The enormous number of options available means shopping for the best pressure washer can certainly be a challenge. Electric pressure washers are often seen as the favorite for around-the-home chores, but gas-powered models can be just as easy to use. They are more effective on tough stains and for cleaning large areas. Understanding where and when each works best is key to making the right choice.
This article examines the features and benefits of high-performance models, giving you the information you need to find the best gas pressure washer for your home or business.
- BEST OVERALL: Generac 7122 SpeedWash, 3200 PSI, Orange
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: WEN PW2800 2800 PSI Gas Pressure Washer, CARB
- ALSO CONSIDER: Westinghouse Outdoor Power Equipment WPX2700 Gas
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: TACKLIFE Gas Pressure Washer, 3300PSI at 2.6GPM
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: SIMPSON Cleaning ALH4240 Aluminum Gas Pressure
- MOST VERSATILE: Champion 3200-PSI 2.4-GPM Dolly-Style Gas Pressure
- FOR DRIVEWAY, DECK & PATIO: SIMPSON Cleaning MS60763-S MegaShot Gas Pressure
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gas Pressure Washer
While most gas pressure washers deliver higher performance than their electric counterparts, many are still aimed squarely at general-purpose home and yard use. At the other end of the scale are heavy-duty professional machines. Understanding the following features will help you select the best gas pressure washer for the tasks you undertake on a regular basis.
As discussed in the article on the dos and don’ts of pressure washing, it’s important to use these machines for the right type of cleaning jobs. Though many gas pressure washers have considerable flexibility, you can sometimes have too much power.
In general, gas pressure washers are tools for outside tasks. Medium-duty models can be used for vehicle cleaning, though use of an appropriate accessory like a car-cleaning wand is a good idea. These machines are a great choice for cleaning siding and brickwork and for removing grease and oil from decking, paths, garage floors, etc. Some can strip rust and flaking paint before refinishing. They can also remove graffiti. In essence, gas pressure washers are for cleaning hard surfaces—those that can withstand the force of the water jet that’s generated.
Three figures are provided to allow you to assess cleaning performance: pounds per square inch (PSI), gallons per minute (GPM), and cleaning units (CU).
PSI tells you the actual water pressure generated. Higher numbers mean a stronger jet and thus greater ability to cut through dirt and grime. If you have high PSI to start with, you can usually turn it down. Low PSI limits the jobs you can do, however.
GPM is the volume of water the pressure washer can supply. More gallons per minute usually indicates the ability to clean larger areas. However, both PSI and GPM are interdependent to some extent. If you have high PSI but low GPM, you can still get a powerful jet of water, but it will be very thin and thus of limited use.
CU is simply the multiplication of PSI with GPM. As such, it’s not a performance indicator on its own but can be used to give an overall comparison among models. It’s more often quoted on electric models (possibly because the figures are impressive) but is of limited practical value.
Gas pressure washers almost invariably use 4-stroke (also called 4-cycle) engines. Those with 2-stroke engines have their advantages on tools like chainsaws, but gas pressure washers don’t need to run as fast.
However, 4-stroke motors tend to be more reliable, last longer, run more quietly, and produce lower emissions. The latter is increasingly important, with the stringent California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations being adopted by numerous other states. EPA restrictions are also increasingly strict. Several gas pressure washer manufacturers now use the term “50-state” to indicate that their low-emission motors are compliant with all current regulations.
The actual size of the gas engine is given in cubic centimeters (cc). However, two motors of the same size can produce different amounts of power, so it’s useful to check horsepower (HP) as well. Though most manufacturers produce trustworthy motors, names like Briggs & Stratton, Honda, and Kohler have particularly strong reputations for reliability and durability. Their motors are often used by other makers.
The ability to move a gas pressure washer around is clearly a major factor. The smallest weigh around 60 pounds, so they may be able to be lifted without too much difficulty, although these units always have wheels. These range from solid plastic wheels on low-cost gas pressure washers, to hard rubber tires on midrange units, to pneumatic tires on the largest machines. On big, heavy machines, the tires help spread the load and make them easier to handle on a variety of surfaces.
Also consider the length of the hose from the machine to the spray gun. Though 25 feet is common, some hoses are up to 35 feet. If you need greater mobility, connect a garden hose from the water supply to the pressure washer. Bear in mind you cannot use an ordinary garden hose from the machine to the spray gun to extend its reach. A garden hose is rated for a maximum of around 500 PSI, so it isn’t structurally strong enough.
Whereas electric pressure washers sometimes need a separate bucket for detergent, gas pressure washers generally have an onboard tank. If you’re considering a heavy-duty model, you may want to check capacity.
All machines come with a spray gun, which may or may not have a wand extension. There will be a number of quick-connect nozzles (usually between four and six) that provide for soap delivery and offer different spray patterns. Other attachments may be provided, designed for cleaning hard surfaces or vehicle bodywork, for example. If not, accessories from independent manufacturers are widely available. Be sure to check the connector size if you are considering these.
