disappoint. CHECK LATEST PRICE
4. Briggs & Stratton 020681 Electric Pressure Washer
Here is another pressure washer that will last you a long time. The Briggs & Stratton 020681 combines a heavy-duty build with a maximum water pressure of 2,000 PSI at 1.2 GPM, more power than you could possibly need to clean your car.
A tough, military-grade welded-steel frame makes it exceptionally sturdy, while its durable brushless induction motor runs quietly and provides a steady stream of pressurized water efficiently and reliably. At 20-foot long, the hose is very durable and can withstand prolonged use without damaging or splitting.
This unit also features a built-in detergent tank for easy soap application, comes with four nozzle tips for increasing the water pressure or adjusting the angle at which the water flows, and has a foldable handle that makes storing it in smaller spaces easier.
A common complaint is that there is no place to easily store the hose, which some users have found unravels easily. Also, some of the nozzle tips might not connect properly and may shoot off the hose after activating the washer.
Things We Like
- Very durable, military-grade welded-steel frame
- Quiet operation
- Foldable design makes for easier storage
- Integrated generator tank for easy soap application
What We Don’t Like
- Hose is not easily storable
- Some units have defective nozzle tips
This electric pressure washer from Briggs and Stratton is built to perform and last, offering a high level of durability and reliability and delivering great performance for most cleaning tasks. CHECK LATEST PRICE
5. Champion 3200-PSI Gas Pressure Washer
With a gas engine that produces a maximum water pressure of 3,200 PSI at 2.4 GPM, our fifth choice for the best pressure washer for cars is a particularly powerful model.
Although you should never use more than 2000 PSI to clean your car (1500 PSI is more than good enough), the extra power makes Champion’s gas pressure washer a versatile option for other, more demanding cleaning tasks you might have. It’s very comfortable to use thanks to its ergonomic wand with a trigger that reduces fatigue.
Five different nozzle tips let you modulate the angle at which the water is sprayed, including one that’s specifically designed for rinsing off soap, while a 25-foot hose provides great reach. Dolly-style wheels make moving around easy.
A 4-foot detergent hose and two half-gallon onboard detergent tanks are also part of the package, as well as an onboard storage compartment for storing the hose, trigger gun, and spray wand.
For safety, Champion’s engineers made sure the machine automatically shuts off when it detects low oil levels.
This is another premium pressure washer that commands a high price. Aside from that, bear in mind that all gas-powered pressure washers emit potentially harmful fumes and, therefore, should only be used outdoors. They are also bulkier and heavier than electric washers.
Things We Like
- Great power and performance for light- to heavy-duty cleaning
- Storage compartment for storing hose and other items
- Built-in detergent tank for easy soap application
- 2-year warranty, free lifetime tech support
What We Don’t Like
- Can’t be used in enclosed spaces
- Bulky and heavy
Powerful gas pressure washers like the Champion 3200 PSI model are a great choice for medium- to heavy-duty outdoor cleaning jobs. CHECK LATEST PRICE
6. Ryobi RY141612 Electric Pressure Washer
Our pick for the sixth best car pressure washer, the Ryobi RY141612, is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a small, light, and affordable model that provides sufficient power for most standard household cleaning tasks, including washing a car.
Weighing only 17 pounds (7.71 kg) and measuring just 12.5 inches (31.75 cm) wide, this portable pressure washer is incredibly small and lightweight, allowing it to be moved around easily and stored in very small spaces. You might bulk at its 1600 PSI and 1.2 GPM, but that’s more than enough power to clean a car or other equipment and surfaces around the house.
A 20-foot hose and spray wand are also part of the design, while three nozzle tips, including a turbo nozzle for fast cleaning action, provide more precise usage of the water. However, the absence of a nozzle for removing soap reduces is an unfortunate oversight and the hose could be a bit longer.
It also doesn’t come with a detergent tank or soap applicator for easier cleaning. Fortunately, the manufacturer offers an industry-leading 3-year warranty should your unit become defective.
