Although there are many pressure washer brands and types, they all work in a similar way. A pressure washer consists of a few main parts: intake pump, motor pump, pressure hose, gun, and sprayer. The intake valve is attached to a garden hose, which supplies the water. When the pressure washer is turned on, the motor powers the pump, which pressurizes the water. This water shoots through the pressure hose on the way to the gun, where it’s blocked and stops the motor. But once the trigger is pulled, the motor starts again and water fires out of the spray wand at high speed. Below is our guide on the best pressure washer for car.
Related Questions / Contents
- The Best Pressure Washer for Car
- 1. Karcher K2 Plus Electric Power Pressure Washer
- 2. Ivation Electric Pressure Washer (2,200 PSI; 1.8 GPM)
- 3. GreenWorks GPW1501 Electric Pressure Washer (1,500 PSI; 1.2 GPM)
- 4. AR Blue Clean AR390SS Electric Pressure (2,000 PSI; 1.4 GPM)
- 5. SIMPSON Cleaning MSH3125-S Gas Pressure Washer (3,100 PSI; 2.5 GPM)
- 6. Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer (2,030 PSI; 1.76 GPM)
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The Best Pressure Washer for Car
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1. Karcher K2 Plus Electric Power Pressure Washer
Karcher is a brand that has been around for many years and is recognized by both amateurs and professionals. They have a vast catalog of products for consumer, commercial and industrial use.
The K2 Plus sums up Karcher’s promise: cleaner and quicker. It is easy to move since it has 6.3” rear wheels, a firmly fixed handle, and weighs only 16.8 lbs. A 35’ power cord lets you cover a wide area.
Included with this washer are several spray wands you can switch, depending on the task you need to complete. One is called a Vario spray wand and lets you adjust the water pressure. Changing between low and high pressures—and everything in between—is as easy as turning the wand collar.
The other is a Dirtblaster Spray wand. If you are struggling to get rid of a stubborn stain, use this wand and it will increase the effective pressure by up to 50%. It will generate 30 times more pressure than your garden hose.
The Ks Plus uses a N-COR pump that is durable, non-corrosive, and maintenance-free. A built-in safety valve will be activated if there is any pressure overload. Another protection feature is the ground fault circuit interrupter. If you are using the washer and there is a change of voltage in your power supply, the machine will shut off automatically. You can reset this circuit protection by pressing a button if it has been activated.
The pressure washer’s motor will only turn on when you squeeze the trigger. This is great for saving electricity and water.
- Affordable price
- The handle is pretty high, which means you won’t need to constantly bend over when you need to move it around
- 2-year guaranty
It has a plastic hose connector. You’d be better off replacing it with a metal one
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2. Ivation Electric Pressure Washer (2,200 PSI; 1.8 GPM)
The Ivation washer uses a powerful 14.5-amp 1,600-watt motor that creates enough water pressure to get rid of practically any dirt or stain. You can use it just like any other pressure washer, where you connect your garden hose to it, but this machine has a peculiar feature. If you have a source of standing water, like a well, basin, or tank, it can suck up the water and use it for pressure washing. The water flow will be a bit slower than when the unit is connected to a running water supply, but it will be more than enough to get the task finished.
The machine includes five interchangeable nozzles that are quick to connect and remove:
- Foam nozzle—perfect for spraying soap suds over large areas.
- 40° angle nozzle—safe for delicate surfaces.
- 25° angle nozzle—use it for removing tough grime and dirt
- 15° angle nozzle—delivers more power to finish the job
- 0° angle nozzle—use it for maximum strength. It can clean cement, remove old paint, and remove burnt debris from your grill
This pressure washer is perfect for washing your car. It has a built-in soap tank, and you can use the included soap nozzle to create a bubbly foam that will get rid of any mud and tar.
There is also a turbo spray wand that spins out a full-pressure stream of water powerful enough to reach second stories. The motor will shut off when the gun’s trigger is not pressed. A set of wheels, a convenient handle, and a 35’ cable make moving the washer easy.
