Driving your vehicle through a fancy drive-through car wash is effective, and it’s even entertaining if you have little kids as passengers. However, there’s no denying that the cost adds up over time. Hand washing your vehicle at home is another great option but not everyone enjoys an afternoon in the sun meticulously scrubbing off every little spot.
A terrific middle ground for the person who wants a high-quality wash without the time commitments of hand scrubbing is a pressure washer. Maintaining a clean car does not only look better, but it actually helps preserve the life of the car and can ward off the threat of rust from built-up grime and salt.
- How to Choose the Best Pressure Washer
- Top 10 Best Pressure Washers for Cars 2021
- 1. Best Overall Electric Pressure Washer: Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer
- 2. Best Budget Power Washer: Greenworks GPW1602 Electric Pressure Washer
- 3. Best Premium Power Washer: Sun Joe SPX3500 Electric Pressure Washer
- 4. Most Powerful Pressure Washer: TEANDE 3800PSI Electric Pressure Washer
- 5. Best Gas Powered Washer: Simpson MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer
- 6. Tacklife 3300PSI Gas Pressure Washer
- 7. AR ANNOVI REVERBERI AR383SS Electric Pressure Washer
- 8. STANLEY FATMAX SXPW2823K Gas Pressure Washer
- 9. Karcher K2 Electric Pressure Washer
- 10. WORX WG625 Cordless Power Cleaner
- The Complete Guide to Purchasing a Pressure Washer for Your Vehicle
- How to Properly Power Wash Vehicles
- Final Thoughts
How to Choose the Best Pressure Washer
Owning your own pressure washer means you have the convenience of getting a perfect wash without even needing to leave your home. There are numerous washers on the market, each offering a different experience. Here are factors to consider before making a purchase.
Ease of Use
Think of who will be the primary user of the pressure washer and take that into consideration. Washers come in a range of weight, portability, and ease of operating.
Strength of Spray
Lightweight pressure washers are wonderful for small jobs around the house and minor maintenance sprays between car washes. They don’t pack the same punch as a more heavy-duty pressure washer which, while more versatile, is also more difficult to move around.
Gas or Electric?
Gas pressure washers have the convenience of being moved around without a wire tethering it to a limited area. Yet, electric washers mean you never have to remember to have the fuel on hand; you only need to plug it in. Gas pressure washers usually produce more power than electric ones, and are often more rugged and can handle more hazardous terrain. What’s more, the fact you don’t need to plug it in means you can take your gas pressure washer anywhere, while electric pressure washers will have to be anchored to a power source.
Pressure washers that use less water can still be very effective, and very economical. If you plan on using a pressure washer regularly, finding one that keeps the water usage to a minimum can save you money and help the environment.
For this guide we narrowed down our selection based on these characteristics so that you are able to select the most fitting pressure washer for your needs. While reading through our reviews, there are a few terms or initializations that you will need to understand:
- PSI – This stands for pounds per square inch. It refers to how powerful the stream of water that comes out of the hose of the pressure washer will be. The higher the number, the stronger the stream of water.
- GPM – This stands for gallons per minute. This is the total amount of water that is sprayed out each minute.
- HP – This stands for horsepower. This will only apply to gas-powered power washers and references the amount of power generated by the engine. A larger number here indicates a more powerful engine.
- Amp – This is short for amperage and is the term used to describe the strength of the electrical current in an electric pump or motor. A higher number here is a stronger pump.
After our list, we have a complete guide to choosing the right pressure washer at the bottom of this page. If you want more in-depth information before making a purchase, you can find it there. Now, let’s hose down that car and get it sparkling.
Top 10 Best Pressure Washers for Cars 2021
1. Best Overall Electric Pressure Washer: Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer
- Power Specs – 14.5 Amp/1800-watt motor. Up to 2030 PSI
- Water Usage – 1.76 GPM
- Type: Electric
For an easy-to-use, portable, affordable, yet powerful option, few pressure washers can compete with the Sun Joe washer. It is smaller than a typical gas pressure washer, and thus easy to move from project to project. Being small and portable makes it perfect for using on your car, truck, RV, or boat as you’re moving around. A powerful 14.5 Amp motor creating 1.76 GPM means it’ll handle even very tough stains.