Things We Like
- Very compact and lightweight design
- Very affordable, good value
- 3-year warranty
What We Don’t Like
- Not designed for heavy-duty tasks
- No detergent tank or soap applicator
- Hose could be longer, no soap nozzle tip
Not only is this Ryobi electric pressure washer smaller, lighter, and cheaper than many of the pressure washers you will come across, but it’s also a solid option for cleaning cars. CHECK LATEST PRICE
7. Generac SpeedWash 3200-PSI Gas Pressure Washer
This gas-powered Generac SpeedWash model is a very powerful pressure washer that can be used for light-duty tasks such as washing a car, as well as for medium- and heavy-duty applications such as cleaning driveways, concrete walls, and large patio and decks.
Its pressurizing system reliably delivers 3200 PSI and 2.7 GPM of pressurized water, which can be easily and precisely controlled by a control system integrated into the ergonomic spray gun handle. The four interchangeable, quick connect nozzle tips that it comes with allow for even more precise control and flexibility.
Carrying around a soap bucket is unnecessary since this pressure washer has a built-in detergent tank. And at 30-feet long, its hose is one of the longest on our list and should make cleaning difficult-to-reach places easier.
A downside of the Generac SpeedWash 3200-PSI Gas Pressure Washer comes with an impressive 3-year warranty, providing some peace of mind in case something happens to your unit. A downside is that it has many plastic parts, some of which can break easily if you’re not careful.
Things We Like
- Great power, performance, and versatility for virtually every cleaning task
- Very long hose provides good reach
- Built-in detergent tank for easy soap application
- 3-year warranty
What We Don’t Like
- Some plastic parts are fragile and don’t secure properly
- Can’t be used in enclosed spaces
The Generac SpeedWash 3200-PSI Gas Pressure Washer is worth a serious look for anyone looking for a washer that can handle virtually any cleaning task. CHECK LATEST PRICE
8. Stanley SHP2150 Electric Pressure Washer
Stanley is a lesser-known brand that makes very capable cleaning tools. It’s best pressure washer for cars, the SHP2150, has three notable highlights: First, it’s affordable; second, its powerful motor is nearly silent under operation; and third, it has a detergent bottle that doubles as a foam cannon, making it easier to remove stubborn stains.
The motor puts out a maximum water pressure of 2,150 PSI at 1.4 GPM, which is enough power for most of the cleaning tasks you will likely ever do, and the detergent bottle can hold almost 1 liter of solution, enough to clean a medium-size car without having to refill.
The hose is 25-feet long for added reach and has professional-grade brass connectors that prevent leaks.
There is also an onboard storage tank for storing accessories such as the four nozzle tips you get, while a telescopic handle that can be pushed in or out and a pair of never-go-flat wheels facilitate movement from place to place.
The Stanley SHP2150 doesn’t have a detergent tank, which some people prefer over a soap cannon. Another downside is that its body and wheels are made from plastic and can crack easily if not handled properly.
Things We Like
- Powerful, noise-free motor
- Storage compartment for storing nozzles and other items
- Detergent bottle doubles as a foam cannon
What We Don’t Like
- Doesn’t have a built-in detergent tank
- Plastic body and wheels may crack if mishandled
The Stanley SHP2150 Electric Pressure Washer is a great value, offering solid performance and versatility for an affordable price. CHECK LATEST PRICE
9. Karcher K1700 Electric Power Pressure Washer
The Karcher K1700 is a solid medium-range electric power pressure washer that, as its name suggests, produces 1,700 PSI of water pressure.
This unit is built around convenience. It has two big wheels for easy transporting; a removable bucket that also serves as a storage area for its 20-foot hose, nozzles, and other accessories; a removable half-gallon detergent tank; and a foot-operated on/off switch.
You also get three very useful nozzles, namely an all-purpose one for focused spraying, one that shoots water at 15-degrees, and one for applying soap.
Finally, while many brands give you a measly one-year warranty, Karcher backs up the K1700 with a limited three-year warranty. Areas of concern are potential nozzle leakage and the soap dispenser possibly malfunctioning over time.
Things We Like
- Removable bucket doubles as a storage area
- Half-gallon detergent tank
- Foot-operated on/off switch
- 3-year warranty
What We Don’t Like
- Nozzles may leak
- Soap dispenser may malfunction over time.
If you find the Kärcher K5 premium electric pressure washer too overladen with features and too cost-prohibitive, the K1700 will give you a lot of the performance for less than half the price. CHECK LATEST PRICE
10. AR Blue Clean 2000 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
Our final pick is the AR Blue Clean 2000 PSI Electric Pressure Washer, a lightweight model that produces 2000 PSI at 1.4 GPM.
