Best Pressure Washers for Cleaning Your Car 2017
Review By - 1st August 2017
Editors Note: This article was last updated in September 2017.
When searching for the right pressure washer to clean your car there is quite a bit of choice. Many are suitable however you want to make sure you have one that has enough power, but there is no need to over pay for something that is so powerful you just don’t need it. When it comes to car washing a lance in bar pressure and water flow is important to make sure the job is easy to do without damaging your paintwork.
Top Car Cleaning Pressure Washers
This table shows our top 3 pressure washers perfect for car cleaning.
Last updated on 2017-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
With such a good choice to pick from there are a few things worth considering when it comes to narrowing down which is right for you.
Things to consider when looking for a pressure washer for use on your car
Pressure – 110 – 130 bar is ideal, higher than this is not safe to use as it may damage your paintwork, however you can buy a pressure washer with a higher bar and twist the nozzle to reduce this making it safe to use on your car, however if you are just intending to use it for car cleaning, then there is no need to get anything that is 160 bar for example.
You can pick up a pressure washer with 110 up to 180 bar, even at 110 bar this is more than enough to clean your car, if you wanted to clean your patio then the higher the better. When it comes to your car the higher pressure can damage your paintwork, so ensure you can adjust the pressure and spray on the gun itself.
Waterflow – This is the measurement of water through the pump an hour in litres, generally the higher the water flow the better, this speeds up the process, the higher the flow, the shorter the length of time it takes to clean. Most pressure washers are ideal and fine in terms of water flow.
Hose length – The longer the hose the easier it is, no need to keep moving the pressure washer around, so bare this in mind. Most entry models will have a hose length of 4m, this is usually good enough for most people’s car, however if you are cleaning a large 4×4, or a van for example you may want something longer which will save you having to keep moving round the pump itself and working about pulling it over.
Extras – If you are buying it for car cleaning, then look out for packages that come with attachments designed for use on your car, wheel brushes, car detergent and brushes are common extras. Different models come with different accessories, so make sure you pick one that has useful attachments for for cleaning, a wheel brush, soft brush fitment, and a detergent bottle that can be added between the hose and spray gun which is ideal for foaming your car.
Car Foaming – Foaming your car is a great way to start the car cleaning process, to do this you will need a foaming adaptor, check out our guide on foaming your car here.
With these points in mind we have rounded up our top pressure washers ideal for using on your car.
Karcher K2 Full Control
The Karcher K2 Full Control Pressure Washer has an air-cooled, universal motor, with a water inlet filter that prevents damage to the pump, and has a 4 meter pressure hose and 5 meter power cable. This electric pressure washer is perfect for washing cars, as it is compact it also contains a handle for easy lifting as you wash. It comes with a variety of lances to choose from, so you can choose the correct wide-spray nozzle so you can wash your car without chipping or stripping the paint off your car. Intended for cleaning tasks around the home and garden, the K2 also comes supplied with a trigger gun, dirt blaster lance (which provides 50% greater cleaning power than the standard lance), and a one-way lance.
The K2 has 1400W of power with 110-maximum bar pressure, it has automatic start and stop functions and a detergent suction tube, onboard storage, and has a water flow rate of 360 litres per hour. This is the perfect compact pressure washer for washing your automobile and for small projects around the home. Read our full Kärcher K2 Compact review here.
Karcher Pressure Washer K4
The Karcher Pressure Washer K4 is also a consumer-grade pressure washer and is both a more powerful pressure washer than the K2, but is also mobile and ideal for all cleaning tasks. This water-cooled induction motor allows for enhanced performance and longer life-span.
Only weighing in at 11.8 kg, this pressure washer includes an integrated water filter, standard quick connect fittings, and high-pressure guns for tougher jobs. The pressure this unit offers is around 130 bar. The K4 Home comes with a Vario Lance wand, detergent suction hose, and Dirtblaster Lance wand, which provides up to 50% greater cleaning power than a standard high pressure wand. Using a wide-spray nozzle, this makes for ideal car and motorcycle cleaning, as well as wood and stone cleaning outdoors. You can read our in-depth K4 home water-cooled pressure washer review.
Nilfisk C120 6-6 PCA X-Tra
The Nilfisk C120 6-6 PCA X-Tra is a light-weight alternative to Karcher brands that deliver consumer-grade pressure washing for washing one’s home or automobile. With a handle for easy carrying, this easily-transportable pressure washer is perfect for a number of cleaning functions around the house. With a maximum pump pressure of 110/11 (bar/MPa) and a Voltage of 230, this little powerhouse has a 5 meter cable length for easy plug in, a 6 meter hose length, and weighs only 6.6kg, making this model by Nilfisk, a highly portable and efficient pressure washer. Read our Nilfisk C120 6-6 PCAD pressure washer review here.
