pressure washer for auto detailing

The Best Pressure Washer For Cars 2019

Over the past few years, the popularity of the car pressure washer has exploded as an all-round cleaning tool. Once you have used a quality pressure washer for cars, you will see exactly how effective they are at cleaning anything they are pointed at.

The best pressure washer for cars is the Sun Joe SPX3000, which has a huge 2,030 PSI rating for breaking through tough dirt and comes with a 2 year warranty.

You can buy a car pressure washer in practically any size and any power with the prices raising for premium brands. Additional features and attachments such as a snow foam cannon can transform the way you use it to wash your car.

Best Pressure Washer For Cars

Car Pressure WasherWeightWater Pressure
Sun Joe SPX300031 LBS2,030 PSI
Karcher K5 Premium32 LBS2,000 PSI
AR Blue Clean AR38327 LBS1,900 PSI
Greenworks 1500 PSI17.5 LBS1,500 PSI
Karcher K3 Follow Me16.3 LBS1,800 PSI

A car pressure washer can make short work of cleaning practically anything that needs to be cleaned. For those that are using them primarily for car detailing, they are an essential tool that can work at a safe PSI for multiple tasks.

Below is a list of the best pressure washers for cars that can remove tough dirt, are easy to use and provide excellent features.

Sun Joe SPX3000 Car Pressure Washer


The Sun Joe SPX3000 is one of most popular car pressure washers in the USA. This is because of the range of features and excellent value for money. The Sun Joe also comes with an impressive 2 year warranty and is CSA approved.

Other features of the Sun Joe SPX3000 include:

  • 31 LBS in weight
  • Dual detergent tanks
  • 2,030 PSI
  • 14.5 amp/1800 watt Motor
  • 35 foot power cord
  • 34 inch extension wand
  • 20 foot high pressure hose

To increase the life span of the pump, the Sun Joe has a clever feature. This is in the form of a TSS (Total Stop System) trigger that acts as a safety lock switch to automatically shut off the pump when the trigger is not engaged.

Sun Joe offer a range of car pressure washers but this is the model to go for. It is the best car pressure washer in terms of functionality and value.

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Karcher K5 Premium Electric Pressure Washer

Karcher is probably one of the first brands that you think of in terms of pressure washers. They have marketed their pressure washers to be the best money can buy with a reputation for performance and build quality.

The Karcher brand is the go to pressure washer in the UK as opposed to the US where the SunJoe is by far more popular.

Features of the Karcher K5 Premium include:

  • 2,000 PSI of water pressure
  • 32 LBS in weight
  • 2 years limited warranty
  • 14.5 amp/1800 watt motor
  • Water cooled motor
  • Includes two wands and pressurized hose reel
  • Onboard detergent tank

Karcher state that the water cooled feature that aims to reduce the temperature of the induction motor helps assist the lifespan significantly. They claim it will last 5 times longer than most competitors.

The K5 Premium is the best car pressure washer the brand offers with the specification outweighing the competition. It comes with a premium price tag but the build quality and range of accessories available makes it a worthwhile investment.

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AR Blue Clean AR383 Pressure Washer


The AR Blue Clean is not a well known brand but they do provide an affordable car pressure washer with plenty of features. The main benefit when compared to the alternatives is that it is lightweight considering its size and electrical power.

Other features of the AR Blue Clean 383 include:

  • 1,900 PSI of water pressure
  • 27 LBS in gross weight
  • 1 years warranty
  • 30 feet power cord
  • 14.5 amp/1800 watt motor
  • CSA approved
  • Includes 2 wands

Overall, the AR Blue Clean AR383 is a reasonably priced car pressure washer that is powerful and lightweight.

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GreenWorks GPW1501 Pressure Washer

The GreenWorks CPW1501 is one of the cheapest pressure washer available that is ideal for car detailing. It has premium features such as a 25 and 40 degree quick connect nozzles that enables you change your approach to each job.