Its 35-foot power cord and 30-foot hose are so long that you shouldn’t have problems getting the unit to your vehicle, while its large, 1.3-liter (45-ounce) detergent tank holds enough soap to clean a medium or even large-size car without having to refill.
Four different Quick Change nozzles, including one for removing soap, allow you to adjust the width and angle at which the water is sprayed.
The AR Blue Clean will get the job done; however, there are few areas of concern. First, the unit is tippy, and the slightest tug can send it falling over. And second, the hose is made from a hard plastic that kinks easily, and the hose reel can be difficult to use.
Things We Like
- Reliable water delivery
- Compact, lightweight design
- Very long cable and hose
- Large onboard detergent tank
What We Don’t Like
- Prone to falling over
- Hose kinks easily
- Hose reel may be hard to use
Annovi Reverberi (AR) is a lesser-known brand on the world stage, but the Blue Clean electric pressure washer has everything you need to clean your car effectively, efficiently, and safely. CHECK LATEST PRICE
Pressure Washer Buying Guide
Our expertly researched buying guide will provide you with everything you need to know about pressure washers so that you have the knowledge and confidence to find the best pressure washer for cars.
What Is A Pressure Washer
A pressure washer is a popular household tool that sprays a narrow stream of pressurized water to remove built-up dirt, mud, grime, mold, loose paint, and other undesired substances from the surface of vehicles, buildings, and other structures, and large equipment.
Pressure washers are intended to be used on hard surfaces only, as the highly-pressurized water they release can easily damage soft or delicate surfaces.
How Do Pressure Washers Work?
Think of a pressure washer as a garden hose attached to an air compressor. Most models use either an electric motor or a gas engine to power a pump that accelerates and pressurizes the water, passing it through a hose that’s connected at the tip to a water gun similar to the ones used at car washes.
When the trigger of the water gun is pulled, the water mixes with the air and shoots out of the nozzle at a high speed, with enough kinetic energy to knock dirt, debris, grime, and other unwanted substances off hard surfaces.
Pressure Washer Vs. Power Washers – What’s The Difference?
The terms pressure washing and power washing are often used interchangeably, which is understandable since both use pressurized water to clean hard surfaces. But although pressure washers and power washers have the same fundamental design, there is one key element that sets them apart: heat.
Unlike pressure washers, power washers heat the water for added cleaning power. The heat helps loosen up dirt and grime and kills mold and algae, making power washing better at removing stubborn substances than pressure washing.
While not as effective as power washing, pressure washing still does an amazing job cleaning. The fact that it’s less harsh on surfaces is what makes it the ideal method for household jobs, such as giving a patio or vehicle a quick clean.
Power washing is best suited for heavy-duty tasks such as cleaning large commercial spaces or extra big patios and driveways. The force of pressurized hot water can do damage to delicate surfaces, so you’d be wise to stick with hard surfaces such as concrete.
Benefits Of Pressure Washers
Pressure washing can be a far more efficient and effective method of cleaning a car than using the two-bucket wash method or a garden hose. If you need convincing, here are five benefits of using a pressure washer to clean a car.
1. More Thorough Cleaning
The main purpose of cleaning your car is to remove dirt, debris, and other substances that can damage its paintwork and other key components. Unfortunately, these unwanted substances usually make their way to hard-to-reach areas that can’t be easily cleaned with the two-bucket method or a hose, places such as the wheel wells and between the body panels.
Because the best pressure washers give you different water pressure settings to work with, all it usually takes to remove those stubborn substances is to choose the appropriate pressure setting and aim at the problematic area. There is far less need to strain your hands or any other body part to get the job done.
2. Clean Tough Stains
Pressure washing is far more effective at removing stubborn debris, grime, stains, and what have you than conventional cleaning methods.
The narrow, high-pressure jet of water that a pressure washer shoots out is often strong enough to break down and lift the toughest of build-ups without having to scrub or scrape the surface.
3. Saves Time
Conventional cleaning methods such as the two-bucket wash method require a lot of time and effort. With pressure washing, you don’t have to painstakingly scrub or scrape a particular area to remove stubborn substances.
