The Best Power Washers for Cars: How to Find Them and Which to Buy?

The Best Power Washers for Cars: How to Find Them and Which to Buy?

Cleaning your car is a necessary part of vehicle maintenance, but it’s hardly the most enjoyable task. While taking your vehicle to the car wash every time it needs a deep scouring is one option, a power washer is just as effective in keeping your prized possession spotless—and it’s much more economical in the long run.

If you’re new to the world of power washers for cars, you may be surprised to find out that the options are endless. To help narrow down your search and provide some valuable information about what to look for, we’ve put together this guide so you can find a power washer that’s the perfect balance of power, precision, and price.

Bottom Line Up Front

Speaking of power, precision, and price, we can’t go any further without mentioning the Sun Joe SPX3000, our pick for the best pressure washer for cars. Sun Joe has 2030 PSI that will get your vehicle spic and span in no time at all. This model is well loved for its excellent cleaning abilities and comes with a fantastic 2-year warranty.

We’ll take a closer look at the Sun Joe below, but keep in mind that your needs might be different, so be sure to read about all of our picks for the best power washers for cars. We’ll discuss each one, provide an overview of the different types of power washers, and talk about what features to look for in our handy buyer’s guide.

The Different Types of Power Washers: Functional Capability

car wash

We break down power washers into three categories based on their functional capabilities: light, medium, and heavy duty.

Each of these types of power washers has different pressure capabilities, or PSI, which are all suitable for various applications. We’ll talk about PSI in the next section, but for now, let’s take a closer look at the functional capabilities of light, medium, and heavy-duty power washers.

Light Duty Power Washers

You can find light duty power washers in the range of 1300 to 1900 PSI. They are either electric or gas-powered and are perfect for cars and motorcycles. If car washing is your primary focus, choose a power washer in this category, which will cover your needs just fine. They’re also suitable for simple home applications like cleaning decks.

Medium Duty Power Washers

Medium duty pressure washers have a PSI from 2000 to 2800, and they can still be used for cars, though they’re more appropriate for bigger vehicles like SUVs or sedans. Gas pressure washers tend to be better choices for this pressure range, but electric ones work well, too.

You can use medium duty pressure washers for other more heavy-duty applications around the house, such as cleaning pools or fences, though this category starts to be more for professionals than the average person.

Heavy Duty Power Washers

If you only need a power washer for your car, avoid heavy-duty pressure washers. At more than 2900 PSI, they provide too much pressure for a regular vehicle. Professionals use them to clean things like large trucks and for other types of heavy-duty applications beyond the use of an average individual.

The Different Types of Power Washers: Power

electric pressure washer

Pressure is one way to categorize power washers, and power type is another. The two main power types are electric and gas. You can also purchase hydraulic and diesel-powered models, but since most individuals will do best with either an electric or gas version, we’re going to focus on these two.

Electric

Electric power washers are your safest bet for car washing purposes. With a PSI of up to 2000, electric power washes are ideal for this application.

People like them because they are easy to operate. They run on electricity, so all you have to do is plug them into an electrical outlet or generator and push a button to start the power washer. They are also light, making transporting them around your yard or driveway easy.

Gas

Gas power washers are another popular option. They have a much higher PSI, which makes them better indicated for medium to heavy applications, but they generally have a few downsides that make them less favorable.

Gas power washers require you to buy gas, which can be inconvenient. They also require more maintenance, as you have to purchase oil and service them to keep them running correctly. In general, yanking on the pull string to start it can be challenging for some people, and these units consume more water, making them less eco-friendly.

How to Find the Best Power Washers: Buyer’s Guide

Power washers come with a variety of features. We recommend looking carefully at each of the following features when purchasing a power washer to make sure it fits your needs. These features also form the criteria we used to select our top models, and we’ll discuss how our picks stack up in each of these categories.

Pressure

By now, you’ve probably figured out that pressure is an essential feature in power washers. You need just the right amount of pressure to be able to clean the car sufficiently without damaging it. As we mentioned above, light duty power washers (and some medium duty ones) are best for vehicles.