- The easy-to-use system requires just 30-second setup
- Very powerful, yet delicate enough to safely wash your car.
- Well built; feels quite sturdy
- Since it uses a powerful motor, the machine is kind of loud
- Would be great if it included a funnel to pour the soap into the tank without spilling it
3. GreenWorks GPW1501 Electric Pressure Washer (1,500 PSI; 1.2 GPM)
With 1,500 PSI, this washer delivers a stream that will blast through any dirt. It has been certified by the Pressure Washer Manufacturers’ Association, which ensures that the maximum pressure and water flow rates are accurate.
You will get 2 quick-connect nozzles: a 25° and a 40°. This lets you decide how wide you want your water stream to be, depending on the kind of cleaning you need to do.
The washer is pretty compact at 11.4” tall and weighing 17.5 lbs. It has a carrying handle and wheels for easy transportation. One unique feature is that you can use it vertically or horizontally, which gives you better stability when using it.
The hose is 20’ and it is reinforced and designed to prevent wear and tear. It will leave no scuff marks on clean surfaces. The power cord is 35’ long and has a built-in GFCI.
If you want to wash your car or any other surface, this GreenWorks pressure washer includes a detergent tank. Fill it up with soap and easily wash away any dirt.
- For the price, you can’t beat this value
- GreenWorks customer service has a reputation for being top-notch
- Easy to assemble
The connector for the hose can leak sometimes
4. AR Blue Clean AR390SS Electric Pressure (2,000 PSI; 1.4 GPM)
The AR Blue Clean is robust, durable, and reliable. It is manufactured by a company that has over 50 years of pump-building experience.
This pressure washer comes with two nozzles that are easy to connect and remove. The green nozzle is 25° and sprays the water like a fan; it is ideal for washing windows. The red nozzle is 0° and will spray water in a powerful, narrow stream. If you have any tough cleaning jobs, use the rotary/turbo nozzle to increase the effective pressure spray up to 50%.
Another nozzle that is in included is a black one, designed to spray soap. As with other similar models, you fill-up the integrated 40-oz. detergent tank and get ready to wash. However, this power washer has a great feature: It will usually pull a ratio of water to detergent of 10:1—10 parts water to 1 part detergent—but there is a knob you can turn to adjust this ratio. Need a more concentrated ratio? Turn the knob to the right. Need more water than detergent? Turn the knob to the left.
With a 30’ high-pressure hose and a 35’ power cord, you can clean all around the house with no problems. The unit includes a hose reel for quick storage
- One-year “Bumper-to-Bumper” warranty
- US-based customer service by email, online chat or phone
- Professional-level cleaning results
- Brass/aluminum fittings
- When you unravel the pressure washer’s hose, you have to get a grip of the machine’s body or else it can tip over
5. SIMPSON Cleaning MSH3125-S Gas Pressure Washer (3,100 PSI; 2.5 GPM)
Gas-pressure washers are ideal if you need the extra power that electric models aren’t able to deliver.
This one includes five nozzles: 0° for a powerful pinpoint spray that is perfect for cleaning hard, unpainted surfaces; 15° for cleaning grills, brick walkways and concrete driveways; 25° for most applications; 40° for cleaning delicate surfaces; and a low-pressure nozzle that applies soap or detergent and is safe for all surfaces.
The 25’ hose is designed to prevent kinks and resists abrasion. One good detail is that the pressure washer is powered by Honda. The motor is easy to start and meets EPA and CARB emission standards. It is also fuel-efficient, thanks to the compact combustion chamber.
The power washer’s body is sturdy and durable, with a welded steel frame; 10” pneumatic wheels are a welcomed feature since it does weigh 74 lbs.
The Simson MSH3125-S is perfect for residential and commercial use, and its Honda GC190 OHC motor is backed by a 2-year warranty.
- Axial cam pump is maintenance-free
- Onboard storage for nozzles, hose, and spray gun
- The metal frame on this pressure washer surrounds the engine and pump housing. This protects them from accidental damage.