The best car pressure washers are easy to set up, and it takes no more than 10 minutes on average for most people to clean their car on low pressure. Conventional cleaning methods can take well over an hour.
4. Save Money
Using a quality pressure washer will save you money in more ways than one. First, you save money on water since pressure washing requires less water than using a hose or the two-bucket wash method.
Second, pressure washing eliminates many of the tools required by conventional washing methods such a foam sponge or wash mitt, buckets, and even car wash soap in some instances. Many pressure washers even come with a foam spray attachment or built-in foamer so that you don’t have to buy a separate foam applicator.
Finally, time is money. By cutting your cleaning time from 1 hour to 30 minutes or less, pressure washing gives you more time to spend on other important things, such as projects that increase your net worth.
Unlike the two-bucket wash method and other conventional methods of cleaning a car, pressure washing doesn’t require the use of harsh chemicals. The best pressure washer for cars will dispense water at a high enough velocity and power to knock loose the stubbornest stains and grime.
Having less of a need for detergents bolds well for the environment.
Types Of Pressures
Pressure washers are mainly classified by the power source they use. Models equipped with an electric motor and gas or diesel engines are the most common.
These are the most common type of pressure washers. Electric pressure washers require electricity to operate and therefore need to be plugged into an electric outlet or power generator at all times.
The absence of a built-in fuel tank gives them a lighter, more compact design than other types of pressure washers, making them particularly well suited for light and medium-duty domestic work such as washing driveway, decks, or patios.
However, electric pressure washers can’t be used in remote areas and on most construction sites due to their dependence on an electric generator or outlet.
Gas-powered pressure washers are generally bigger, tougher, and more powerful than their electric counterparts and are well-suited for medium- to heavy-duty applications. Their design incorporates a gas tank and combustion engine that allows them to be used in places where electricity is not available, such as on construction sites and in remote areas.
A downside of these pressure washers is that their onboard gas tank and engine makes them bulky and cumbersome to carry around. They are also louder than electric pressure washers and produce fumes (namely CO2) that render them unsuitable for indoor use.
Aside from using diesel as fuel, diesel-engine pressure washers are essentially the same as their gas-powered counterparts in terms of design and capabilities. That’s to say they are rugged and powerful and can be used in areas where there is no electricity.
However, they are bulky, loud, and generate fumes that make them unsuitable for indoor use.
Hydraulic pressure washers are the least common type of pressure washer and are mostly seen in farming and other agricultural sectors. Their use of a hydraulic system to generate energy means they don’t need electricity or fuel to function, allowing them to function just about anywhere.
Hydraulic pressure washers are also compact, lightweight, and quiet, qualities that make them suitable for commercial use.
Pressure Washer Power Levels
A key deciding factor when choosing a pressure washer is power, which is typically measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Think of PSI as the force with which water is sprayed out.
Also important is the gallons per minute (GPM), a unit of measure for the volume of water that’s released. Let’s look at PSI and GPM from the perspective of a pressure washer’s functional capacity.
Light-duty pressure washers deliver anywhere from 1300 to 2000 PSI, with a rating of 2 GPM at most (a garden hose, by comparison, has an output of only 40 PSI). They are ideal for most home applications, such as cleaning decks, small patios, backyard equipment, and commercial vehicles.
When it comes to cleaning cars, trucks, and motorcycles, you won’t need more than 1500 PSI to be effective. In fact, 2000 PSI is the cut-off point, as higher pressures can damage the vehicle’s paintwork and trim elements.
Most pressure washers for cars fall into this category.
Designed to put out 2000 to 3000 PSI and 2 to 3 GPM, medium-duty pressure washers have the power for more aggressive cleaning and demanding tasks such as cleaning gutters, grates, large decks and patios, driveways, garage floors, and larger, more robust vehicles.
This category is mostly comprised of gas- and diesel-powered pressure washers.
These pressure washers are designed to tackle the toughest jobs. With a 3000 to over 7000 PSI to work with, they are commonly used to remove grime, stains, paint chips, graffiti, and rust from surfaces for paint prepping, as well for cleaning construction and farm equipment.
Some models are so powerful that they can spray water two-stories high to reach hard-to-reach places.
