Washing your car should be one of your regular household chores. Refraining from washing your car can lead to harmful dirt and grime eroding, damaging and staining your vehicle.
Plus, no one wants to be that person drawing in excess attention over a dirty car with the words “clean me” smudged on the back window.
To avoid the excessive drive through car washing fees, and to show your car the love it deserves, you should invest in the best power washer for your cars.
Pressure Washers For Cars - Comparison Guide
AR Blue Clean AR390SS
Briggs & Stratton 20545
Ivation Electric Pressure Washer
Sun Joe SPX3001
Types Pressure Washers For Cars
You can find models of both pressure washers available on the market. Here’s what you need to know about the differences.
Gas-powered pressure washers
These types of pressure washers are ideal for large-scale projects. You can use them to quickly clean decks and siding. In addition, they generally pump out about 2,000 to 2,800 PSI of water pressure at a time. Because of the additional pressure, they are ideal for getting rid of sap, stains and baked on dirt.
A gas-powered pressure washer will clean a concrete patio three times faster than an electric model would. There are some downsides that come with that power. First, you have additional noise and weight. In addition to that, you’ll have to worry about fuel-mixing and tune-ups.
The pumps will need to be winterized in colder climates and these machines should not be stored indoors. Gas models tend to be too powerful to wash the car with and can also injure wood or various other soft surfaces. A general price range for this model would be between $200 and $500.
Electric-powered pressure washers
These types of pressure washers are ideal for lighter-duty jobs. You can use them to clean small decks, patios, furniture and vehicles.
They tend to be lightweight and quiet plus create little maintenance work. There are no exhaust emissions and they can also be stored indoors.
The only downside to the electric pressure washer is slower cleaning times. You will also need to be near an outlet for the washer to work.
Expect to pay anywhere between $80 to $200 for a decent electric pressure washer.
What to look for in a Good Pressure Washer
When choosing the best car pressure washer, there are some things to consider. This ensures you get the most from your wash and the most bang for your buck.
What good is a pressure washer without the pressure? Levels are measured in terms of PSI. Basically, the higher the PSI is, the more powerful your unit is. You have to be careful not to go too high or you could crack your windshield while washing.
Light-duty pressure washers tend to have a rating of 1300 to 2000 PSI. These are best for cleaning decks, patios and garden equipment. Some people also use them to wash off motorbikes or small cars.
Medium-duty pressure washers rate between 2000 to 2800 PSI. These are ideal for cleaning SUVs, trucks, sedan, gutters, swimming pools, larger patios, drains and hot tubs.
A heavy-duty pressure washer is rated 2900 to 3000 PSI. These are ideal for heavy machinery or large vehicles. They are also used to wash off brick and stonework. If you find a unit over 3000 PSI, this is considered to be extra heavy-duty.
You’ll need to consider your power source. Some machines are electric powered which means you need access to a plug. This is sometimes difficult depending on where you are washing your vehicle.
Other options include gas-powered motors which make the machine mobile. With that in mind, they are also louder.
Depending on what you’re washing, you might need some special hose adaptations. For example, if you aren’t tall but you want to reach the roof of your truck, you’ll likely need an extension hose.
Before purchasing the best power washer for cars, you’ll need to make sure that you can get the correct accessories.
If you are willing to invest in the best pressure washer for cars, you might find some special features with your machine. An important one would be a detergent tank. This makes foam to clean your vehicle out of soap you put in. With this feature, you spend less time preparing and more time cleaning.
Cord or tool storage is also essential. By having a compartment to put all your tools plus the power cord, you can stay organized.
Adjustable nozzles allow you to dial in the amount of pressure you need. We recommend purchasing a machine with this feature because it gives you more freedom over the jobs you perform. Interchangeable wands offer some versatility as well with your power washer.
Some of the higher-end machines come with thermal relief or unloaders. This manages the buildup of heat from the pressure washer. It also stops any problem that would’ve been caused by excessive pressure buildup.
Top 5 Pressure Washers For Cars Reviewed
1. AR Blue Clean AR390SS Electric Power Washer
- OUTDOOR CLEANING POWER: Easy and quick for...
- HIGHLY RATED: Top rated Consumer Report 2016...
- ATTACHMENTS INCLUDED: Professional-style...
- ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Conserves water by...