This model has two separate detergent tanks, so you can use different cleaning products based on your particular needs. At the 0.9 liters each, the detergent tanks are not as big as you would find on larger pressure washer models. The fact that there are two of them, however, means that you have the convenience of switching between soaps for different parts of your project. For example, while washing your car, you can have your detergent for windows and windshields in one, while you keep the soap for the body
This machine is very easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of reading of the instructions to try and figure things out. That also means it’s quite light on features. As it is straightforward, even an inexperienced person can confidently tackle their power washing projects. If you are just looking for a pressure washer that is easy to use, affordable, and still powerful enough to really clean your vehicle, this is very likely the best option for you.
- Compact size makes it portable and easy to store
- Very easy to use
- Dual detergent containers
- Soap containers are not very large
- Light on features
2. Best Budget Power Washer: Greenworks GPW1602 Electric Pressure Washer
- Power Specs – 13 Amp. Up to 1600 PSI
- Water Usage – 1.3 GPM
- Type: Electric
If you are someone who likes to keep your car looking great with frequent washes, portability and ease of setup are crucial factors to consider in your washer. The Greenworks electric washer is an excellent choice for someone serious about keeping a clean car and it is also one of the most affordable machines on the market. While the price is quite low, the overall quality is still excellent. With 1600 PSI generating 1.2 GPM, it is more than sufficient for getting a quality clean on your car.
The hose is 20 feet, which is enough length to get around smaller vehicles but may not be enough slack to circle around larger trucks, boats, and RVs. Luckily, the unit is extremely lightweight and easy to move at only 17.5 lbs. It does not have a built-in detergent tank, but a soap applicator tip is easy to install and use. After applying the soap, you just have to switch back to whichever pressure tip you need for your project.
It’s on the quieter side while running and is certainly quieter than a gas-powered washer. While it does not boast the same strength as larger, more expensive pressure washers, it can, therefore, be used for small tasks around the house like washing patio furniture and house siding without fear of damage.
When you’re done with your project, this compact little pressure washer can easily be stored in a garage or shed while taking up too much space. The hose is quite short, however, which can be problematic when trying to get to some areas around the house. Those who only need it for washing vehicles will find that this may be the best deal on the market today. If you also want to use it to wash decks, homes, and other things, it may be best to find a washer with a little more power.
- Compact, portable, lightweight and a small footprint for storage
- Very affordable price
- Easy to switch between nozzles
- No detergent container
- Hose is only 20 feet long
- Power Specs – 13-amp. Up to 2300 PSI
- Water Usage – 1.48 GPM
- Type: Electric
Sun Joe is a great go-to pressure washer brand, and this is another, slightly more expensive, model of pressure washer that is an excellent, powerful machine. With 2300 PSI of cleaning power, it produces 1.48 GPM of water. This machine’s unique feature that makes it stick out from the rest is that it has an adjustable detergent dial to control how much soap you would like to dispense onto your working surface. This is ideal for people who wash their cars frequently and know which parts of the car would benefit from more or less detergent being applied.
Its 20-foot hose and 35-foot power cord coupled with its large “easy glide” wheels make it easy to move this heavier unit weighing in at 46.5lbs. We love that its weight, concentrated in the bottom of the machine, means that it does not tip over while you’re in the middle of using it, as can sometimes happen with lightweight plastic-body machines.
The “Total Stop System” means that the pump will shut off when the trigger isn’t being held to save energy and prevent the pump from being worn out. It comes with five different spray tips to suit your various needs and an onboard detergent tank with a capacity of 40.6 fluid ounces.
- Onboard storage for the hose and cord
- Easy and straightforward setup
- Pump stops when not in use to save energy
- “Total Stop System” minimizes use of electricity
- On the heavy side for an electric pressure washer
- Only a 20-foot hose
4. Most Powerful Pressure Washer: TEANDE 3800PSI Electric Pressure Washer
- Power Specs – 1800 Watt. Up to 3800 PSI.