Note: You don’t need to purchase a separate pressure washer for each level of application since most models allow you to adjust the pressure level of the water.
Top Pressure Washer Brands
While there is no single best pressure washer brand, Karcher, Generac, Simpson, Ryobi, and Greenworks are five of the most popular names.
Based in Germany, Karcher is a leader in cleaning technology, manufacturing world-class cleaning tools that include floor care equipment, wash water treatment, window vacuum cleaners, and military decontamination equipment. The Kärcher K5 Premium Electric Pressure Washer is one of our top recommendations.
Founded in 1959, Generac specializes mostly in electric generators and is credited with making the first affordable home standby generators. The company has expanded its product range to now include a full line of quality power washers and water pumps, including the highly-praised Generac SpeedWash Gas Pressure Washer.
Simpson is a pressure washer brand that offered its first pressure washer in 1961. It has grown quickly over the decades to become one of the most trusted names in the market, providing quality, reliability, and performance with all the products it sells. The Simpson MegaShot is widely regarded as one of the best gas pressure washers.
Ryobi is a Japanese brand licensed by Techtronic Industries of Hong Kong to produce a range of commercial power tools and outdoor products. Catering to millions of homeowners all around the world, Ryobi is particularly well-known for the RY141612 Electric Pressure Washer.
Greenworks prides itself on being a leader in battery-powered outdoor power tools for DIY-consumers and landscaping professionals. As a global manufacturing company, it has a presence in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, delivering high-quality products such as the very popular Greenworks GPW1501 Electric Pressure Washer.
Features Of The Best Pressure Washer For Cars
Now that you know what pressure washers are, how they work, and the different types that are available, you should be in a better position to find a good car pressure washer for your cleaning needs. Let’s go over the important things you need to consider.
What will you be using the pressure washer for? Is it just for cleaning your car or will you be using it for other tasks? There is no point in buying any pressure washer if it does a poor job serving its intended purpose.
A light-duty pressure washer with up to 2000 PSI will suffice if all you plan to do with it is wash your car. However, like most people, you will likely also use it for other tasks such as cleaning your deck and porch, driveway, or pool. In that case, consider getting a medium-duty model that lets you adjust the PSI for each particular task.
Another important consideration is where you will be using the pressure washer. For instance, if you plan to work in an area where there is no electricity, a gas, diesel, or hydraulic model will be your best choice.
If, on the other hand, you intend to work indoors or around people, an electric pressure will be the way to go. Gas and diesel models emit fumes and tend to be noticeably louder, characteristics that can be a source of arguments with sensitive people.
Also, make sure that the pressure washer you go with comes with sufficiently long cords and, if you need to carry it over long distances, has wheels for easier mobility.
What power source is available to you? Electric pressures require an electric outlet to generate power, while gas, diesel, and hydraulic models have built-in power sources that allow them to be used anywhere, from urban environments to remote wilderness.
Even so, electric motors are ideal for car pressure washers since they deliver around 2,000 PSI (the ideal pressure for washing a car) and almost every home and auto shop has an electric outlet.
Gas and diesel pressure washers produce higher PSI and are better suited for car detailing tasks involving the removal of old paint from a car. Because they emit fumes, they should only be used outdoors.
PSI And GPM
As with grease guns, pounds per square inch (PSI) is the main unit of measurement that pressure washers are marketed with. It indicates how powerful the machine is, so the higher the PSI, the more water pressure you can expect.
More PSI doesn’t always mean better results. We can’t stress enough that for washing a car, 1500 and 2000 PSI is the ideal range, as you risk damaging your car’s paint with anything higher than 2000 PSI.
“Gallons per minute” (GPM) is another unit of measurement you should consider, as it tells you how much water a pressure washer uses.
Compared to your garden variety hose, which uses anywhere from 9 to 17 gallons per minute, pressure and power washers are designed to use water more efficiently. Expect a 2000 PSI model to use anywhere from 1.3 to 1.8 GPM.
You will need more than just water to effectively clean a car. Whereas traditional car washing involves manually getting the car wet, applying soap, and then rinsing, pressure washing allows you to accomplish all three steps at the press of a button.
That’s because the best pressure washers for cars usually come with either a detergent tank or a soap dispenser, combining water and soap into one stream to allow you to wet, wash, and rinse the car at once.
