LAST UPDATED: April 24, 2019
Best Pressure Washer for Cars: Experience Incredible Cleaning Power
Get rid of the toughest stains on your car with these top-rated pressure washers
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PUBLISHED ON April 24, 2019
Are you tired of always taking your car down to the car wash? Then you should consider pressure washing to get rid of all the dirt, dust, grime, and other stains that are keeping you from showing off your sweet ride on the roads. A pressure washer only takes minutes to clean your car, and you can use it for other cleaning needs like cleaning your driveway or garage. If you haven’t already grabbed your pressure washer, consider going for some of the top-rated pressure washers in our buying guide.
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Benefits of Car Pressure Washers
- Clean tough stains. Pressure washers come with different pressure settings to handle light-, medium-, and heavy-duty tasks. Tough stains like oil, grease, or grime fall in the line of heavy-duty tasks, which a high-pressure washer can blast off your car. Some washers also come with accessories like scrubbers and soap applicators that make removing tough stains an easy job.
- Time-saving. On average, it takes about 10 minutes to clean your car on low pressure. Heavy-duty cleaning may take double that time, but if you know how to work the machine, it’s almost impossible to spend more than an hour cleaning your car.
- Cost effective. You have probably spent a lot of money in the past when hiring a professional cleaner to get rid of tough stains on your car. A car pressure washer helps you save money as you can take care of the cleaning task yourself.
- Portability. Most car pressure washers are light enough to be carried around. You could store one in your trunk and pull it out whenever you need a quick cleanup. Some even have wheels so you can drag them around and clean about five more cars in your garage.
- Eco-friendly. You no longer have to use harsh chemicals to clean your car. Pressure washers release water at high velocity and power to lift the toughest stains from your vehicle. In most cases, you won’t have to use a detergent and that’s good for the environment.
Types of Car Pressure Washers
Hydraulic Pressure Washer
Hydraulic pressure washers are quiet, compact, and lightweight. They use a hydraulic mechanism to generate energy and do not require fuel or electricity to function. For that reason, they are eco-friendly and suitable for commercial use.
Diesel-engine washers are suitable for medium- and heavy-duty work. The washer depends on diesel to fuel the pump. Because it generates fumes, it is not suitable for indoor use. Diesel engine washers are available in many sizes.
Gas engine washers are similar in design to diesel engine washers. These washers use gas as the main source of fuel to power the pump. They are suitable for medium- and heavy-duty cleaning tasks. They also generate fumes and are, therefore, for outdoor use only.
Electric pressure washers need to be connected to a power generator or an electric outlet to work. They are suitable for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty work.
Sun Joe is a brand of outdoor tools marketed under Snow Joe + Sun Joe. The company name was coined from its business mantra that it makes the best-looking outdoor tools whether the sun is shining or the snow is falling. The company was founded in 2004 and currently operates a 271,000 square foot distribution center in Mahwah, New Jersey. It sells the Sun Joe SPX3000, which is one of the best power washers for cars.
Greenworks is a global manufacturer of battery-powered tools suitable for the DIY user. The company uses best-in-class technology to provide reliable products that meet the performance needs of the consumer. It started its business in Seattle, Washington but later relocated to Sweden to meet the demands of its European, Middle East, and Asian markets. A popular Greenworks power tool is the Greenworks 1500 PSI.
Briggs & Stratton
Briggs & Stratton is a renowned American Fortune 1000 manufacturer of gasoline-powered tools and the world’s largest small engine producer. The company’s headquarters are in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and it has a testing facility in Pierce, Florida. The company also manufactures garden care tools and power generators but pressure washers are its best-selling products, especially the Briggs & Stratton 20545.
Karcher is a family-owned manufacturing company based in Winnenden, Germany. The company is an industry leader in the production of some of the best cleaning tools, including window vacuum cleaners, wash water treatment equipment, military decontamination equipment, and high-pressure washers. One recommended pressure washer from Karcher is the Karcher Premium Electric Pressure Washer.
Car Pressure Washers Pricing
- Below $100: Pressure washers within this price range are of good quality, and some can be depended on to perform light- and medium-duty cleaning tasks. You, however, won’t get extra accessories that come with higher-priced washers like extra detergent tanks and wheels for portability.
- $100-$200: This is the most common price range for electric pressure washers. Most washers in this range have a high PSI (pounds per square inch) rating and can be depended on to perform light to heavy-duty cleaning tasks.
- Above $200: Pressure washers at this range often have the highest PSI rating and are most likely to be used for car detailing. They come with plenty of convenience features like scrubbers, extra detergent tanks, detergent injectors, and other items that make cleaning car surfaces easy.
How close is the pump’s power source? For car pressure washers, electric motors are the best since almost every home has an electric outlet. Also, electric washers utilize a high amperage in their motors to deliver a PSI of about 2,000, which is an ideal pressure for car washing. Engine pressure washers deliver a higher PSI rating and are more suitable for car detailing when you want to remove old paint from your car.