- Water Usage – 2.8 GPM
- Type: Gas
This electric pressure washer has a powerful 1800-Watt motor generating up to 3800 psi and a GPM rate of 2.8. It is an excellent tool for washing your car, but with that kind of force, it’s also versatile enough for other outdoor projects like fences and patio furniture. It can even be used to power wash your deck or home! It comes with five nozzles for different spray patterns. They are easy to connect and give you options depending on the task you are tackling.
One of the great features of this model is that the body of the machine has a storage compartment for these nozzles and all accessories. The hose is only 6 meters (about 18 feet) long, which might not be quite as much as is needed for larger vehicles. The machine is on wheels for easy mobility, but the wheels are hard plastic, which can make it hard to pull or push through grass or other uneven surfaces.
The power cord, however, is sufficiently long for nearly any task you have in mind at 35 feet. The sleek-looking body comes in green and blue and has a simple, accessible appearance. The ease of use cannot be overstated; it is a very straightforward machine. Despite the impressive power that this machine produces, it is still very quiet thanks to the fact that it uses an electric motor.
- Compact and extremely easy to use for just about anyone
- Sleek, simple, attractive looking unit
- Excellent performance for most household jobs like cars, decks, and walkways
- Nozzles need to be switched for different jobs, as opposed to just adjusting a handle on the wand.
- Plastic wheels, as opposed to tubes or rubber.
5. Best Gas Powered Washer: Simpson MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer
- Power Specs – 6HP. 3200 PSI
- Water Usage – 2.5 GPM
- Type: Gas
If you are eager to tackle heavy cleaning projects while also having a unit that works perfectly for a lower pressure job such as your automobile, consider the Simpson MegaShot gasoline pressure washer. This machine boasts a Honda engine, so you can count on it being reliable and long-lasting. However, since it’s a gas engine, it’s quite loud.
While many pressure washers have plastic parts, including plastic wands, this washer has only heavy-duty metal, so it can handle being used for all kinds of projects without fear of causing much damage. The metal frame of the unit completely surrounds the engine, making it able to trek out into all kinds of terrain with you.
This portability is made even easier with its enormous tire wheels. Because it is a heavy machine at 55lbs, the wheels are terrific for making it simple and painless to move around your yard or project area. For washing your car, it has a 25-foot hose, allowing for an easy time getting around your vehicle. This hose is also engineered to be kink and abrasion-resistant. It comes with five easy-to-used nozzle tips for various jobs.
This model, unlike many others, does not have a built-in tank for detergent. While that may be a turn off for some, it may also be a time-saving feature. The pressure washer comes with a clear hose that can be directly inserted into your detergent, so you can actually use the detergent’s original container; no pouring or measuring needed!
- Comes assembled and is almost ready to use out the box
- Powerful and therefore versatile for all kinds of projects, not just your car
- Long, durable, kink-resistant hose
- Large fuel tank to keep you working without interruption
- No built-in detergent tanks
- Since it is a powerful, gas engine, it’s loud
- Power Specs – 6.5HP. 3300PSI
- Water Usage – 2.6 GPM
- Type: Gas
For the serious do-it-yourselfer, this pressure washer is a tool unlike any other. Yes, it will efficiently clean your vehicle, but it can also clean just about anything else imaginable with its remarkable 3300 PSI at 2.6 GPM. Its price tag is higher than most, but there is no questioning the quality and durability behind this machine. It comes with five nozzle attachments to meet the needs of various projects.
The large detergent tank holds a full gallon, so you will not be constantly interrupted by the need for refills as you wash. Likewise, the gas tank is 3.8 liters, meaning you are free to roam for a long period of time without having to worry about a power cord getting in your way.
Weighing in at 77.16lbs, it’s comparable to other heavy-duty gas-powered washers, but its portability is still made easy by its huge, 12-inch wheels. Its 30-foot hose is engineered to last with its three layers of durable material to be flexible and wear-resistant.
Another bonus of this model is that the spray gun is metal instead of plastic, making it last longer. If you only want to pressure wash your car, this washer would definitely be overkill. But if you are looking to wash your car while also maintaining a spotless home and property, this Tacklife pressure washer is a hard model to beat.