A detergent tank is built into the body of the washer, while soap or foam dispensers are accessory components that are attached to the hose.
Although soap dispensers typically hold less liquid than detergent tanks, you should be able to wash an average-size car without having to refill. It’s also possible to equip a pressure washer that has a detergent tank with one.
The size and shape of the nozzle greatly affect the amount and pressure of the water that’s sprayed out. This is an important consideration since you will have times when a narrow spray is needed for light cleaning jobs and others (removing tough stains, etc.) when only a powerful spray will suffice.
Pressure washers that feature adjustable nozzles give you the flexibility to change the width and concentration of the spray as required by the cleaning task.
How To Use A Pressure Washer To Clean Your Car
A pressure washer can be an effective tool for giving your car a thorough clean, but it can also cause serious damage if not used properly. You might rip off trim, strip away paint, or force water into places it’s not meant to go.
Washing A Car With A Pressure Washer
This step-by-step guide outlines everything you need to know about properly cleaning your car with a pressure washer.
Step 1: Have The Right Pressure Washer And Nozzle
When washing your car, it’s imperative that you use a pressure washer with the appropriate power (PSI) and water flow (GPM). Experts recommend 1200 to 2000 PSI and 1.3 to 1.8 GPM when washing a car, as anything higher can damage its paint.
Also make sure that you use the correct size nozzle so that the water is sprayed evenly across the car’s surface.
Step 2: Park Your Car In A Good Washing Spot
To avoid getting other cars or objects wet, find an open space to park your car. A large driveway or another, hard-surfaced open space is recommended.
If you’re using an electric pressure washer, make sure there is an eclectic outlet nearby to power it.
Step 3: Set Up The Pressure Washer
Setting up a pressure washer isn’t complicated. All you have to do is bring it to the washing spot, connect it to its power source, attach it to a water outlet, and secure the right nozzle tip onto the hose.
You should be ready to go once those simple steps are completed.
Step 4: Pre-Rinse The Car
You need to give your car a good rinse before applying a cleaner to it. A pre-rinse will help remove any debris or other substances stuck on the surface and get the car wet for the next step.
Of course, ensure that the car’s doors and trunk are completely closed and that the windows are rolled up. Stand 4 to 5 feet apart from the area of the car you’re rinsing, and move closer if the water volume and pressure warrants it.
Use a 25-degree nozzle tip to deliver a strong and wide stream to remove stones, mud, insects, and other lodged items that can damage the car’s paint later on in the process. Rinse every area of the exterior thoroughly, including the roof and tires.
Step 5: Apply Detergent To The Car
Some pressure washers have a built-in detergent tank, while others need to be accessorized with a foam cannon. Make sure to use the cleaning detergent designed specifically for your pressure washer.
The detergent will need to be diluted with water before it can be applied to your car. If your pressure washer has a detergent tank, load it up with the diluted solution and adjust the setting to spray detergent rather than water.
With a foam cannon, pour the diluted detergent into the canister and connect it to the washer. If your pressure washer doesn’t have a detergent tank or accommodate a foam cannon, you will have to apply the solution the old-fashioned way, which is to say by hand.
Once everything is set up, spray your car with the detergent, starting from the top and moving your way down. Give time for the detergent to work by allowing it to stay on the vehicle for about five minutes without letting it dry. If necessary, use a soft cloth or brush to scrub particularly dirty areas.
Step 5: Rinse Detergent Off The Car
After given the detergent some time to work its magic, switch your pressure washer back to using plain water. You can remove the detergent off the car by using either a 25- or 40-degree nozzle tip.
Rinse from top to bottom, doing so from a 45-degree angle if possible so that the detergent slides off easily. Keep spraying your car with water until no foam or sud remains.
After rinsing, you may leave the car in the sun to dry or use a towel or soft cloth to speed up the process. Once it has completely dried, apply a quality car wax for added shine and protection.
Safety Tips For Using A Pressure Washer
Pressure washers are machines and should be treated as such. Negligence or misuse of even the best-built, highest-quality car pressure washer can cause both you and your car dearly, so always take the necessary precautions whenever using one.
Here are some safety tips that, if followed, will help prevent injuries to yourself and others and damages to your car.
