For a lot of people, caring for a new car lasts a few months at best – especially where aesthetics are concerned over general maintenance.
For those into auto detailing, however, maintaining top-notch cosmetic condition is not just a regular task… but a full-time hobby.
This involves car cleaning that’s done right, needless to say. And the way this is achieved is by investing in a high-quality pressure washer.
Of course, there are different types of pressure washers. This makes it important to not just buy any pressure washer, but a pressure washer intended for car cleaning.
And no matter whether your car is a new purchase or a restored classic, investing in the right pressure washer can mean the difference between spoiling the paintwork and wanting to show it off 24/7.
This guide has everything you need to know about pressure washers for car detailing – so you avoid the former and enjoy more of the latter.
Below, find out which pressure washers are safe, what to look for before buying a pressure washer, and the best car pressure washers on the market today.
Are Pressure Washers Safe for Cars?
Pressure washers that are designed to be used on cars are safe for cars. Pressure washers intended for patios and other surfaces, however, are generally not recommended as safe to use on cars – at least if you care about your car!
That’s not to say that standard pressure washers cannot be used on cars, but there are factors that need to be taken into account, including the power of the pressure washer and how close the pressure washer is held to the paintwork when used.
A general rule of thumb is to use a PSI setting between 1200 and 1900; going above 1900 comes with the risk of stripping your pride and joy of its beloved paintwork.
Another good rule is to avoid close-range pressure washing, making sure to keep a distance of at least 24 inches for general cleaning.
That’s the bulk of it, but other factors include the nozzle and detergent used with your chosen pressure washer.
Car Pressure Washers – What to Look Out for
Now that you know how to use a car pressure washer safely, what else should you be looking for, specifically when buying a car pressure washer?
Pressure washers come with different specs and features, the main being PSI, GPM, hose length, weight, motor wattage/amps, included nozzle and brush accessories, and more. What’s also important to consider is the brand and, of course, price.
The average price of car pressure washers sits at around $170. So, you’ll find prices above and below, reflecting quality, brand name, and potential accessories included in the box, such as nozzles, brushes, and other cleaning attachments.
Where car pressure washers, and car detailing, are concerned, investing in a recognized industry brand is highly recommended. You’ll get the best bang for your buck not just in quality but in product lifespan.
Still, that doesn’t mean you need to spend an arm and a leg to get a car pressure washer that will serve you and your car years down the road.
The Best Pressure Washers for Car Detailing
Now for the main part: a full round-up of some of the best car pressure washers for auto detailing that you can buy today.
To give you a few ideas on both what to buy and what to look for, the following pressure washers are all worth your consideration, which have made the list based on specifications, features, price, brand, and more.
Don’t fret if you’re on a tight budget either, as these are the best pressure washers on the market right now for any budget, any preference.
1. Karcher K1700
Karcher is one of the most trusted names in the pressure washer industry targeted for cars, so right off the bat this is a brand that won’t disappoint.
The K1700, in particular, sits just right at 1700 PSI and 1.2 GPM, complete with 3 quick-connect nozzles in the box and a 20-feet kink-resistant high-pressure hose.
As the top pick for most car detailing enthusiasts, Karcher delivers long-lasting quality that’s trusted industry-wide.
Expect a higher than average price for this car pressure washer, but rest assured you’ll know what you are getting.
- Karcher – a car pressure washer brand you can trust
- Functional design – features an all-in-one two-wheeled trolley design
- Best for car pressure washing – 1700 PSI and 1.3 GPM are ideal for car pressure washing
- Long hose – with 20-feet of hose, you’ll never have to reach for an extension cord
- Nozzle attachments – includes 3 quick-connect spray nozzles and a quick-connect bayonet spray
- Not budget-friendly – it’s one of the best car pressure washers on the market, but might not be for those on a tight budget
Also available to purchase at:
Pressure Washers Direct
- Outstanding Performance: The K1700 delivers 1700 PSI of TruPressure,...
- The Karcher Promise - Cleaner. Quicker: Operating at a powerful 1700...