- Packs an enormous punch at 3300 PSI
- Suitable for any pressure washing jobs
- Large one-gallon detergent tank
- Heavyweight machine makes it a little harder to take out on a whim
- One of the more expensive power washers on the market
- Power Specs – 13-amp motor. 1900 PSI.
- Water Usage – 1.3 GPM
- Type: Electric
For a compact, powerful pressure washer that will allow mobility around your larger vehicles, the AR Annovi Reverberi Electric pressure washer may be the one for you. This washer is compact yet powerful delivering 1900 PSI at 1.3 GPM. The 30-foot flexible hose coupled with a 35-foot power cord means you can easily move around your workspace or maneuver around larger trucks or boats with the 33lb unit. However, while in use, you must unwind the entire length of the host to attach at both ends.
One of the things that really stood out to us was the durability and accessibility. While many power washers have plastic pieces or converters for the hose, this Annovi model uses metal for all the heavy wear pieces, so you will be happy pressure washing with this machine for years to come. Because this is a mid-sized electric washer, you are sure to have the power you need for most at-home washing projects.
At the same time, it is small enough for nearly anyone to easily use, move, and store without hassle. While it may be small, it does have a lot of power capacity, so be careful not to cause damage when starting out. The attachments that come with this model include a washer gun, a wand, detergent tank (28oz. capacity), and four different pressure nozzles.
With the impressive power and long list of features, we expected this to be priced quite a bit higher. It offers great value at its price point.
- Size strikes a balance between powerful and portable
- Surprisingly affordable
- Metal parts used for all key areas
- The hose reel is for storage when not in use.
- Power Specs – 4.3HP. 2800 PSI
- Water Usage – 2.3 GPM
- Type: Gas
For powerful pressure washer that you can use for all kinds of projects around the house, including your vehicle, consider the Stanley Fatmax pressure washer. With an efficient 2.3 GPM, it is a good option for smaller projects and bigger endeavors alike. Switching between different levels of pressure is made easy by a simple twist of the pressure adjustment handle.
Its hose is a durable kink-resistant material and the body is engineered to be resistant to corrosion. KOHLER manufactures the engine, ensuring a powerful and long-lasting lifespan on this pressure washer. Something unique about this model is that the front panel has an easy to reference image to instruct you as to which pressure you ought to be using for your given project, ranging from gentle to abrasive. It helps remove the effort of thinking when embarking on a task.
With this powerful machine, your car will likely only need a “gentle” spray. The convenient soap reservoir is accessible and has a very large capacity; up to a gallon of detergent will fit. If you are worried about the difficulty of starting the engine with a gas-powered washer and prefer the ease of an electric start, do not be too quick to eliminate the Stanley Fatmax as an option. This washer has been fitted with KOHLER’s “Easy-Pull” technology to get you up and running on the very first pull.
Of course, with such a powerful engine, it is also on the heavy side. But standing at 35.5 inches tall with large, 12-inch “never flat” wheels, it is still able to be wheeled around with relative ease.
- Versatile for more than just your car
- Thoughtfully engineered to be long-lasting
- Easy pull technology for easy starting
- The engine is loud, as gas washers tend to be
- A powerful engine means it will use quite a bit of gas
- Power Specs – 120 Volts. 1600 PSI
- Water Usage – 1.25 GPM
- Type: Electric
Weighing only 16.8lbs, this Karcher K2 electric washer is ideal for frequent use when you want to get out and start washing without a lot of setup time. It is also perfect for anyone to use, no matter how strong they are, because it’s so easy to use and lightweight, while still having more than enough power to get a professional-grade wash on your car. For being such a small machine, you will be surprised by its 1600 PSI producing 1.25 GPM.
One of the best features about buying this machine is the accessories that are included to make cleaning your car and home a breeze. A large surface cleaning attachment is excellent for cleaning surfaces like driveways and patios without producing cumbersome backsplash that leaves you soaking wet. The detergent foamer included in the bundle produces a thick lather of foamy soap to spray on your work surface. It includes two detergents: a multipurpose detergent (for decks, driveways, and the like,) and a detergent specifically for vehicles.