You must know the pressure measurement before purchasing one, which is expressed in PSI, or pounds per square inch. In general, the higher the PSI, the great power the unit will have. For vehicles like cars, trucks, and boats, the ideal PSI is somewhere around 2000.

Detergent Tank vs. Foam Cannon

foam car wash

All power washers come with a detergent tank that mixes soap and water to clean the car. The problem with the detergent tank, and a reason that many people decide to purchase a foam cannon attachment is that the detergent tank produces very little foam.

Since the foam is what removes dirt, you may notice your car isn’t as clean as you’d like if you only use a detergent tank. The foam cannon clicks straight on to your power washer and produces lots of foam using a combination of more detergent and less water.

This combination is excellent at removing dirt and leaves minimal soap residue, which is vital in achieving that clean look with no spots. So while a foam cannon isn’t strictly necessary, it can help you attain spotlessness.

Portability

Another thing to keep in mind is portability, and this is really more of a competition between electric and gas power washers. Gas power washers tend to be much heavier and more difficult to maneuver, which is why the lightweight and easy to move electric models come out on top for portability.

Water Usage

A power washer’s GPM or gallons per minute, specifications tell you about consumption. High GPM means that the machine consumes more water per minute, but high GPM also leaves your car cleaner. The average car pressure washer uses around 7 to 9 gallons of water per minute.

Cord and Hose Length

Cord length is an essential consideration for electric power washers. The cord should be long enough to reach an outlet while at the same time being far away enough from the water to maintain safety.

Hose length should also be just right. In other words, the hose should be long enough not to knock over the pressure washer but short enough that it’s not in your way.

Nozzles

Lastly, your power washer can’t work properly without the right nozzle. Certain areas of the car are more delicate (think rearview mirrors), and being able to regulate the spray width with an adjustable nozzle helps protect these sensitive spots. You can also find replaceable nozzles to give you more spray options.

Best Power Washes for Cars: Our Picks

We’ve already told you that our top pick for the best power washer is the Sun Joe SPX3000, but now it’s time to lake a closer look at this model and all the power washers that made our list to find out exactly why that is.

1. Sun Joe SPX3000 Pressure Joe

sun joe

 

We’re kicking off this roundup with the winner, which has become a highly popular model in recent years thanks to its impressive offering of features, as well as its reasonable price tag. As we mentioned, it’s got a 2-year warranty, and it’s also CSA approved, so you know it’s a reliable product.

Some of its specifications include:

  • Dual detergent tanks
  • 2030 PSI
  • 31 pounds
  • 1.76 GPM
  • 35-foot power cord
  • 5 Amp/1800-watt motor

The Sun Joe SPX3000 has a removable dual tank system, which means that you can simultaneously fill tanks with whatever different cleaning agents are best suited to the tasks at hand. It’s also easy to fill the containers with detergents since you can remove them from the unit.

In terms of cleaning power, the 1800-watt motor and 2030 PSI are excellent at removing dirt. The SPX3000 comes with multiple spray tips that you can set to 0, 15, 25, and 40 degrees, so it’s adaptable to a wide range of applications. The 20-foot high-pressure hose extends your reach, as does the 35-foot power cord.

And it also includes the Total Stop System, a handy safety feature that automatically shuts off the pump if the trigger is not engaged. All in all, the Sun Joe SPX3000 provides great value for money and is excellent at meeting the needs of practically any car owner.

Pros:

  • Dual detergent tanks offer a more extensive range of cleaning options
  • Includes five interchangeable nozzles
  • Has long power cable, allowing you to clean in a variety of places

Cons:

  • Some plastic fittings prone to leakage
  • No assembly instructions included

2. Greenworks GPW1501

green works

We had to include the Greenworks GPW1501 because it’s widely regarded as one of the cheapest models available, while still offering plenty of features that make it an excellent power washer. This low-profile model will take care of all of your car pressure washer needs, making it perfect for those on a budget.

Some of its specifications include:

  • 1500 PSI
  • 1.2 GPM
  • 50-foot extension cord
  • 14-gauge cord
  • 13 amp universal motor

Don’t be fooled by its 13-amp motor. With 1500 PSI, the Greenworks GPW1501 can handle car cleaning just fine. It’s got a 25 and 40-degree quick connect tip, so if you need to change your approach to a project, you can do so easily.