The nozzle size largely affects the amount of water coming out of the spray gun. Sometimes you may want a narrow spray for a light cleaning job or a powerful spray to remove the toughest grease stains. Keep in mind that there are critical parts of your car that a powerful spray could damage. You should, therefore, go for a pressure washer with an adaptable nozzle so that you can adjust the width of the spray to suit the cleaning task.
- Hose Length: The appropriate length of the hose in a washer is about 25 feet long. Anything less will have you constantly knocking down the pressure washer. On the other hand, if the hose reel is too long, it will be an inconvenience when you want to move around the washer
- Soap/Detergent Tank: You cannot just rely on water to get rid of all the stains. Soap makes your work easy, and if you get your soap and water from the same source, that makes it more convenient.
Best Pressure Washer for Cars Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Sun Joe SPX3000 is our best car power washer for a number of reasons. First off, it has a 1,800-watt electric motor that delivers a pressure of 2,030 PSI and a steady water flow rate of 1.76 gallons per minute. In addition, the manufacturer included a safety feature in the form of a Total Stop System (TSS) trigger, which automatically shuts off the pump when your finger isn’t on the trigger.
The fun doesn’t end there, as the washer also comes with five spray tips featuring Quick-Connect technology. This makes it easy to change the spray tips when you want to switch between light-, medium-, and heavy-duty work. This Sun Joe model is also equipped with two 0.9-liter onboard detergent tanks for maximum cleaning power. The rear wheels make it easy to move around the washer.
Despite the fact that this washer is CSA-approved, it would be better if it had a stronger hose connector that’s not prone to leaking. That could pose a safety issue if you are using it when it’s plugged into an electrical outlet. The nozzle also gets rusty after prolonged use. Moreover, the manual doesn’t come with the best instructions to help a newbie set up the device.
The Greenworks 1500 PSI is not just the best affordable pressure washer on the market, but it also boasts premium features like 25- and 40-degree quick connects nozzles. You can easily change from light- to medium-duty cleaning tasks with 1,500 PSI of water pressure delivered at 1.2 gallons per minute (GPM). It’s capable of getting rid of oil stains, heavy mildew stains, mud, and grime.
This 17.5-pound machine comes with multiple tips for connectivity, and you can change the spray tips to control the water pressure. The soap applicator supplies you with soap as you clean any surface. It draws its power from an electric outlet and features a long 35-foot power cord and a 13-amp universal motor. You will find it convenient that the washer can be used either vertically or horizontally.
The flipside to its greatness is that it has no wheels, which makes it hard to clean multiple vehicles. In addition, this model wasn’t made for heavy-duty cleaning. The spray pressure could be better. It also feels cheap with some of the parts starting to fall apart after about two years of extended use.
This electric pressure washer is for anyone who wants a reliable unit that runs quietly. It’s powered with a durable brushless induction motor that can push out a maximum pressure of 2,000 psi at a rate of 1.2 gallons per minute. It’s designed with a military-grade steel frame that can survive accidental drops, and includes an onboard detergent tank.
The unit comes with four quick-connect nozzles that allow you to increase the water pressure or adjust the angle of water flow by about zero to 20 degrees. It also features a foldable handle that folds the unit almost in half so that it can fit in smaller spaces such as your trunk. You can rely on this unit to get rid of any kind of dirt or grime lodged on your car.
However, the fact that the hose doesn’t store well on the unit is the most significant nagging issue. It tends to unravel easily. In addition, some of the spray tips might not click in place and can shoot out once the washer is activated.
As the name suggests, the WPX2700 provides a maximum pressure of 2,700 psi at a rate of 2.3 gallons per minute. It’s a deep-cleaning power washer that is not only good for removing the grime from your tires, but can also be used to wash garage floors, sidewalks, fences, and walls. The unit has a heavy-duty steel construction equipped with an onboard one-gallon gas tank and a ½-gallon soap tank. It relies on the maintenance-free axial cam pump to facilitate air-free pumping when it’s running at maximum pressure.
Connected right at the soap tank is a 25-foot, abrasion-resistant hose with a spray gun. You get four quick-connect nozzles to attach on the spray gun, which can spray at an angle of 0, 25, and 40 degrees. The fourth one is designed for exclusively dispensing soap. What’s more, the unit has 12-inch wheels for easy maneuverability when you are cleaning around your car.
What you might not like about it is the poor quality hose that may kink easily or leak at the connector. Also, the pump can run hot when operating under maximum pressure, and it can melt the hose if you forget to move it from the pump.
You can’t go wrong if you decide to buy a pressure washer that delivers a little more pressure to get rid of the tougher debris and grease stains on your vehicle. This is why we included this gas pressure washer from Champion. It delivers a maximum pressure of 3,200 psi at 2.4 gallons per minute from its 25-foot high-pressure hose.
