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Some people are perfectly happy lovingly washing their car by hand with a bucket of mild soapy water and soft wash mitts, some only have the time to run it through a drive-thru wash after a fill-up, and others can’t be bothered to wash their car at all. However, keeping your car clean will keep your vehicle in better condition in the long run – especially in areas that use salt over the winter months—and one tool that can make cleaning it quicker, easier, and more affordable in the long run is a pressure washer. Sure you can use one at a local coin wash, but then you have to go out of your way to get there instead of just doing it your driveway, and a pressure has many other uses around the house and yard that make it a worthwhile investment.

There are many types of pressure washers, from gas to electric and portable to industrial strength, and what works for one household might be overkill for another. So how do you find the right pressure washer?

We combed the far reaches of the internet to find you the best options for various different levels of need and budget, and dive into what you need to look for when shopping for a pressure washer.

If you want to know more about the best pressure washers for cars use the table of contents to navigate, but first, here are a few of the best pressure washers for car washing and using around the yard.

1. Editor's Pick: Sun Joe SPX3001 Pressure Washer

sun joe spx3001 pressure washer

If you want something a little more substantial for heavier duty tasks than just washing your car, one of the most popular pressure washers on Amazon is the Sun Joe SPX 3000. Even after over 5,600 reviews, it still maintains an incredible 4.2-star rating thanks to its good power, quiet operation, light weight, and affordability.

With a 14.5 amp/1800 Watt motor, it generates 2,030 PSI of pressure, plus a decent 1.76 GPM water flow, which should be plenty for all typical household jobs, from cleaning the car, boat, and RV to siding, decks, fences, patios, and more. The five quick connect nozzles mean you have a variety of pressures for tougher jobs to wider spreads for gentle work like your car. It should be noted that you never want to use any of the really fine sprays on your car as it could peel the paint off, especially if there is already a paint chip. Between the 35-foot power cord and 20-foot hose, you have over 50 feet of range from the nearest outlet, and the plug features GFCI protection so you want cause a short circuit.

However, for just a few bucks more, the Sun Joe SPX 3000 has the same pressure, same 14.5-amp power, same reach, same five quick-connect nozzles, but adds a hose reel. Aside from the hose reel, about the only difference is that the SPX3000 includes two smaller 30-ounce reservoir tanks for soap, while the SPX3001 has just one larger 40-ounce tank.

2. Best Budget Option: Greenworks GPW1602 Pressure Washer

greenworks gpw1602 pressure washer

If you don’t need a pressure washer for anything more demanding than washing your car and cleaning your fence and wooden deck, and therefore don’t want to overspend on something that’s just going to sit in the garage most of the time, then this Greenworks GPW1501 is a great choice. It’s light and easy to use, with just the right pressure for washing your car, with an attachment for a soap dispenser, though beyond that it just has two nozzles for more and less focused power.

This one is also great for storage in small garages or sheds as the wand can be broken down to two pieces and the handle dropped for incredibly compact storage dimensions. If you are wanting a bit more power, Greenworks does make larger 1600 and 1700 PSI models with a higher sticker price. For the most part the GPW1501 will be more than adequate for household needs, but with the 1700 PSI model you do gain the benefit of a hose reel. Between the very affordable price, just the right pressure for car cleaning, and positive reviews, this pressure washer ticks just about all the boxes.

3. Worx WG629 Pressure Washer

 

worx wg629 cordless hydroshot portable power cleaner

If the idea of even a smaller pressure washer like the Greenworks still seems like too much effort to schlep around, and you want something even lighter and more portable, Worx has come out with a very light duty cordless 20V “Power Cleaner.” While it’s not a true pressure washer with just 320 PSI, it definitely won’t mess up any paint, but is going to lift dirt and grime off your car’s surface better than just the hose on its own. It has five spray angles built into its single variable nozzle, and you can connect it to your garden hose or simply draw water from a a bucket or other open water source like a lake, so it’s great for campers.

Because it’s so light on pressure, it’s not going to be a proper car wash without a bucket of suds and a good cloth, but it would be great for spraying the car down between proper washes just to get caked-on dirt off, and a soap dispenser attachment is available separately to make it a more complete car-washing tool. If you use it attached to your garden hose, you don’t need to disconnect it for watering the lawn or garden as it has a Shower setting for watering plants.

4. Karcher K1700 Electric Pressure Washer

karcher k1700 electric power pressure washer

Another good option using electric power in the middle range for pressure is the Karcher K1700. As the name suggests it offer 1,700 PSI, and the Karcher is built around convenience, with a big wheels so it’s easy to move around, a removable bucket that doubles as hose storage, and removable half-gallon soap tank. The K1700 also features a handy foot-operated on/off switch, and although it doesn’t have a hose real, the power cord storage is at the very top of the handle so you don’t have to bend down to wind it and stow it neatly. Although it only has three nozzles, they are the three most useful ones, a turbo nozzle for focused cleaning power, 15-degree all-purpose nozzle, and one for soap application.