- Versatile Cleaning Options: Includes a quick-connect bayonet spray...
2. Karcher K5 Premium
Like the Karcher name but looking for something a little more high-end? The K5 Premium is worth a look. With 2000 PSI and 1.4 GPM, this thing’s powerful.
Sure, you might not need it, but having the additional power is always great – especially if you’ve other cleaning jobs in mind.
Compared with the Karcher K1700 (listed above), the robust Karcher K5 is easily a cut above thanks to the high PSI, extra long hose, integrated water filter, and water-cooled motor.
For these premium features, however, expect a higher price tag for the K5.
- Karcher – need we say it? It’s a product made by one of the industry’s top pressure washer brands
- Perfect for pressure washing your car… and more – 2000 PSI gives you extra power for cleaning more than just your car
- Compact yet robust – the K5 Premium is a compact yet robust pressure washer that truly lives up to its name
- Extra long hose – enjoy added freedom with the K5’s 26-feet-long high-pressure hose
- Large wheels – uneven patios? Lumpy lawns? The K5’s large wheels make light work of all rough terrain
- Not budget-friendly – if the name doesn’t give it away, the K5 Premium is more expensive. If your budget is tight, you’ll want to look elsewhere
Also available to purchase at:
- Outstanding Performance: Complete with a patented water-cooled...
- The Karcher Promise - Cleaner. Quicker: With a powerful 2000 PSI/1.2...
- Versatile Cleaning Options: Includes a pressure-regulating Vario Power...
3. Sun Joe SPX3000
Another brand that stands shoulder to shoulder with Karcher is Sun Joe. Sun Joe pressure washers are bestsellers and for good reason, offering premium quality—and versatility—at prices that are hard to ignore.
The Sun Joe SPX3000 is as good as it looks, packing 2030 PSI and 1.76 GPM from a 14.5-amp (1800W) electric motor – all for an attractive price.
The SPX3000 also operates like a dream, featuring automatic shut off, quick-connect, and removable tank carry.
- Sun Joe – best-selling car pressure washers for a reason
- Attractive design – features a two-wheeled trolley design that’s portable with all features attached
- Powerful and versatile – with 2030 max PSI and 1.76 max GPM, this pressure washer can be used for more than just your car
- Economical – this car pressure washer features auto shut off for prolonging pump life and saving energy
- Affordable – for all its great features, the SPX3000 has a mid-range price tag that’s affordable for most
- 2030 PSI – while the extra power doesn’t hurt, buyers will have to be extra careful when washing their car
Also available to purchase at:
Pressure Washers Direct
- [POWERFUL]: 14.5-Amp/1800-watt motor generates up to 2030 PSI (at...
- [VERSATILE]: Tackle a variety of cleaning tasks: homes, buildings,...
- [TSS (Total Stop System)]: Automatically shuts off pump when trigger...
4. Sun Joe SPX200E
Earlier we mentioned that you don’t have to go over your budget to get a high-quality car pressure washer – and the SPX200E is proof of that.
The Sun Joe SPX200E makes up in power what it lacks in size, and that’s 1350 PSI, 1.45 GPM, and a 10-amp motor in a compact, carryable design that’s as portable as it gets.
Despite its size, the SPX200E comes fitted with a 10-amp motor, multifunctional adapters included, and a 20-feet hose for maximum reach.
As for its price tag, the Sun Joe SPX200E is the most affordable car pressure washer on this list, which is by no means a reflection of the quality this product delivers.
- Sun Joe – tried and tested car pressure washers
- Compact design – the lightweight SPX200E is carryable, portable, and storable
- Ideal for car pressure washing – 1350 max PSI and 1.45 GPM is right on the money for safe, efficient car pressure washing
- Long hose – leave that extension cord in the garage with a 20-feet hose that will serve almost any purpose
- Budget-friendly – strapped for cash? The SPX200E won’t disappoint with its easy-on-the-eyes price tag
- Limited use – for the low-end price, it’s arguable that this car pressure washer might not last long or be powerful enough for demanding car cleaning
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5. Stanley SHP1600
The Stanley SHP1600 means business, featuring a no-nonsense compact design that delivers 1600 PSI at 1.3 GPM.