- Doesn’t have a tank for detergent
- As you might expect, it is a bit noisy
6. Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer (2,030 PSI; 1.76 GPM)
As with similar models, the Sun Joe pressure washer includes 5 removable spray tips to tackle light-, medium- and heavy-duty cleaning. The pump will automatically shut off when the trigger is not engaged. This saves energy and prolongs the pump’s life.
One feature that makes this pressure washer stand out is that it has dual detergent tanks. You fill one up with one kind of soap, and the other with a different one. Perfect to tackle different cleaning projects without having to stop everything until you empty the soap tank and fill it up again; you switch between them using a handy detergent selection dial.
The pressure washer has a 20’ high-pressure hose and a 35’ power cord.
- Having two detergent tanks is definitely a great advantage
- Backed by a 2-year warranty
- Unit is extremely quiet
- Garden hose adapter is made from plastic
- Many similar pressure washers include a turbo head spray nozzle. This one doesn’t; it is available for purchase as a separate accessory
Best Pressure Washer for Car Buying Guide
How does pressure washer work?
It all starts with the trigger. As soon as the trigger is pulled, the motor starts spinning fast. It turns an angled metal plate thousands of times per minute. As the plate turns, its thick end forces the pistons to descend one after the other. Those pistons are spring-loaded, so as the thick end of that angle plate turns away from them, the springs push them back up to their starting point. As they rise, they pull water into the washer through a set of one-way valves but don’t let it out.
As the plate forces the pistons down again they press down on the water. But according to the laws of physics, water cannot be compressed, so it pushes against the walls of the pump. That pushing applies pressure, and when water is pressurized, its nature is to head to the zone of lowest pressure, which in this case is through another one-way valve into the pressure hose. The water jets through the hose to the gun and is funneled through a final valve. It then heads for the nozzle at the far end of the spray wand. The spray wand directs the cleaning power by controlling the width of the jet.
A pressure washer uses water to maximum effect because of all the pressure created on its journey and because its stream is directed precisely at the dirt. It actually uses very little water to do its work, with nothing more than a motorized pump, some valves, a hose, and a mastery of fluid dynamics. A pressure washer can deliver over 70 times more cleaning power than a regular garden hose while using 80% less water.
How to choose a pressure washer?
Pressure washers are divided into four categories: light, medium, heavy-duty, and professional. You should select the model that suits the kind of jobs you want to do.
- Light-duty pressure washers are good for general cleanings. They are ideal for washing cars and cleaning patio furniture
- Medium-duty pressure has more power, so they are best for heavier cleaning, like fences, driveways or decks
- Heavy-duty pressure washers can be used for stripping paint and second-story cleaning
- Professional pressure washers are meant to be used for many hours every day and can cost a lot. You probably won’t need one of these.
To get a better idea of the cleaning power a pressure washer has, you need to focus on two things: PSI and GPM.
PSI, or pounds per square inch, is the amount of pressure the machine’s motor can achieve. The higher it is, the easier it will be to break up and wash away the dirt. An average light-duty washer could have a PSI of up to 1,700. A heavy-duty one, on the other hand, could reach 3,200 psi, or even more.
GPM, or gallons per minute, is the amount of water that is flowing through the washer’s nozzle. This is a good factor to use when comparing pressure washers. Two products might have the same PSI, but if one has a higher GPM, it will get the job done faster.
When you multiply the GPM flow and the PSI rating you get a cleaning unit rating or CU. A light-duty pressure washer has a CU score of 2,380. A heavy-duty gas pressure washer has a CU score of 8,320.
Gas or electric?
There are two kinds of pressure washers to choose from.
Electric pressure washers are easy to use. Since there is no fuel to add, they need little maintenance. They’re ideal for light- and medium-duty cleaning and use an indirect pump drive with a simple design that delivers a consistent performance. One advantage is that they are quieter and lighter than gas washers.
Gas pressure washers have powerful motors and can provide much higher water pressures than any electric model, so they are ideal for medium- and heavy-duty work. They are very sturdy machines with great mobility.
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