While many brands only offer a one-year warranty, Karcher backs up their product with a limited three-year warranty with a rapid exchange program should you encounter any issues covered by the warranty. Areas of concern are the short hose and reports of a malfunctioning soap dispenser.

5. WEN PW31 Gas Pressure Washer

wen pw31 gas pressure washer

If you want a heavy duty gas-powered washer but don’t necessarily want to spend as much as it would cost for the Ryobi or other well known brands like DEWALT, Cub Cadet, or Simpson, this Wen PW31 is a popular, affordable option with impressive user ratings. The 208 cc engine produces 3,100 PSI, with five different tips with built-in storage for a variety of different pressures and a soap dispenser and onboard soap tank. It has big wheels to roll it almost anywhere in the yard, and a 30-foot hose so you don’t have to move it much once you start spraying.

Both this 3100 PSI model and 2800 PSI model have very good ratings and user reviews, and Wen back up their products with a solid two-year warranty. However, as with any gas model, it requires extra attention for storage, and having gas and oil on hand to refill when necessary, and some owners report that the Wen uses up its gas quickly.

Read More Here’s What You Need to Wash Your Car Like a Pro

6. Annovi Reverberi AR Blue Clean AR383SS

ar annovi reverberi pressure washer

The Annovi Reverberi AR Blue Clean pressure washer consistently appears on lists of the best pressure washers, especially for car cleaning. The AR Blue Clean AR383SS is rated at 1,900 PSI, so it has plenty of power for your car, and likely for any household cleaning jobs, although some users report that the pressure did not live up to expectations of a 1,900 PSI machine. One advantage the AR Blue Clean AR383SS has over many competitors is a longer reach, with a 30-foot long electrical cord and 35-foot power cord, plus 30-foot high-pressure hose, so you should be able to set up over 60-feet from the nearest outlet depending on your garden hose.

Its four quick-change tips include a 25-degree nozzle tip, a rotary turbo nozzle, low-pressure spray soap nozzle, and a 28-ounce detergent reservoir for your car wash soap. With a hose reel, compartments for the nozzles, and wheels, it should be easy to pack up and store.

7. Stanley SHP1600 Electric Pressure Washer

stanley shp1600 electric power washer

Since professional detailers recommend you limit pressure to around 1,500 PSI for washing your car, a 1,600 PSI pressure washer is ideal if that is going to be your main use for it. This Stanley SHP1600 is electric, with a 35-foot power cord and GFCI plug, plus a 20-foot hose, giving it a range of over 50 feet. It has a short wand so it’s easy to manage, but also has an extension that offers good reach if you need it. The SHP1600 also comes with an adjustable nozzle, so you can start with a nice wide-angle soft spray for the pre-soak, attach the detergent bottle for the soap stage, then narrow the nozzle for the high-pressure rinse just like you would at a coin-op car wash in the convenience of your driveway.

Being a lower pressure model, it’s lightweight at 16 pounds, which should still be easy enough to move around even though it lacks wheels.

Read More Top 10 Best Wheel and Tire Cleaners

8. Ryobi RY803111 Pressure Washer

ryobi one+ electric start gas pressure washer

If you need a more powerful washer for other household challenges or have a truck that you get REALLY dirty, you might want to skip directly to a more powerful gas model so you don’t need to keep separate pressure washers for different jobs.

But before you go out and buy the absolute most hardcore 10,000 PSI industrial pressure washer that can level a building, let us remind you that professional detailers recommend you don’t use anything more powerful than 1,500 psi for washing a vehicle. When using a pressure washer to clean your car or truck, make sure to use a nozzle that distributes the pressure more widely and won’t damage your paint, and stay back a foot or two from the car’s paint. Then again, if you hopped on the trend of covering your entire truck in bedliner, blast away.

One of the best pressure washers you can find anywhere on the market is the Ryobi RY803111. It’s not cheap, it’s not light, and it’s not quiet, but with 3,200 PSI it has all the pressure you would ever need for cleaning a vehicle or household chores and comes with four tips for different jobs. While it’s big and heavy, it features big, sturdy wheels and handle, so it’s easy to roll around, and since it runs on gas, you can take it anywhere you need to clean. A big plus is that instead of a pull cord to start, it has a rechargeable electric starter, so it’s just press and spray.

Read More Top 10 Best Car Wash Soaps

What is a Pressure Washer?

Photo Credit: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

A pressure washer is a household tool that attaches to your garden hose and seriously ramps up the force of the water spray to be able to peel off built-up dirt and stains. The functional part is some type of spray gun or wand, and they usually have various attachments for different types of cleaning tasks, from soap dispensers to power brushes. There are several different categories of pressure washers based on power source and strength. The two main types of pressure washers are gas and electric, and these two power sources also contribute to how much force it can generate.