Nilfisk pressure washers are also an excellent and compact option for washing cars, and they come in residential models that are excellent for washing surfaces with paint and other small projects.
Our recommendation is the Karcher K4, this is a good all rounder, and a good investment. The K4 is a mid range pressure washer, more power than the entry K2 and C120 from Nilfisk making it ideal for extra tasks outside, such as washing down your patio and drive.
If budget is limited then the Karcher K2 is a popular choice and we can see why, another good all rounder, well built and is perfect for cleaning your car.
Finding the right pressure washer for your car that can also be used for projects in the future is an important decision, as you want to make a sound investment, but also need a pressure washer that isn’t too strong as to destroy your car’s paint job and cost you money. The Karcher K2 and K4 are perfect examples of pressure washers made for uses such as cleaning cars and homes, and Nilfisk’s C120 model is an excellent alternative that can do the same job and offer different uses for the future.
All of these models are electricity-based, and due to the small projects that these models are intended for, this is recommended as opposed to gas-powered models that are typically used for tough jobs and can be dangerous to use for residential purposes. Consider which pressure washer is right for you and you’ll be glad you did.
Buying an Electric Power Washer for your car
If you are outside often cleaning your car then a pressure washer is a great investment, it will help keep your car sparkling and speed up the process.
When is comes to which pressure washer to buy then most on the market will certainly be good enough to do the job, a lot of entry models that are at the low end of the price scale are certainly suitable, but there are some things to bear in mind.
It is important to think about how else you may use your pressure washer, if this is your first one then you may find yourself using it for things that you didn’t think you would, cleaning your BBQ, patio furniture, cleaning the drive or patio, garage door and guttering.
The reason to consider other uses is the ensure you get something that will do those jobs, you could buy an entry level pressure washer that is perfect for cleaning your car, however if you wanted to clean your drive or patio you may find that the pressure and water flow just isn’t high enough to do the job.
Which Pressure Washer?
If you are just looking for a pressure washer to clean your car then Karcher and Nilfisk have a great entry level model that is perfect for this, there is the Kärcher K2 Compact Home Air-Cooled Washer which can be picked up for around £75, and the Nilfisk C110 4-5 PC Xtra Compact High Pressure Washer which is around £80. Both are 110 bar and are easy to use, compact and are a good solid first pressure washer.
If you want to spend a bit more and have a bit more flexibility then you can look at the Karcher K4 and K5 models, here you get higher water flow and pressure, a longer hose and usually a few more attachments included depending on the model. There are great for more than just cleaning your car, if you want to clean your drive or patio then these are worth taking a look at.
Below are some common questions we read about using a pressure washer on your car, and our answers.
Will a Pressure washer damage my car paint work?
A common concern with pressure washers being used on a car is damage to paintwork, however this would only happen with a very powerful pressure washer held very close to the paintwork. The pressure of the water removes the dirt particles, which are then washed away by the water, however excessive pressure is not needed to do this and therefore entry level pressure washers work well. A hose pipe will run water over the dirt but not remove anything that is stuck on as the pressure is what removes it.
So in answer to this question, you will only damage your car if you use an extremity powerful pressure washer. If you buy a Karcher Full Control power washer, this comes with a settings option on the trigger gun that has a setting for car cleaning ensuring the pressure is not set any higher so that no damage is done to your car. More powerful settings are ideal for patio cleaning and brickwork.
What car soap should I use?
We have a full post on soaps we recommend here.
What is snow foaming?
Using a special snow foam lance you can coat your car in a cleaning foam that covers your car in a snow mist, leaving it for 1o minutes allows it to help lift dirt from the paintwork ready to be washed off. Check out our snow foaming guide here for me details, what you need and how to do it.
Can I use it on the Engine?
You can use your pressure washer for a lot of things, but should you use it for your engine bay too? The answer is yes but we don’t advise it. Read our full guide and answer in our post ‘Can you Pressure Wash your Engine Bay?‘.
What attachments should I use on my car?
There are a range of attachment and accessories for your pressure washer for different tasks including cleaning your car, from wheel brushes, paintwork rotary brushes and foaming guns. Check out the range of Karcher attachments here.