The best pressure washers for washing your car

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A pressure washer is one of those items that you question why you need one, but after you get it and use it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. For over 20 years, I washed my car with a traditional garden hose, hose nozzle, bucket of car wash soap, and a hand mitt. About six years ago, following a recommendation from a friend, I decided to purchase an electric pressure washer and a foam cannon. And now, I’m one of those snobs that simply can’t go back to washing my car the old-fashioned way.

Make no mistake, using a pressure washer to wash your car is definitely a luxury item. You don’t need to, but you likely want to. Not only is it a lot easier and more convenient, it helps to protect your car from accidental scratches or swirls when washing. At the end of the day, you get a cleaner car with a lot less effort when you have a pressure washer. Best of all, it can come in handy around the house too, whether it’s to clean off your porch or even the side of your house.

If you’ve decided now is the time to get a pressure washer, or you’re looking for a replacement, then read on. Below, you’ll find our top picks for the best pressure washers for washing your car, but feel free to use them to also take care of any other type of washing that’s needed around the house.

1. Top pick: Sun Joe SPX3000 electric pressure washer

This is the pressure washer I currently own and I think it’s the best bang for the buck. It comes from Sun Joe, one of the most well-known and reputable brands when it comes to pressure washers, and it has a wide lineup if you want something more powerful or more affordable. But when it comes to washing your car, I do believe this electric pressure washer is ideal.

Powered by a 14.5-amp, 1800-watt motor, this pressure washer offers up to 2030 PSI and 1.76 GPM of water flow. It also includes five spray nozzles and a pair of 0.9-liter detergent tanks, but you likely won’t use those for washing your car. You’ll attach a 20-foot high pressure hose to the SPX spray gun and spray lance, which gives you plenty of room to fully wash your car with little hassle. This pressure washer is equipped with a Total Stop System (TSS), which automatically shuts off the pump when the trigger isn’t engaged. This not only saves energy, but will prolong the pump’s life. You’ll likely find a similar feature on any quality electric pressure washer, but it is something you want to keep an eye out for when shopping for one.

You’ll see other recommendations on this list that are more expensive and some that are more affordable, but if the Sun Joe SPX3000 is within your price range, it’s the pressure washer I’d recommend.

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2. Premium pick: Adam’s electric pressure washer

adam's electric pressure washer

Adam’s Polishes is a well-respected brand in the car care industry and it offers a complete package if you want to get started with using a pressure washer. It’s far from being the most affordable “product” on our list of recommendations, but keep in mind you are getting more than just the pressure washer. The company also includes a gallon of its Mega Foam car wash soap, a foam cannon, and a wash mitt. But you’re here to shop about pressure washers, so let’s get into the details of the machine.

What you’ll get is a pressure washer that’s capable of 2000 to 2500 PSI and 1.4 to 1.8 GPM, equipped with a high-quality, 40-foot steel braided hose. The GFCI power cord measures 35 feet and throughout the entire setup you’ll find all stainless steel fittings. And as you’d expect from a premium pressure washer, it’ll automatically shut off the pump if the trigger isn’t engaged. Adam’s also includes four different angle tips.

We know it’s not the most affordable option on our list, but it is a pressure washer specifically designed for washing your car since it does come from car care experts. If you’re looking for just one complete package, this is it.

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3. Best compact pressure washer: CRAFTSMAN electric pressure washer

craftsman electric pressure washer

Not everyone has the room for a large pressure washer and if you’re one of those people, here’s a compact recommendation for you. It comes from the tool experts at Craftsman, which is why we don’t hesitate to recommend it. Despite its compact size and affordable price tag, this pressure washer still offers up to 1700 PSI and 1.2 GPM when used with the 40-degree nozzle. It too, will automatically shut off if the trigger on the pressure washer gun isn’t engaged.

Included with the pressure washer is a 20-foot hose and a 35-foot power cord, a turbo nozzle, a 40-degree nozzle, soap bottle applicator, and the wand. There is convenient onboard storage for the nozzles, pressure washer hose, power cord, and wand so you can keep it all organized when it’s not in use. If you decide that you want a different foam cannon, make sure you get one that works with this pressure washer since it is only 1700 PSI / 1.2 GPM max.

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4. Best for heavy-duty jobs: Greenworks TruBrushless electric pressure washer

greenworks trubrushless electric pressure washer

If you’re planning to invest into a pressure washer for more than just cleaning your car, you’re going to want something that is not only powerful, but versatile enough to handle other tasks. For that, we recommend the TruBrushless electric pressure washer from Greenworks, offering up to 3000 PSI and 2.0 GPM of flow. As a note of caution, you won’t want to actually use its max power for washing your car, as 3000 PSI can damage your paint. As its name suggests, it is equipped with a powerful 14-amp TruBrushless motor and is certified by the Pressure Washer Manufacturers’ Association (PWMA), so you’re getting the power that is claimed.

Featuring a rugged design, Greenworks includes a metal gun, 25-foot hose, three angled nozzle tips (15, 25, and 40 degrees), along with soap and turbo nozzles. And of course, there is a Total Stop System to automatically shut off the pump when the trigger isn’t engaged. With a 35-foot power cord, onboard soap tank, and 10-inch wheels, this pressure washer will make washing your car a breeze and feel free to use it to take care of other tasks around the house.

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5. Also consider: Westinghouse ePX3050 electric pressure washer

westinghouse epx3050 electric pressure washer

If you’ve made it all the way here and still haven’t picked out a pressure washer, then maybe this one will strike your fancy. It comes from reputable company Westinghouse and it offers up to 2050 PSI and 1.76 GPM of performance. It’s a bit easier to maneuver compared to our other recommendations, with four quick-lock wheels that have a 360-degree steering design. The rest of its features are pretty much what you’d expect, with a 25-foot hose, onboard soap tank, auto-shutoff pump, and a collection of quick-connect nozzles (0, 15, 25 degrees and soap applicator). We’d still recommend getting a foam cannon with this pressure washer if you want better performance than the onboard soap tank and soap nozzle.

Westinghouse backs this pressure washer with a three-year limited service, labor, and parts coverage.

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Why do I need a pressure washer to wash my car?

As I said before, you don’t need a pressure washer to wash your car, much like you don’t need a Porsche to get from point A to point B. But you decided you wanted a Porsche, much like you’ve decided you want a pressure washer to help keep it clean. A pressure washer is just much more powerful than a normal garden hose, helping you get all that loose dirt and grime off the surface of your car before you even apply a layer of soap to the body. When paired with a foam cannon, the blanket of suds you’ll lay down ensures your wash mitt has a slick surface to swipe across, which helps prevent accidental scratching and swirling of your paint. Plus, there’s just something about a soap-covered car that’s just so appealing to our eyes.

Will using a pressure washer damage the paint on my car?

Like any tool, if you’re using your pressure washer incorrectly, you can damage the paint on your car. Never hold the pressure washer nozzle close to the surface of your car, as it can damage or scratch your clear coat. As for recommendations, we turn to the experts at Turtle Wax: stay at least six inches away from the paint and 12 inches away from trim when using a pressure washer. You also shouldn’t use a nozzle that’s below 25 degrees, since anything less will have a more precise stream that could also damage your paint. Lastly, don’t get all Jeremy Clarkson on your car and want more power. Keep your water pressure around 1500 PSI if you can, and Turtle Wax recommends not going above 2200 PSI. That also means when you’re shopping for a pressure washer to clean your car, getting something with 1500 to 2000 PSI will suffice.