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Best Pressure Washers for Cars: More Capable Cleaning Power

These pressure washers will blast away dirt, grime, and more to get your vehicle exterior sparkling clean.

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BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON July 14, 2022

When it comes to stubborn dirt and grime, elbow grease isn’t always the most effective option. No matter how hard you scrub and scour, sometimes you need more power, and your arms probably need a break, too. That’s where a pressure washer can really come in handy. While they’re typically used to blast away years of stubborn grime or old paint off surfaces like wood and concrete, a pressure washer that’s suitable for car washing can help you achieve an extra-clean exterior, all with less physical effort. If you’re looking for a better payoff and a sparkling-clean paint job, then you can enlist the help of a quality pressure washer for cars that’ll protect your surfaces while working efficiently. Best of all, you’ve got plenty of different types of pressure washers available to choose from.

Best Overall

Sun Joe Electric High Pressure Washer

Summary
With a powerful spray, interchangeable nozzles, and two onboard detergent tanks, this electric pressure washer makes car washing easy work.
Pros
  • 2,030 max psi
  • 1.76 gallons per minute
  • Includes five quick-connect nozzles
Cons
  • Quick-connect nozzles can corrode eventually
Best Value

Greenworks 1500 psi 1.2 gpm Pressure Washer

Summary
Lightweight and easy to maneuver with an affordable price, this pressure washer is a great fit for cleaning most vehicles.
Pros
  • 1,500 max psi
  • 1.2 gallons per minute
  • Includes detergent tank and two nozzles
Cons
  • May be too compact and lightweight for some tasks
Honorable Mention

Briggs & Stratton 020681 Electric Pressure Washer

Summary
With higher pressure and solid cleaning potential, this pressure washer for cars makes getting rid of stubborn exterior dirt easy and efficient.
Pros
  • 2,000 max psi
  • 1.2 gallons per minute
  • Includes four quick-connect spray tips
Cons
  • Requires lubricant to get a proper seal
  • No lubricant included
Best Pressure Washers for Cars: More Capable Cleaning Power

Summary List 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

The pressure washers for cars that I chose as the best of the bunch were those made by reputable brands within the power tools and automotive spaces, as well as highly reviewed and well-rated according to users. I specifically sought out pressure washers for cars that were tough on dirt yet convenient to use around a vehicle, with key features like a light weight, plenty of reach or spray distance, and few to no complaints about leaks, failed connections, and portability. Those that made the list of the top picks were those that performed reliability, were easy to set up and use, and did an effective job cleaning vehicle exteriors without a lot of effort. 

Best Pressure Washer for Cars Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Maximum Pressure: 2,030 psi
  • Item Weight: 31 pounds
  • Hose Length: 20 feet

Pros

  • 14.5 amp, 1,800-watt electric motor
  • 1.76 gpm
  • Two onboard, removable 0.9 gal detergent tanks
  • Includes five quick-connect spray nozzles

Cons

  • Quick-connect nozzles can corrode with time and use

The Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric High Pressure Washer is one capable machine, and it’s a very handy model when you’re looking for a car washing accessory. This machine, which features a 14.5-amp, 1,800-watt electric motor, takes all of the elbow grease out of the washing process. It’ll generate up to 2,030 psi max and 1.76 gpm when running at its highest power level. It can be used to clean your vehicle as well as RVs, lawn equipment, boats, decks, and areas around your home and exterior. And thanks to perks like dual onboard detergent tanks and a set of five swappable quick-connect nozzles, you can adapt to each cleaning situation (or area of your vehicle) easily.

The only potential drawback that’s mentioned in users’ reviews is the included quick-connect nozzles can wear with time and use. After a few years of regular use, those nozzles can corrode and become prone to leaks, so they’ll need to be replaced later in the pressure washer’s lifespan.

Specs

  • Maximum Pressure: 1,500 psi
  • Item Weight: 17.36 pounds
  • Hose Length: 20 feet

Pros

  • 13-amp electric motor
  • 1.2 gpm
  • 35 feet pressure cord
  • Soap applicator with two nozzle tips and detachable detergent bottle

Cons

  • May be too compact for some cleaning tasks

Affordable and easy to work with when washing your car, the Greenworks 1500 psi 1.2 gpm Pressure Washer is both convenient and an excellent value. It’s smaller than other electric pressure washers, but it doesn’t skimp on the job. You can carry this upright machine easily, and it offers a 20-inch hose plus a 35-foot power cord for solid reach. It’ll deliver up to 1,500 psi max, with 1.2 gallons of water each minute. And you’ll particularly like the soap applicator, two nozzle tips for application, and the attachable detergent bottle that are nicely designed for soaping up your vehicle. Plus, the pressure washer’s wand is adjustable, which gives you better flexibility (and solid reach) when you’re working outdoors.

However, because the Greenworks pressure washer is a smaller option for cars, it is less powerful. That’s not necessarily a drawback when you’re trying to protect your paint job; however, for some cleaning tasks, users might not find it as effective as other devices.