Always Follow The Manufacturer’s Instructions
Even the best designed pressure washer for cars can cause harm to both you and your vehicle if misused. Make sure to read the owner’s manual before using any pressure washer so that you get the desired results safely and effectively and that you don’t void the manufacturer’s warranty because of improper usage.
Aim Down When First Turning The Machine On
Point the pressure washer wand towards the ground when you first turn on the machine so that you don’t accidentally blast the object you’re cleaning with the wrong amount of pressure. Make sure not to stand around any object that is easily breakable or you don’t want to get wet.
Avoid Using A Pressure Washer At Heights
Pressure washers have a powerful kickback that can make you lose your balance, so avoid using one while on a ladder or any other non-flat surface. Try using an extension lace or other similar attachments if you need to reach hard-to-reach areas.
Don’t Use Gas-Powered Pressure Washers Indoors
Because all gas-powered pressure washers use combustion engines that produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, a gas that can cause health problems such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness if inhaled, they shouldn’t be operated in enclosed spaces, especially poorly-ventilated ones.
Electric pressure washers are a safer option for tasks requiring you to clean in an enclosed area.
Avoid Getting The Pressure Washer Wet
It’s never a good idea to combine water and electricity. To avoid shocking yourself or others, make sure your electric pressure washer is always placed in an area where it will not make contact with water. You also want to routinely check that all electrical components are in good working condition and that there are no exposed wires.
Although the best electric pressure washers have a waterproof design, as machines, they do deteriorate over time and can become faulty.
Always Wear Safety Goggles To Protect Your Eyes
The strong jet of water that pressure washers emit can send dirt, debris, and other substances flying at your face, so always wear protective goggles to protect your eyes. You may also want to put on a good set of earmuffs to block out the noise made by the hose.
Don’t Use Pressure Washer On People, Animals, Or Plants
Never point your pressure washer’s nozzle at yourself, other people, animals, or plants. The strong pressurized water can cause harm.
Best Pressure Washer For Cars FAQs
Here are answers to some questions that may not have been addressed in our pressure washer reviews, buying guide, and other sections.
Can A Pressure Washer Damage My Car?
While it’s possible to safely clean your car with a pressure washer, there is always the risk that such a powerful machine will cause damage. If used improperly, a pressure washer can damage the car’s paint, break its glass, and possibly even make a dent. That’s why you should always take every necessary precaution when using one.
What Is The Most Powerful Electric Pressure Washer?
Most electric pressure washers are designed for light- and medium-duty applications; however, some heavy-duty models such as the Pressure-Pro Max HP Series produce at least 7,000 PSI. That’s way too much power for most standard applications.
What Is A Good Cheap Pressure Washer?
The Greenworks GPW1501 often ranks as one of the best, if not the best, budget pressure washers. This light- to medium-duty electric model delivers the performance you would expect from an electric washer while being affordable. Another highly affordable option is the Ryobi RY141612 Electric Pressure Washer.
Electric Vs Gas Pressure Washer, Which Is Better?
Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Gas-powered pressure washers are generally more powerful and are not dependent on a static power source; however, they are bigger, heavier, and produce fumes that relegate them to outdoor use only.
Electric pressure washers are more compact, lighter, and can be used indoors since they don’t produce fumes. However, they can’t be used in places without an electric outlet or a power generator.
How Much PSI Is Good For Cleaning A Car?
Pressure washers are designed with different power levels, from as low as
1300 PSI to 4000 PSI or higher. For cleaning a car, the ideal range is 1500 to 2000 PSI and 1.3 to 1.8 GPM, as anything higher than 2000 PSI can damage your car’s paint or exterior trim elements.
Cleaning your car with a pressure washer has its benefits. Compared to the two-bucket wash method or using a hose, you can get a more thorough cleaning, remove tough stains easier, save time and money, and reduce water wastage.
However, finding the best car pressure washer requires understanding how this useful cleaning tool works, the different types and models currently available, and how to safely and effectively use one. We hope that our comprehensive buying guide and catalog of pressure washer reviews departed that knowledge.
The Sun Joe SPX3000 is our number one pick for the best pressure washer for cars. It’s a well-designed, high-quality electric washer that delivers a high PSI and great all-around performance for cleaning the toughest stains. As for our best budget pressure washer, the Greenworks GPW1501 stood above the crowd.