The AR Blue Clean AR390SS Electric Power Washer is one of the most powerful non-commercial models of power washers by the Annovi Reverberi brand.
This machine is known for it’s efficiency. It operates at a PSI level of 2000, but also comes with the added feature of using less water. By using less water, at a high PSI level, it makes cleaning more efficient, and the machine more environmentally friendly than others.
A 30-foot-high pressure hose is included with this machine, which makes those hard to reach places such as the underbelly of a car, or the roof of your vehicle easy to spray. It also has attachments that allow the machine to fire at a lower pressure.
This comes in handy when washing more sensitive areas of the car such as the headlights or mirrors. An added feature of this machine is it’s portability – the heavy duty wheels, easy grip handle, and electrical cord coil make it easy to transport, and store in a small space. One of the other important features of this machine that make it one of the best power washer for cars, is the customer service that comes with it.
The Annovi Reverberi brand has gained a substantial reputation for being easy to contact, and quick to provide any necessary support that you need with regards to this machine.
Comparing the AR Blue Clean to other models
This machine holds up well compared to others on the market. At a mid-range price level, some of the features such as its portability and environmentally friendly nature are exceptional. The PSI level is higher than most non-commercial pressure washers (though not the highest on the market) which assists in getting the job done quickly.
One of the potential downfalls of this machine over others, is the fact that it is electrically powered. This means that you will need to have a power source (electrical outlet) nearby to power the machine.
However, by providing a 35-foot-long power cord, this likely negates this minor downside. The numerous adaptable hoses and pressure-adjusting-nozzles that are available with this machine put it above others. Being able to use this one machine for all parts of your car (and other household cleaning projects) is a bonus that does not always exist with other machines.
2. Briggs & Stratton 20545 2200-PSI Gas Pressure Washer
- 2200 MAX PSI / 1.9 MAX GPM
- Fuel every project with plenty of reliable...
- Maintenance-Free axial cam pump with Easy...
- Easily attach any of the 3 quick-connect tips...
If you’re not sold on the AR Blue Clean AR383, there are other options out there. The Briggs and Stratton 20545 Gas Pressure Washer runs under a massive PSI of 2200. This machine has a much higher PSI, but uses much more water, making it less environmentally friendly.
This higher PSI does not equate to an equally high efficiency. It is also a gas powered machine, which allows for easier portability when using it around your home. Because it does not need to be plugged in, you can move it to where you need it to be without worrying about a power source.
The engine on this machine is extremely powerful. However, some added weight comes with this powerful engine, which may make it more difficult to transport from one location to the next.
3. Ivation Electric Pressure Washer 2200 PSI 1.8 GPM
- Incredible Cleaning Power Generated by the...
- 5 Interchangeable High and Low Pressure...
- Easy-to-Use System Requires Just 30-Second...
- Power Washer Features Safety Automatic Total...
Another alternative to the AR Blue Clean AR383 is the Ivation Electric Power Washer, which functions with a PSI of up to 2200. Similarly to the AR model, this option comes with an adjustable nozzle which allows you to choose the amount of pressure being exerted from the machine.
This model also allows you to adjust the temperature of the water being used to clean your vehicle, which will be beneficial for climates with variable seasons. Again, this easy to use system requires little assembly, and should be ready to go practically as soon as you make the purchase.
The adaptations that come with this machine are varied, though an extendable hose used to reach high places does not appear to be one of those options. There is also a soap dispenser built into this machine, but it does not need to be used if you don’t feel it is necessary.
The Ivation Electric Power Washer is another strong contender to consider when selecting the best power washer for cars.
4. Sun Joe SPX3001 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5 AMP Electric Pressure Washer with Hose Reel
- POWERFUL MOTOR: Powerful 14. 5-amp/1800-Watt...
- QUICK-CONNECT SPRAY TIPS: 5 Quick-Connect...
- ONBOARD REEL: Onboard reel keeps 20 ft. (6m)...
- TSS (Total Stop System): Automatically shuts...
This electric pressure washer offers a variety of 5-quick connect spray tips so you can easily tackle light to heavy-duty cleaning tasks. The powerful 14.5-amp/1800-watt motor will produce up to 2030 PSI for the maximum amount of cleaning power.