It also comes with a detergent bottle placed under the trigger handle, which sprays detergent at low pressure.

One issue we do want to mention is that the GPW1501 can only be used vertically, so if you have needs beyond vertical use, you should look for a different power washer. Some users also report that it’s a bit loud, which is something to keep in mind.

Greenworks backs this model with a 1-year warranty.

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Very lightweight, making it easy to maneuver
  • Price is very accessible

Cons:

  • Can only be used vertically
  • Water flow may fall a bit short for some car owners

3. Karcher K5 Premium Electric Power Washer

karcher

If you don’t mind laying down some cash for your power washer, the Karcher K5 packs a lot of power. Designed to stand up to the needs of even the most robust residential use, including car washing, you’ll get many years of use out of this model that’s known to get things cleaner faster than the competition.

Some of its specifications include:

  • 2000 PSI
  • 1.4 GPM
  • 32 pounds
  • 5 Amp/1800-watt motor
  • DirtBlaster and Vario spray wands
  • Patented corrosion-resistant and maintenance-free N-COR pump
  • Water-cooled induction motor

Karcher K5 earned its cleaning reputation thanks to a few handy features that get the job done. The Dirt Blaster spray wand is designed to handle tough residential situations, and the Vario Power Spray wand allows you to adjust the spray setting to just the one you need.

Despite using only 1.4 GPM, the Karcher K5 still offers up to 40 times more cleaning capabilities than a standard garden hose, and you won’t have to worry about it giving out on you because it boasts a patented water-cooled induction motor that will run for years and years.

It is on the pricey side considering its power output and GPM, but we still think it’s a model worth investing in because of all the features that make it easy to use and effective. Karcher backs the K5 with a 2-year warranty.

Pros:

  • Unit is easy to maintain and long-lasting
  • Eco-friendly energy consumption
  • Unique sprays allow for a variety of applications

Cons:

  • The unit may be a bit heavy for some people
  • You can’t use it with an extension cord
  • Expensive for its output

4. AR Blue Clean AR383 Pressure Washer

ar blue clean

If you’ve never heard of AR, you’re probably not alone, because this brand comes from an Italian pump manufacturer. Despite being small, they don’t let not being well known worldwide stop them from making quality products—namely affordable power washers with some fantastic features that you’ll love.

Some of its specifications include:

  • 1900 PSI
  • 1.5 GPM
  • 20-foot long hose and 30-foot long power cord
  • 27 pounds
  • 5 Amp/1800-watt motor

What makes this a standout model is that it’s environmentally friendly. Water usage is always a concern with power washers, and the AR Blue Clean uses 80 percent less water with 40 percent more power than a standard garden hose. It’s also quieter than gas engine models.

It comes with a hose reel so you can store the hose when not in use, and the power pressure’s accessories can go right in the built-in storage area. It also includes a TSS (Total Stop System) safety feature to turn off the pump automatically if the trigger has disengaged.

Overall, the AR Blue Clean is a great, affordable power washer that we’re happy to recommend, and we would consider this model a close second to the Sun Joe power washer. It will not only take care of your car washing needs, but it’s also perfect for use around your backyard, as well.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and is easy to maneuver
  • Very environmentally friendly
  • Nozzles are easy to change

Cons:

  • Pressure delivery can be inconsistent
  • Problems with tangling on the high-pressure hose

Comparing the Options

Model Max PSI GPM 
Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 1.76 
Greenworks GPW1501 1500 1.2 
Karcher K5 Premium Electric Power Washer 2000 1.4
AR Blue Clean AR383 Pressure Washer 1900 1.5 

We hope you found this guide to the best power washers for cars useful. We took care to include the best models on the market, and regardless of whether you go with our top pick or a different one, any one of these will get the job done.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, with the availability of sturdy, durable pressure washers on the market, getting your car spotless doesn’t have to be painful or time-consuming. As long as you take the time to determine your needs and find a power washer that fits the bill, the tedious task of cleaning your car will get a whole lot better.

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