This is another car pressure washer that was designed for portability and easy storage, sitting at an affordable price that’s hard to disagree with.
Cars, pavements, pools, and decks, the Stanley SHP1600 handles all cleaning jobs with ease, offering a 20-feet high-pressure hose, 14-ounce detergent tank, and numerous attachments packed in the box, including a pressure washer gun, pressure washer wand, and variable turbo nozzle lance.
- Stanley – superior pressure washers from a brand that delivers on its promises
- Durable design – the SHP1600 is light yet durable, both simple to store and easy to transport
- Ideal for car pressure washing – with 1600 PSI and 1.3 GPM, the specs fit the bill
- Includes multiple attachments – comes with pressure washer gun, washer wand, variable nozzle lance, and more
- Long hose – never run out of hose with 20 feet to work with
- None – the lightweight Stanley SHP1600 ticks all the boxes for a surprisingly affordable price
- Specifications: 1600 Max PSI, 1.3 Max GPM, Axial Wobble Plate Pump, 12...
- Compact & Portable Featuring a Built-in Ergonomic Handle
- 100 Series Trigger Gun with Safety Lock
6. Stanley SHP2150
If you like Stanley and have a bigger budget to work with, the Stanley SHP2150 is worth considering over the SHP1600 for its extra power, hose reach, and accessories.
It might be more expensive, but the SHP2150 is worth it if you’re looking for nothing less than high-end.
With a 12-feet aluminum quick-connect extension lance, professional-grade hose connector, trigger gun, foam cannon, and 25-feet hose attached to a rugged two-wheeled unit, the SHP2150 is for those who are serious about car detailing.
These premium features, in addition to its 2150 PSI and 1.4 GPM specs, has the Stanley SHP2150 sitting in a class of its own.
- Premium product -the SHP2150 is a car pressure washer designed with auto enthusiasts in mind
- Powerful – 2150 PSI and 1.4 GPM gives this
- Extra long hose – features a 25-feet hose for those who need extra reach
- Rugged design – like all Stanley products, the SHP2150 is far from fragile, giving you one less thing to worry about
- Long lance – on top of the 25-feet hose reach, the included extension lance makes it even easier to clean hard-to-reach areas
- Not affordable – you get what you pay for here, which is top-end quality, but that doesn’t make this product ideal for those on a budget
- Bundle Includes: Quick Connect Lance
- 12" Aluminum Quick Connect Extention Lance
- HIGH PRESSURE FOAMER INCLUDED: The specially designed detergent bottle...
7. Greenworks 2000
Greenworks is another car pressure washer brand worth considering, known for delivering the goods at reasonable prices.
As one of its bestsellers, the Greenworks 2000 ticks all the boxes as an entry-level pressure washer for cars, offering 2000 PSI and 1.1 GPM from a 13-amp electric motor.
As for design, the Greenworks 2000 stands out, being both light and portable for maximum efficiency.
You’ve got 25-degree and 40-degree nozzles in the box—both ideal for car washing—with a 20-feet hose that’s not going to leave you short.
It’s also PWMA-certified, so the Greenworks 2000 is a product you’ll be able to rely on.
- Greenworks – trusted pressure washers that are known for being sustainable and economical
- Unique design – light and wheelable, the upright two-wheeled Greenworks 2000 is easy to transport
- Best-selling product – the Greenworks 2000 is not just one of Greenworks’ most popular products, but an industry bestseller overall
- Powerful PSI – up to 2000 max PSI (delivered from a 13-amp motor) for efficient and effective pressure cleaning
- Long hose – for most jobs, 20 feet is all you need
- Not budget-friendly – despite having all the bells and whistles, this particular Greenworks pressure washer is not their most affordable model
Also available to purchase at:
- PERFORMANCE TESTED : rated in accordance with PWMA standards
- 2000 PSI : 1.1 GPM for efficient cleaning of residential areas
- Ideal for medium duty projects including but not limited to cleaning...