This washer features an onboard reel which keeps the 20-foot hose organized for easy clean-up plus storage. In addition, the Total Stop System (TSS) will automatically shut off the pump if the trigger is not engaged. This is a great safety feature as well as an energy saving option which helps to prolong the life of the pump.
5. EXCELL PWZ0163100.02 3100 PSI 2.8 GPM Cold Water 212CC Gas Powered Pressure Washer
- Features a heavy duty 212-cc OHV cam engine...
- Ergonomic rust resistant wand assembly
- 25-Foot durable high-pressure hose
- 5 quick-connect nozzle tips for different...
This 212cc EXCELL OHV gas engine offers an axial style Brass Head pump that has stainless steel pistons and thermal relief valve. These will help to extend the pump life.
In addition, the ergonomic rust-resistant wand offers assembly with a quick-connect nozzle tip. The five included tips are colored coded so you can easily identify what to use them for. The low-profile frame offers convenient storage in your garage.
This is a heavier model at 76 pounds but has heavy-duty tires for easy mobility. In addition, the unit comes complete with a 25-foot hose so you can reach anywhere.
Are Pressure Washers Good For Detailing Cars?
Pressure washers offer a soap tank which saves you the trouble of using separate containers and buckets. In addition, tools and cords can be stored on board making it an all-in-one piece of machinery.
Some pressure washers come with adjustable nozzles to offer a variety of spray patterns for varying jobs. This is a convenient way to get the right pressure needed to safely wash a vehicle. Because of the ease of using a pressure washer, they tend to be a great option for detailing the car. The only thing to be careful of is that the pressure isn’t too high.
This is especially true when dealing with a gas-powered pressure washer. They can easily harm the car’s paint job if sprayed too forcefully. Our suggestion, if you choose to pressure wash your car, is to use an electric-powered washer and make sure the force is turned down.
When used properly, an electric-powered pressure washer is an effective and quick way to clean the car.
Does a Good Soap Or Detergent Matter?
Most pressure washers contain a compartment designed for detergents. You only want to use a detergent that is geared toward the use of pressure washers.
If a detergent is sold as a concentrate, it is essential that you properly dilute it before applying it to the vehicle.
The manufacturer should give clear dilution directions that you can follow. Our recommendation is the Karcher Concentrated Vehicle Detergent Car Wash & Wax Soap for Gas & Electric Pressure Washers.
One gallon can create up to 20 gallons of detergent with proper dilution. It also rinses away easily without leaving a residue behind.
Once you’ve finished washing the car with the detergent you’ve chosen, it is imperative that you rinse all of the detergents away. Otherwise, it can cause damage to the vehicle’s paint.
Advantages of Using a Pressure Washer over Hand or Hose
Using your hand and hose to clean a car is a great way to make sure every spot of the car is clean. It provides for a more detailed appearance and gives you greater control over the cleaning.
The downside to this is that it can take a lot longer to wash a car by hand. If you don’t mind spending half of your day washing the car, then by all means, wash it by hand.
If, however, you have other things to accomplish, washing the car with a pressure washer is a fast and efficient way to get the job done. You can place the detergent into the designated container and spray it on easily.
Then, with a high-pressure rinse, the vehicle will be clean! It’s as simple as that. Just be sure you use the delicate setting on the pressure washer to protect your paint.
How To Clean Your Car – Experts Guide
Follow these steps for the ultimate cleaning job on your vehicle.
- 1Set the pressure washer on a delicate setting. This should be about 2,000 PSI.
- 2Use the nozzle that offers a wide spray pattern to avoid hurting the paint.
- 3Rinse the car with plain water first.
- 4Dilute detergent according to the directions. Apply the detergent to the vehicle.
- 5Allow the detergent to sit for about three to five minutes.
- 6Use a brush to remove any baked on dirt or grime.
- 7Rinse off the detergent starting at the top of the vehicle and working your way to the bottom.
In addition, you’ll want to keep the car on a hard surface like concrete or asphalt. Make sure you avoid spraying inside the engine or on fragile items such as lights and windows.
Important Pressure Washer Accessories
To get the job done the right way, you will need some accessories to go along with your pressure washer purchase. While some accessories are merely optional, others turn into “must-haves,” depending on your specific projects.
When you use the pressure washer to wash your car or the siding on your house, it is a good idea to invest in a soap reservoir. These tanks will hold your soap and dispense it into the water stream as needed. Similar to how the washers work at a coin-operated car wash, you can wash and rinse without having to change the water source.