A detergent bottles comes with this pressure washer and is placed under the trigger handle. This will have the effect of spraying detergent solution at low pressure.

Other features of the GreenWorks CPW1501 include:

  • 1,500 PSI of water pressure
  • 17.5 LBS in gross weight
  • 1 year warranty
  • 35 feet power cord
  • 13 amp universal motor

Overall the GreenWorks CPW1501 car pressure washer is excellent value for money compared with other alternatives. It is the best cheap car pressure washer, which has been designed for car detailing and includes a range of accessories.

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Karcher K3 Follow-Me Car Pressure Washer

The Karcher K3 “Follow Me” design has four wheels (larger rear wheels) that will follow you as you go around the car. For those that use pressure washers of a regular basis, this is a great design feature and makes using a pressure washer much more easier.

Features of the Karcher K3 Follow Me include:

  • 1,800 PSI of water pressure
  • 16.3 LBS
  • 14.5 amp/1800 watt motor
  • Vario power spray hose
  • 2 years limited warranty

Being a Karcher pressure washer, it comes with a large accessory list and plenty of features. These include a Vario Power Spray hose that allows you to adjust the power form low to high for certain surfaces.

Overall, it is a unique pressure washer for cars that is the easiest to move round but does not lose any performance power.

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Car Pressure Washer Buying Guide

If your purpose is to water your flowers, a normal hose is fine. However there are times when a garden hose, with a nozzle/sprayer is clearly not enough. When it comes to serious car detailing, you will need a car pressure washer.

Tough dirt and grime can be virtually impossible to remove using a standard hose. However, by using a high powered pressure washer for cars, you can easily remove them safely. There are a range of pressure washers available and its important you get whats best for you.

To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding car pressure washers.

pressure washer for cars

Pressure Washers For Cars

There are a number of pressure washers available but it is essential that you get one just for auto detailing. This is because some pressure washers are designed for different applications such as remove staining from fences, clearing concrete and much more but these are usually gas powered. An electric car pressure washer will have a safe amount of PSI, which will not damage the paintwork of the car.

A PSI rating of around 2,000 is ideal for cleaning cars, trucks, boats and much more. It can also be used for cleaning patios, fences and other applications but if this is the sole purpose, the best option is to go for a higher PSI pressure washer.

How Much Water Does It Use?

For those that care about the environment or are on a water meter, the amount of water it uses is fairly important. It is estimated that the average car pressure washer will use approximately 7 to 9 gallons of water per minute.

When reading the specification of a pressure washer, look for the GPM (Gallons Per Minute) rating because this will give you an identification.

A higher GPM will mean more water will come out of the nozzle, which will provide the car with a better rinse. If both ratings are high, then the washing will be much quicker but the efficiency of water used may not be as good.

Foam Cannons

Since the popularity of photo sharing sites such as Instagram, Flickr and others, using a foam cannon have become very popular as a pre-cleaning step when washing your car. This is because it provides a safe method of removing dirt but it also provides the perfect photo opportunity. This is because the soap from the foam cannon is thick and sticks to the bodywork.

Foam cannons usually work from 55 to 90 PSI and produce a large amount of foam with a flow rate of up to 5.5 GPM. Most simply click straight onto the pressure washer whereas others you may need a certain adapter.

They are one of the best attachments you can get for you pressure washer and can improve your auto detailing. Below is an example of what the foam looks like on your car once sprayed from a pressure washer.

pressure washer foam cannon

Gas vs Electric Car Pressure Washer

You will notice that all of our recommended pressure washers for cars are all electric. This is because with an electric pressure washer, you are able to use a high amperage electric motor to deliver PSI of up to 2,000, which is ideal for washing cars.

Gas powered pressure washers deliver a much higher PSI rating with even the low powered versions producing well over 2,000 PSI. There are even some capable of producing over 7,000 PSI, which is not safe for car detailing.

Compared with the electric pressure washer, gas alternatives also use more gallons of water per minute due to the fact it has a higher powered motor and brass hardware (in most cases).