8. Ryobi 1600
Last but not least: the Ryobi 1600. Ryobi is an electric pressure washer manufacturer that is as trusted as the rest – especially where car pressure washing is concerned.
At 1600 PSI and 1.2 GPM, it’s no wonder the Ryobi 1600 is a popular choice, boasting a 25-feet hose despite its carryable design.
For the budget-friendly price, you’re getting great value for money for a lightweight car pressure washer that’s going to be your trusted sidekick for years to come.
It’s easy to use, quiet overall, and ideal for first-time buyers and serious pressure washer users alike.
- Ryobi – a pressure washer brand that’s as good as the rest
- Perfect for car pressure washing – the specs are just right with 1600 PSI and 1.2 GPM
- Extra long hose – despite being a compact, carryable unit, the Ryobi 1600 boasts a 25-feet retractable hose
- Lightweight design – easy to carry, easy to store
- Affordable price – for those with a small budget, the Ryobi 1600 won’t disappoint with its low-end price tag
- None – it might not look like much, but the Ryobi 1600 offers big bang for your buck with all the right features for an inexpensive price
Also available to purchase at:
- Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories
Car Pressure Washer Specs
Checking out the specifications before buying any car pressure washer is important for several reasons, the most important of which is avoiding any damage to your car’s finish.
On the whole, this involves choosing a car pressure washer that isn’t too powerful.
To do this, you have to look at the PSI of the pressure washer. You want something that’s powerful enough to clean, but not too powerful that it might wear down the paint over time.
And the best PSI range for this is between 1200 and 1900.
What’s just as important as PSI is the GPM (gallons per minute).
GPM measures the amount of water delivered through the nozzle, and the higher this is the quicker and more thorough the cleaning will be. Despite that, it’s still best to aim for a GPM that’s around 1.5.
Pressure Washer Soaps
For serious auto detailing enthusiasts, purchasing a good car pressure washer is only half of the matter.
Choosing the right pressure washer soap is just as important, as this will not only give your car the best clean but protect the condition of the paint right up until its next wash.
Most run-of-the-mill car shampoos won’t cut it when used with a pressure washer.
In general, these are used for manual washing—and not for filling pressure washer detergent tanks—so the effectiveness when used with a pressure washer will be reduced.
As a good rule, the best pressure washer soaps and detergents are the ones recommended for use with your specific car pressure washer – often of the same brand.
These will provide the best results for cleaning dirt and grease that water alone won’t remove.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Pressure Washers Safe for Ceramic Coating?
In most cases, pressure washers are fine to use on cars with ceramic coating.
The same rule applies in that you should shoot for a PSI limit of 1900, which provides a thorough clean without being too powerful that it risks wearing the car’s finish.
For ceramic coating in particular, most detailing enthusiasts recommend using a foam cannon.
Foam cannons reduce the risk of damaging car paint, with other benefits that include faster overall cleaning and a shinier, slicker finish that truly stands out.
What is the Best PSI for Car Pressure Washers?
When it comes to cleaning your car with a pressure washer, you want to keep PSI between 1200 and 1900.
This is the most widely recommended PSI range for car cleaning and, much more importantly, auto detailing.
A PSI of between 1200 and 1900 will give your car a thorough clean without the risk of scratching, marking, or wearing the paint – both during the cleaning process and over time.
It’s also important to keep a distance of at least 24 inches for general pressure washer cleaning.
What is the Best Nozzle for Car Pressure Washers?
Car pressure washers worth their salt will come with a decent set of nozzles included in the box, ranging from 0-degree to 40-degree.
Put simply, the higher the nozzle, the wider the spray, which also means it will be less powerful and less likely to damage car paint.
In general, 40-degree nozzles are recommended for paintwork and glass, so this is what you should aim to use for the bulk of your cleaning.
25-degree nozzles are best for wheels, tires, and sidewalls, which provide a finer, more powerful spray for cleaning dirt between gaps.