When you need to scrub, wipe, scrape, or dry, you will want a good set of cleaning tools to go along with your pressure washer. You can get attachments for the machine like you can for your vacuum, and most will even come in a caddy that will mount on the pressure washer.
There are different types of tips for pressure washers (generally color coded – more on this below). From jet streams to fans, to shower sprays, the different tips will perform different functions. Think of the tips like the turn dial setting on your garden hose nozzle.
When you are working on the side of your house or the big rig trailer, you will want a telescoping wand. Instead of putting your wet feet on a ladder, a telescoping wand will extend your reach while you stay firmly grounded.
Pressure washers are ideal for cleaning concrete, brick, stone, and other surface materials. The water pressure alone isn’t enough in most cases, though. Investing in a surface cleaner for the surface type that you have will go a long in making a clean sidewalk and having a sidewalk that looks brand new again.
Pressure Washer Nozzles Explained
There are 6 universal color coded tips for pressure washers. While the method of attachment and depth, size or shape may change, the colors all tell you the same thing.
Pinpoint pressure. Will damage metal, wood and concrete. Used to clean cracks in sidewalks or remove stubborn materials
Striping paint or cleaning concrete
General purpose. Great for decks, sidewalks and driveways
Good for windows, or any surface if you are unsure what may be “too much” pressure.
Called the “Soap Nozzle” great for soaping cars
Blue (or Over-sized and Black)
The “Turbo Tip” is an over-sized tip that works the same as the red tip except with a wider coverage area. Use with extreme caution.
Safety Tips When Using a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers have their own set of safety concerns that need to be adhered to. Because the water pressure is so high leaving the tips, it is easy to lacerate or puncture the skin. Always keep your hands, arms, and feet out of the path of the spray.
Know your tips. If you plan to wash your car and use a red or turbo tip, you can dent the metal or knock out a window. Make sure you use the right tip for the application. Make sure you use proper protection, especially if you are using the red or turbo tips to clear weeds or edge concrete, small pieces can fly up into your face.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will A Pressure Washer Damage My Car?
As long as you have it set appropriately between 1200 – 1900 PSI, you shouldn’t have an issue.
Can You Use Normal Car Shampoo In A Pressure Washer?
You only want to use the detergent recommended for use with a pressure washer. We recommend this detergent from Karcher.
How Many PSI For Washing A Car?
You’ll want to start on the lower end around 1200 PSI and see how that works before moving up. Remember, going too high can ruin your car’s paint or crack a window.
What Is The Average Price Of A Pressure Washer?
You can find some budget-friendly options under $100, but your feature-rich machines will run more than $100, sometimes even several hundred.
How much water do these pressure washer use?
The actual gallons per minute (GPM) will vary from model to model. The industry average is between 5 and 8 GPM, though.
Is it safe to repair the spray hose if it has a puncture?
No. Because the pressure in the hose is so high, any attempt to patch or repair a puncture will result in more damage and possible injury. If the hose gets cut, sliced, or punctured, it needs to be replaced.
Is it safe to leave fuel in the gas tank while transporting the washer?
For gas-powered models, you should treat them like a lawnmower or other gas-powered equipment. When possible, the gas tanks should be emptied for safety reasons. However, as long as the pressure washer isn’t stored in the cab of your car where the fumes can become overwhelming, you should be okay to transport a pressure washer. You should ensure the machine is secure and won’t tip or wobble during transport.
What to do if the nozzle in my pressure gets clogged?
Turn the power and water supply to the washer off and remove the tip. Some models allow you to lock the nozzle, and if so, you should lock the nozzle. Use an unfolded paper clip or a nozzle cleaning pin to remove the clog. In most cases, you will break the clog a bit and push it down into the nozzle. Use a garden hose to flush the nozzle to completely remove the clog and reassemble the unit.
When you’re investing in something like this that could potentially last a lifetime, you want to make sure you’re getting the best car pressure washer.
The AR model is a solid choice from a company with an excellent reputation and customer service. It’s environmentally friendly characteristics are an added bonus for anyone wishing to take this into consideration.
Any of the above options would be a great choice for someone wishing to avoid the “wash me” writing smudged into the dirt on the back of their car!