Specs

  • Maximum Pressure: 2,000 psi
  • Item Weight: 39.95 pounds
  • Hose Length: 25 feet

Pros

  • Brushless electric induction motor
  • 1.2 gpm
  • 0.5 gal integrated detergent tank
  • Includes four quick-connect spray tips

Cons

  • Lubricant is needed for a tight hose seal
  • Lubricant not included with machine

The Briggs & Stratton 020681 Electric Pressure Washer is a well-balanced machine when it comes to delivering a good amount of water pressure and tough cleaning power. However, it’s still gentle enough to tackle the dirt and debris on the exterior of your car. This pressure washer for cars promises to help you clean up to 40 percent faster thanks to its durable brushless induction motor, which offers 2,000 max psi and 1.2 gpm. Plus, it’s particularly helpful thanks to the included specialized (and time-saving) turbo nozzle. The machine features a tough welded steel frame and a convenient, compact foldaway design — two perks that also make it great for longevity and garages with limited storage space. And the addition of an integrated detergent tank also comes in handy when you’re soaping up your car’s exterior.

It’s worth noting, however, that you’ll need to spend some time and care with the pressure washer’s hose and nozzles to get a leak-proof connection. Users say it requires some lubricant to seal properly, and there isn’t any included in the box (or the instruction manual’s steps).

Specs

  • Maximum Pressure: 2,700 psi
  • Item Weight: 63 pounds
  • Hose Length: 25 feet

Pros

  • 212cc 4-stroke gas-powered engine
  • 2.3 gpm
  • Includes four quick-connect nozzles
  • Durable steel frame and never-flat wheels

Cons

  • Engine can be tight and require break-in time
  • Needs to cool down if running continuously

If you’re looking for serious pressure cleaning power, the Westinghouse WPX2700 Gas Powered Pressure Washer delivers. Unlike the more popular electric pressure washers you’ll mostly find while shopping, this machine runs on a capable 212cc 4-stroke Westinghouse OHV horizontal shaft engine with recoil start. It’s long-lasting, maintenance-free, and capable of delivering an impressive 2,700 psi max. Plus, it’s convenient to clean with, thanks to the 25-foot hose, 2.3 gpm, and 1.6 liters of tank space. The machine also includes a lightweight spray wand and four quick-connect nozzles with different spray angles, including one reserved just for soaping up. The frame of this pressure washer, which is steel, and the capable wheels make it easy to maneuver around your garage, too.

The only drawback is the engine on this pressure washer is a bit tight, and it may take some time to break in fully. User reviews also mention that after the machine runs continuously, it needs to cool down; otherwise, you might encounter start-up issues or longer-term problems with wear.

Specs

  • Maximum Pressure: 2,150 psi
  • Item Weight: 27 pounds
  • Hose Length: 25 feet

Pros

  • 13 amp electric motor
  • 1.4 gpm
  • Includes attachments like pressure washing gun and wand, foam cannon, and more
  • Includes four quick-connect nozzles

Cons

  • Connector does feature a plastic component that may break

The Stanley SHP2150 Electric Pressure Washer can do it all — wash your car, create cleaning foam fast, maneuver to clean from all angles, and power-wash everything from your car’s exterior to your outdoor furniture, ATVs, and RVs. This is one very versatile pressure washer, and it’s built for both light- and heavy-duty jobs. Relatively lightweight at 27 pounds, this machine can provide up to 2,150 psi max and 1.4 gallons per minute as it works. Equipped with a pro-grade brass hose connector, a pressure washer wand and gun, and a 25-foot high-pressure hose, it’s also dependable in its performance. And you’ll really benefit from the included attachments; the foam cannon and detergent tank and multiple quick-connect nozzle choices give you more choices for washing your car.

However, there is one pain point on this pressure washer, and it’s the water inlet connector. Although this connector is made of durable brass that shouldn’t weaken or break with use, it does contain a small inner plastic piece — and that can break. Users note that this little plastic part can crack or fall apart with wear, leaving you with a leaky connection unexpectedly over years of use.

Specs

  • Maximum Pressure: 1,700 psi
  • Item Weight: 20.7 pounds
  • Hose Length: 20 feet

Pros

  • 1.2 gpm
  • Easy on-off foot switch pedal
  • Removable storage bin for accessories
  • 0.5 gal detergent tank

Cons

  • Hose may be a bit short for some

For the ultimate maneuverability and ease of use around the house, opt for the Karcher K1700 Electric Power Pressure Washer. A surprisingly lightweight machine, you’ll get the same pressure washing power as you’d find in larger machines, but with the ease of being able to move this one wherever it’s needed. At just 20.7 pounds, this pressure washer is a great car washing companion. You’ll enjoy up to 1,700 psi max and 1.2 gallons per minute. Plus, there are added perks built in for convenience, like an on-off foot pedal to prevent bending and back strain, a removable storage bin for accessories, and convenient cord storage. The addition of three quick-connect spray nozzles, a bayonet spray wand, and a 0.5 gallon onboard detergent tank are all helpful for car washing, too.