Gas-powered washers are generally more powerful, starting from 2,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure, a measure of how powerful it is for blasting away dirt and stains. Household gas pressure washers can go up to over 4,000 PSI, but you are not likely to need anything that powerful for chores around the yard. Gas Pressure washers are generally more expensive, starting at about $300 and climbing into the thousands for the most powerful or specialized models. While powerful, they are heavy, loud and require maintenance and special storage because they contain gasoline. They also produce toxic emissions, so they should not be run indoors.

Aside from pressure, there is another measurement to consider: gallons per minute (GPM). GPM is a measure of flow, how much volume of water is used in a minute, and while PSI determines a washers ability to lift dirt and stains from the surface you’re cleaning, GPM determines its rinsing or removal ability, washing away all the gunk that’s been liberated. If you have a large patio, long fence, or siding on your youse that requires cleaning, a high flow will be helpful for getting the job done quickly.

Electric pressure washers are usually designed specifically for household use, and not industrial applications, so they are more likely to fulfill all your needs at a palatable price. Prices range from under a hundred to a few hundred dollars, and from just over 1,000 PSI to about 3,000 PSI, maxing out at about 2.0 GPM. Although not yet common, there are a few options for cordless, battery-powered electric assures, but pressure is limited, so while extremely portable, they are not yet competitive with plug-in electric models.

Electric washer owners are also advised to be particular about storage, as water left in the hoses and pumps can cause various failures, so use either a special additive or follow manufacturer instructions on proper storage.

Why do I Need a Pressure Washer to Clean my Car?

There are few things in life more satisfying than seeing the effortless progress of dirt being peeled away from your prized deck or patio by a stream of concentrated water – who would want to scrub a whole deck clean!? OK, I’m a little OCD about cleaning, but everybody should appreciate the ease and effectiveness of a good cleaning tool and well-maintained property.

Truly, pressure washers are invaluable for cleaning the many large surface areas around your yard that are tough enough to handle the pressure, especially wooden fences and decks, concrete driveways, flagstone patios, windows, and siding on your house. Also, while you may be inclined to just hose down your gardening tools with a regular hose, a pressure washer gets them next level clean, as it would for some outdoor furniture, but be careful with anything delicate like fabric or wicker. If you’re planning on painting exterior trim, it’s a great preliminary step before sanding as it lifts away all the flaking paint.

However, Consumer Reports reminds us that it’s easy to get carried away, and Dave Trezza, the CR test engineer that oversees pressure washer testing, notes: “You might be inclined to pressure-wash just about everything around the house, but that’s not always a great idea. The supercharged stream of water can damage paint and nick or etch wood and even certain types of stone.” 

With that warning in mind, a pressure washer can be a helpful time and energy saver – most common residential units use much less water than a regular garden hose, so you’re saving water, too.

When it comes to washing cars, it also beats scrubbing every square inch of your car by hand (unless you’re into that kind of thing – we get it), not to mention wheels and wheel wells – especially off-roaders back from muddy adventures or messy job sites, and a plain old garden hose just won’t get the really caked-on dirt and built-up grime off. Make sure you get a suitable car wash soap to go along with the pressure washer – most have soap dispensers built in or attachments that fit on the wand. To take it to the next level, also consider attachments with soft-cloth brushes that are powered by the force fo the water.

Which Pressure Washer is Best For Me?

Of course, of particular interest to us here at AutoGuide is a pressure washer’s merits as a car-cleaning tool. Some people will tell you never to use a pressure washer on a vehicle, but that is a little extreme, and many professional detailers use pressure washers for various functions. One professional detailer recommends you use no more than 1,500 PSI for cleaning your car, but cleaning concrete or patio stones requires more force, and it’s understandable if you only want to get one pressure washer for all the various uses you can think of around the yard. So, if you opt for something over 2,000 PSI, you’ll need to keep your distance from the car when using a narrow nozzle that produces the most powerful spray.

Now is the time to warn you against using the very narrow 0º nozzles that shoot a jet of incredibly concentrated force, as this can peel paint off your car, especially if it finds a rock chip or scratch that allows it to get under the top clear coat and peel those layers away. Powerful washers with this attachment could even do bodily harm. Make sure the pressure washer you get has some wider attachments like 25º and 40º, especially if you’ve gone the route of a more powerful washer over 2000 PSI. If you are looking for convenience more than specialization, consider a unit that offers a variable nozzle that can be twisted to adjust the spray rather than separate tips.

As mentioned above, gas powered pressure washers require extra maintenance and storage, plus they are loud, so we’d suggest you only go for those if you’re already running lawn mowers and other yardwork power tools on gasoline as you’ll need to keep gas and oil available whenever you run it.

For most homeowners, an electric pressure washer is as much as they’ll ever need, and you should simply weigh how much you should spend against how much and how often you plan to use it. To get more powerful models with more features, you’re going to spend more money, but if you only need something for occasional car wash and cleaning your patio furniture, an affordable light duty washer will do. If you have a large deck or patio and wooden fences, a more powerful model with longer hoses might be well worth the investment. The downside to electric models is that the reach of the extension cord limits how far they can reach, and you should never plug them in via extension cord.


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