The included soft bristle brush guarantees you will not scratch your car, while the surface cleaner attachment is suitable for more intense jobs. While there is certainly a lot to love about this power washer, some of the included attachments aren’t as durable as they should be. These parts have to be very strong to withstand the high pressure, and the type of plastic used may not be up to the job in all cases.
- Good selection of accessories, especially for washing your car
- Lightweight and thus accessible for nearly anyone to use
- Very quiet even when operating at max power
- Plastic attachments are not very durable
- Power Specs – 20 Volt. 320 PSI
- Water Usage – .53 GPM
- Type: Battery
While this model certainly differs from a traditional electric or gas-powered pressure washer, it is still a terrific option for a washer that will leave you with a shining clean car, truck, boat, or RV. It delivers five times the amount of pressure that a regular garden hose nozzle provides.
That said, It is not nearly as powerful as a traditional pressure washer and isn’t suitable for larger jobs like pressure washing a deck or driveway. Yet its portability and variety of water source options make it a great option specifically for cleaning vehicles.
It can be used with a simple garden hose or, using the included hose, it can draw water from sources like lakes, ponds, or a bucket of water. It delivers 320 PSI and produces a flow of 0.53 GPM. Avid car washers will appreciate that there is no threat to damaging their vehicles while still getting a powerful spray.
Customers who are avid campers love this product because it is portable and easy to keep in your truck and RV or camper so you can clean throughout your journey. It is also great for spraying off patio furniture and dirty boots while camping.
Having a battery as a power source means you can go virtually anywhere there’s water without needing an electric plug or heavy gas engine. It takes around 5 hours for the 20V battery to charge, so it takes some foresight to make sure you are powered up before spraying. While we certainly love the convenience of this machine, it would be nice if the battery lasted longer. If you plan on using this regularly, it makes sense to invest in an extra battery pack or two.
- Extremely portable and lightweight
- Can use water from nearly any freshwater source
- Perfect for camping
- Not as versatile as traditional pressure washers
- Battery life is to short
The Complete Guide to Purchasing a Pressure Washer for Your Vehicle
A pressure washer is one of those tools that you might not think you need until you realize what they are capable of. And once you start using one, it will not be long before you’ll be addicted to using it on your vehicles, your home, and anywhere else that could use a good cleaning. If you are a home and vehicle owner, you will almost certainly use a pressure washer enough to justify making a purchase rather than renting one when it is needed.
Most traditional pressure washers attach to your outdoors garden hose to boost your water pressure and allow you to accomplish all kinds of tasks around your home and property.
The most common uses include washing vehicles (including, cars, trucks, RVs, boats), the walls of a house, cement driveways, fences, and decks. It does not just clean, but also makes for an indispensable preparation tool before staining or painting surfaces.
There are a variety of attachments available for different models of pressure washers to help make your tasks as easy as possible. Many of these come with the washers, but there are often numerous other aftermarket accessories available as well.
Now that you know the basics of what a pressure washer is and what it can be used for, it is time to learn about some of the specific options you will find on pressure washers. In each of the following cases it is important to note that one option is not necessarily better than another, just different. Understanding each option will help you to choose the one that is best for your particular situation.
Gasoline vs. Electricity
The main category differentiating different types of pressure washers is based on how they are powered. The two traditional means of power are electric pressure washers and gasoline-powered pressure washers. In general, a gas-powered pressure washer will be more powerful than an electric one. This is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). A gas-powered pressure washer can deliver upwards of 4,000 PSI, which is extremely powerful.
The average home and vehicle owner will not need that much force for accomplishing most tasks such as blasting off grime and dirt or prepping a surface for paint or stain. High-end electric pressure washers can still produce a very strong stream of water, which is more than enough to clean any vehicle. When deciding whether to get either a gas or an electric washer, make sure to think about these factors:
- Noise – Gas-powered pressure washers are much louder than electric.