All this pressure will feel comfortable on your hand thanks to the ergonomic wand with a fatigue-free trigger. For a little versatility, the manufacturer provides five nozzles that allow you to shoot out the liquid at an angle of 0, 15, 25, and 40 degrees. The last nozzle is specifically designed for releasing soap. For safety, the unit will automatically shut off when it’s low on oil. You will find it easy to move around the unit since it has dolly-style wheels.
Champion is an apex manufacturer of automotive products, so expect to pay a little extra for this pressure washer. Besides that, it may come with some faulty spray tips that don’t click in place.
The Stanley SHP2150 is an electric power washer with a powerful, noise-free motor that delivers a maximum pressure of 2,150 psi. The detergent bottle is the main special feature on the unit since it doubles as a foam cannon to allow for deeper cleaning of tough stains. The detergent bottle can hold a maximum of 28 ounces.
Attachments on the unit include a pressure washer gun with onboard storage for about four quick-connect nozzles. It also includes a 25-foot, high-pressure hose that’s designed with professional-grade brass connectors to prevent leaks. For easy transporting, the unit comes with two never-go-flat wheels and a telescopic handle that you can push in or out.
The main downside of this unit is that it doesn’t come with a built-in detergent tank. Also, it has a plastic body and wheels, which can crack easily if mishandled. Another issue is that it doesn’t produce the best water flow, at only 1.4 gallons per minute.
The Karcher K1700 is another great option for anyone looking for an average-powered electric power washer. It provides a maximum pressure of 1,700 psi at a rate of 1.2 gallons per minute. You can adjust the water and detergent flow with the three nozzles provided; one is an all-purpose nozzle, another only shoots out water at a 15-degree angle, and then lastly you have the detergent nozzle.
What’s more, the unit comes with a 20-foot hose, and you can easily turn it on or off by stepping on the foot pedal at the base. The best part is that it comes with a removable 0.5-gallon detergent tank and storage bin for storing all your extra nozzles and other accessories.
The main drawback of this model is that the hose may leak at the point it attaches to the unit. Also, at 20-feet, you can say it’s a bit shorter than the hoses that come with other electric washers. In addition, the soap dispenser might malfunction over time.
The MSH 3125 is yet another high-pressure cleaner that comes packing a lot of power. This is because it's powered with a Honda GC190 engine that pushes out 3,200 psi of pressure at a rate of 2.5 gallons per minute.
At first glance, you will notice that the unit has a bulky profile and that’s mostly because of the onboard features. For one, it’s designed with a welded steel frame, which is supported with 10-inch pneumatic wheels. It also has space for storing an abrasion-resistant and kink-free Morflex hose that’s 25 inches long. Other features include an ergonomic spray gun that comes with five quick-connect spray nozzles.
Naturally, as with the other pressure washers on our list, this model has a few drawbacks. It can get quite loud and you might find it hard to use it indoors. Also, the drag handle could be slightly longer to make it easier to move the unit around.
- Put your safety first when using an electric power washer. Although many are designed to be waterproof, machines do get old and/or faulty. Always ensure that the washer is placed in an area free of water splashes and puddles.
- Pressure washers emit jets of water at high pressure, which can send debris flying at your face. Protect your eyes with a good pair of protective goggles and wear earmuffs to cover up the noise from the hose.
- Always hold the spray wand at the correct distance from the nozzle. Consult with the owner’s manual on where your hands should be. The last thing you want is to get smacked in the face from the pressure coming out of the nozzle.
- It’s dangerous to point the washer nozzle at children, animals, or plants since the pressure may throw them off balance and hurt them. You should also use the spray when you are on a flat surface as the pressure may knock you off a raised platform.
Q: Is it safe to repair the spray hose if it has a puncture?
A: No. Once your hose gets a puncture, it’s time to get a new high-pressure hose. Most washers have a PSI of 2,000 and above, and it’s almost difficult to contain such pressure with a glue-on patch or any other kind of puncture dressing.
Q: Why does the nozzle in my pressure washer clog?
A: There is probably some debris in the pressure washer system. That could happen if you are using an unfiltered water tank as your main source of water. Remove the clog immediately with a firm stick or connect the pressure washer to tap water and let it spray for a couple of minutes until all the debris comes out.
Q: Is it safe to leave fuel in the gas tank when transporting the washer?
A: No, it’s not. Always ensure that you drain the gas tank before you put it in your trunk to prevent spills that could be a potential fire hazard. It’s also not safe to travel with the smell of leaking fuel in your trunk.
Our pick for the best pressure washer for cars is the Sun Joe SPX3000. It’s an electric washer with a high PSI rating and great performance capability when it comes to lifting off the toughest stains from your car.
Our best budget power washer is the Greenworks 1500 PSI since it’s affordable and it doesn’t fall short as an electric washer. It’s great for light- and medium-duty cleaning.