Electric pressure washers for cars are far more practical too as it takes one button to turn it on or off. The gas alternative requires you to tug on a rope in order to get it to start as well as remembering the gas in the first place.

There will also be a time when you will need to service a gas powered pressure washer as it will need oil and a new filter for it to run perfectly.

Electric pressure washers are also much lighter due to the materials used however, when it comes to portability they need to be plugged into an outlet.

To conclude, the best pressure washer for cars is an electric powered model as there is not a real need for the additional power. Most people want to simply flick the switch and turn on a pressure washer and not worry about fuel and servicing.

best car pressure washer for the money

Pressure Washer Nozzles

The nozzle of a pressure washer is one of the most important components and without one, the pressure washer will be useless. You will want to look out for a nozzle that is adaptable and allows you to change the width of the spray.

You will not always want a narrow spray of water as this will be too powerful and could be a major risk to the paintwork. Adjusting the spray to a wider setting for certain areas of the car will help avoid any damage.

How To Use A Car Pressure Washer

Everybody cleans their cars in a different fashion but when using a pressure washer, it is much more fun and easier. It is also important that you take some safety precautions too. Below is a guide on how to use a pressure washer for car detailing:

  1. Pre-clean – Before you use any wash mitt on your car paintwork, you should always rinse the car starting from the top and moving your way down. Be sure to take extra care over the lights and any body trim.
  2. Apply Detergent – Fill your car pressure washer with a detergent and then spray it onto the car using the widest setting for full coverage. Do not remove the detergent straight away, wait at least 5 minutes for it to soak up the dirt.
  3. Remove Dirt – Using a wash mitt, simply wipe away all the detergent from the car and spray the vehicle with a highest pressure from the machine.

Once this stage is done, you can move onto washing the car with your car wash shampoo and spray using the pressure washer. All the tough dirt would have been removed prior to this thanks to use of the pressure washer, which means you wont have to remove any swirl marks afterward with polish.

best car washing technique to avoid swirl marks

Motors and Pumps

The electric motor of a pressure washer and the power they output is determined by the wattage and amperage. The three types of electric motors are universal, induction and water cooled. They are in order of cost, performance and noise levels.

If you are stuck between two car pressure washers that are priced the same, check to see which electric motor it uses. If one is water cooled over an induction motor, you will have a clear answer to which is the best pressure washer for the money.

Just as important as the electric motor is of course the pump as it must be able to handle the power of the machine. There are three types of pumps, which include wobble, axial and triplex. They are ordered based upon their lifespan and ability to withstand large amounts of power.

Other Important Features

There is so much to talk about with regards to an electric pressure washer, so we will keep it short. In terms of usability, electric machines will require a power cord, which needs to be long enough to reach an AC outlet without being near the water spray.

This is not the only length you need to look out for because the hose length is also something that can be either too short or too long. If its too long, it can get in the way but too short and you will find yourself knocking over the pressure washer.

Detergent intake may also be an issue for some auto detailers as some are a suction tube or a plug and clean system. There are also many different detergent soaps you can use too but this is for another article.

electric pressure washer for detailing

Conclusion

A pressure washer for cars is a power tool for auto detailers, just like the cement mixer is to a brick layer. Investing into a powerful example that comes with excellent warranty, variable settings and features is a worthwhile investment.

You will usually own a pressure washer for many years and its worth paying the extra for one that offers more functionality. Sun Joe and Karcher are the most popular and the best brands of pressure washers for cars but do usually come at a premium price.

What Are Your Thoughts?

  1. I bought the Sun Joe SPX3000 on amazon prime and used it a few days after reading this post. You are not wrong, it is one of the best pressure washers for cars I have used. I am very much into my detailing and have been for over 10 years but I never really invested into a car pressure washer.

    I even had a go at the fence that was covered in mold and the Sun Joe blasts few it with ease. If you are in the market for an electric pressure washer, buy the Sun Joe SPX3000

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