- Convenience – There are no cords needed for a gas-powered washer, but you do have to make sure to keep plenty of fuel available.
- Weight – Gas-powered washers tend to be significantly heavier than electric.
Another important thing to consider is how efficient the pressure washer will be. There are several different areas where this will be important. The first measurement to pay attention to is the gallons per minute (GPM). This measures how much water flows from the machine in a given minute. This is helpful for efficiently cleaning and rinsing away whatever dirt or other surface debris has been lifted by the intense pressure. A higher GPM machine uses more water, which can help to quickly wash away the dirt and debris on your vehicle or other surface. Using more water than you need to get the job done, on the other hand, is wasteful.
The next thing to look at is how much energy a machine is going to use. This will be measured in watts for electric pressure washers and fuel for gas-powered options. In general, the more powerful a machine is, the more energy is needed. Having a pressure washer that is more powerful than you need for a job is wasteful and will increase the cost of ownership over time. Choosing a model that has the level of power you need, but not too much, is important for efficient operations.
How to Properly Power Wash Vehicles
No matter which model you choose it is important that you use your power washer properly to clean your vehicles. We all know that keeping a clean, well-maintained car promotes the longevity of the car’s exterior and keeps rust and build-up at bay. Using a pressure washer is a great way to clean many areas of a vehicle, as long as you do it properly.
Cleaning the Body of the Vehicle
Most pressure washers have specialty soap foaming “canons” to apply a thick lather to your car which helps loosen the stuck-on grime. If you are someone who camps or boats, consider the ease with which you can clean your RV, camper, and boat using a pressure washer. To clean the exterior surfaces of your vehicles you simply fill up the detergent containers on the pressure washer (or attach the soap dispensing attachment) and begin spraying it on the exterior of your vehicle. It is typically recommended to use between 1200 and 2500 PSI settings when washing your vehicle.
There are many types of detergents specific to power washing vehicles that you should consider for the task. Just make sure that the soap is compatible for use with pressure washers and begin the job. Once you have sprayed the entire surface of the vehicle with the soapy water, turn off the soap dispenser and start using clean water to rinse. You can use a higher-pressure stream of water to get the soap off at first. When ready, it is generally recommended to use a low-pressure setting for the final rinse to help avoid water spots.
Washing the Wheels
Wheels can get dirty very quickly. To make it worse, the dirt and debris that gets on the wheels are often very difficult to get off. When you are ready to wash your wheels and tires, you will want to turn the pressure up to at least 1500 PSI and spray them down. You can purchase soaps that are designed specifically for washing wheels and tires if you choose, but simply spraying them with water is often enough to get them looking nice.
Washing the Engine
A clean engine is just as important as cleaning the rest of your car. Many people don’t realize this, but power washing your engine is actually quite good for a vehicle, as long as it is done properly. First, make sure your engine is off and completely cooled down. Next, set your power washer to a lower PSI (1200 or lower) and use a wide spraying nozzle. Begin spraying down the entire engine area to remove any leaves, twigs, small rocks, and other items that can get trapped in the area. This should all be done from above the engine spraying down so any debris falls out the bottom.
One of the most important aspects of washing your engine is getting rid of any built-up grease. To do this, add a degreasing detergent to the soap dispenser and use that while spraying the engine. Finally, rinse it off again with clean water. The engine will dry on its own through evaporation, or you can drive it around so that the heat and wind get rid of all the excess water.
The most important thing to consider before making your purchase is to ask yourself what you will actually be using the pressure washer for and how often you will use it. Will you simply use it a few times per year to clean your vehicle? Or will you use it weekly on your car and each season to wash your siding, decking, and other items?
For simply washing the car and the occasional small task like washing garden tools, a mid-grade electric pressure washer, such as our top pick, would be ideal and will not break the bank. For someone hoping to frequently maintain their siding, cement, and decks or fences, a more powerful electric or gas pressure washer, such as this one, would fit the bill.
Take into consideration the length of the power cord on whichever electric model you consider to make sure it would be suitable to reach your desired work area. In the end, purchasing a good quality power washer is almost always a great investment that will help you to keep your cars and your home looking their best.