The only complaint users have about this pressure washer is its hose length. For some, the included 20-foot hose may not offer enough reach. However, it can easily be swapped out for a longer one.

Our Verdict

The Sun Joe Electric High Pressure Washer is the best overall pressure washer for cars because it balances strong psi with great cleaning power and the dual detergent tanks make it incredibly easy to soap up and rinse off quickly. Plus, its included nozzles give you more control. And the Greenworks 1500 psi 1.2 gpm Pressure Washer is a great option for those who want solid cleaning ease and efficiently at a more budget-friendly price, with multiple nozzle choices and a single detergent tank. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pressure Washer for Cars

From size to max psi to wand style and reach, there are plenty of factors that go into choosing a pressure washer that’s suitable for your car. If you’re wondering where to start, here’s what to keep in mind as you search and shop for the best product options. 

Types of Pressure Washers for Cars

Electric Pressure Washers

If you’re looking for an easy-to-operate pressure washer that’s efficient, low maintenance, and gets the job done, consider an electric model. Available primarily as corded models (though some are cordless), electric pressure washers can handle most light-to-moderate jobs, and their electric motors can easily tackle full-size sedans, SUVs, and trucks. However, the lighter in weight and more portable your electric power washer is, the less effective it’ll be for the toughest power washing jobs beyond your car. 

Gas Pressure Washers

If you’re looking for more power in a pressure washer, gas models are the top choice. These heavier-duty pressure washers are often used by professionals, and they do tend to be more expensive investments. However, if you’re planning to utilize your pressure washer for more intense tasks in addition to vehicle cleaning (like removing paint or power-washing concrete), these are the more capable choice. Just be cautious with the intensity and pressure level when working on your car.

Key Features of Pressure Washers for Cars

Adjustable Nozzle

A pressure washer isn’t very helpful if you can’t control the stream of water or soap coming out of the nozzle. So, make sure you opt for a machine that features an adjustable nozzle. That’ll allow you to change the angle of the spray and focus (or reduce) the intensity of the water that’s coming through. Pressure washers typically either feature a set of colored, interchangeable nozzles or an all-in-one adjustable nozzle; the adjustable variety is simpler, more streamlined, and easier to deal with on the fly. 

Strong CPU

While you’ve likely already checked out the psi and gpm of any pressure washer you’re considering, you should also think about the CPU. While not always listed in the product description, the CPU — or cleaning power units — helps you assess how well a given pressure washer can clean. And it’s easy to calculate yourself by multiplying the gpm by the psi. The higher the CPU is, the better it’ll be for deep cleaning. Just keep in mind that extremely high pressure and low gallons-per-minute can be too strong for a car exterior; you want a balanced and solid CPU, but don’t want a psi or gpm that’s too skewed in one direction. 

Telescoping or Extension Wand

To maximize your reach into tight corners, around the angles of your car, and without having to move your entire pressure washing machine, look for one that features a telescoping or extension wand. This wand style allows you to get extra reach with just a few twists of the wand, and it can be particularly beneficial for getting into nooks and crannies, without having to physically move around as much. Plus, it’s an added convenience if you’re using your pressure washer for your car and other areas around the house.

Lengthy Hose

While pressure washers are usually all about the water coming out of the wand, you don’t want to overlook the hose. The hose determines your reach, and a shorter hose will limit your movement. If you don’t want to wind up standing on a stool or ladder while trying to wash the roof of your car, make sure to opt for a pressure washer that offers a lengthy hose — 20 to 50 feet is a good range, especially if you’re looking for versatility. 

Pressure Washer for Cars Pricing 

As you’re shopping for a pressure washer, you’ll find options that cover a range from $100 to $300. Most models fall in the spot between $150 and $250, with lower-end and no-frills models priced at around $100 to $150 and higher-end options hitting $250 to $300. If you don’t need high psi potential, you can stick with the lower- and mid-range pricing. However, if you need a lot of power or want to have the maximum number of features and capabilities, a premium pick may be best. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What psi pressure washer is best for cars?

A: A solid, safe range is 1,200 to 1,900 psi. Going above 1,900 psi can potentially cause damage to your car’s paint and exterior parts, so it’s best to stay a bit lower. 

Q: Can you turn down the psi on a pressure washer?

A: You can definitely control the maximum pressure your pressure washer is using to generate its powerful spray. Gas pressure washers often have pressure regulators on the pump; electric models tend to have regulators on the spray wands.

Q: Can you use Dawn dish soap in a pressure washer?

A: You can, but you’ll need to dilute the dish soap before getting to work. And it’s also worth noting that even the best dish soap may not deliver as good of a clean as foams and soaps specially formulated for use in a pressure washer. 

Q: Can you pressure wash tires?

A: Typically, auto and tire manufacturers warn against using a pressure washer to clean your tires. The high-frequency pulsing can potentially damage the sidewall cords and weaken your tires. 

Q: Will a pressure washer remove brake dust?

A: Yes, you can use a pressure washer’s extra strength to blast away brake dust underneath your wheels or hanging around the brakes. However, you may still need some elbow grease and a wheel brush to get into tight spots.

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