Some minor assembly of a gas pressure washer may be required, and tools are almost always included. A few models even include a small amount of engine oil to get the user started.
Our Top Picks
Now that you have a good understanding of the primary features, it’s time to look in detail at some of the top models. In addition to the considerations above, manufacturer reputation and value-for-money is taken into account to help you find the best gas pressure washer in each category.
The Generac SpeedWash has a 196cc engine, producing 3,200 PSI at 2.7 GPM. A power dial on the spray gun allows for easy pressure adjustment. It comes with four interchangeable nozzles. Versatility is further extended by a turbo nozzle for focusing on tough spots, a high-pressure soap-blaster spray attachment, and a power broom for horizontal surfaces.
The motor and pump are situated over the axle, making for good balance and easy maneuverability. The hose length is 25 feet. While not the most powerful machine featured, it is an outstanding general-purpose choice for both home and professional use.
This gas pressure washer has a durable, CARB-compliant 173cc 4-stroke engine delivering 2800 PSI at up to 2.3 GPM. The feature set mimics that of more expensive models. There’s a long-life axial pump, a quick-connect spray gun with four nozzles, and 25 feet of hose. The onboard detergent tank holds 32 fluid ounces.
While not aimed at professional users, the WEN is sensitive enough to tackle vehicle bodywork without risking damage yet still provides sufficient performance for tough cleaning around the yard.
Westinghouse manufactures both electric and gas pressure washers and has 50 years of experience making these machines. The budget-friendly WPX2700 has a class-leading 212cc 4-stroke engine that’s easy to start despite the larger than average size. It produces 2700 PSI at 2.3 GPM.
The spray gun can be fitted with one of four quick-connect nozzles, one for soap delivery and three for different spray patterns. It connects to the pump via 25 feet of abrasion-resistant hose. At half a gallon, the detergent tank is big enough to tackle large areas without frequent refills. A weight of 63 pounds combined with 12-inch wheels also makes it very maneuverable.
Owners of large yards sometimes struggle to find the best gas pressure washer for their needs. Low-cost models seldom deliver adequate performance, and professional machines cost more than many want to spend.
The Tacklife gas pressure washer is a great solution. The robust 212cc, 6.5-hp motor delivers an impressive 3,300 PSI at 2.6 GPM. It’s also CARB compliant. Few consumer models can match the power; even fewer can compete on price.
The spray wand comes with five nozzles rather than the usual four. The wand attaches via 30 feet of hose. A 1-gallon detergent tank reflects the hardworking nature of the machine in general. That’s underlined by the 12-inch all-surface pneumatic tires.
This model has a 390cc Honda engine, and it produces 4,200 PSI of pressure at 4.0 GPM. Rather than the standard axial pump, there’s a triple-plunger version that has ceramic-coated pistons for extended life.
Reinforcing the heavy-duty nature of the machine is 50 feet of tough, high-pressure hose attached to a 31-inch spray wand that has a choice of five nozzles. In spite of all this power, though, the lightweight aluminum frame and 13-inch pneumatic tires make it surprisingly manageable for a large machine.
The motor on this model is a 224cc CARB- and EPA-compliant unit delivering a competitive 3,200 PSI at up to 2.4 GPM. The 25 feet of high-pressure hose is fairly commonplace, but the spray-gun wand is detachable, so the user has close-up power or extended reach, depending on the job’s demands. There are five quick-change nozzles and two separate ½-gallon detergent tanks, so the user can either run different cleaners or maximize operating time.
The RH265 Kohler motor is actually a 196cc unit. It’s known for its reliability and produces 3,100 PSI and 2.4 GPM. There is the standard 25 feet of high-pressure hose connecting a spray gun that comes with five interchangeable nozzles.
The addition of a 15-inch surface scrubber makes this an outstanding tool for decks, driveways, garage floors, and more. The resilient powder-coated steel shell combines a stiff-bristled edge with a pair of rotating stainless steel jets. Together they cut through dirt with great efficiency and leave a virtually streak-free finish. For substantial surface areas that need to be cleaned on a regular basis, this is a worthy choice.
FAQs About Gas Pressure Washers
The information above should provide a thorough understanding of the key issues affecting the performance and durability of the best gas pressure washers. However, a few questions may still remain, and their answers appear below.
Q. What can I clean with a gas pressure washer?
You can clean all kinds of things, from cars and trucks to driveways and decks or vinyl siding and brickwork. As long as you can adjust the pressure to the task, these cleaning machines can tackle many hard surfaces.
Q. Do gas pressure washers require oil?
Yes. It’s vital for lubrication and cooling. The 2-stroke models use an oil and gas mix. The 4-stroke machines have a separate tank for oil. It’s important to follow the directions in the owner’s manual or you risk damaging the machine.
Q. What kind of gas does a gas pressure washer use?
Regular unleaded is generally recommended. Some will run off 10 percent ethanol or 15 percent MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether). Again, check the owner’s manual.
Q. How do I set up a gas pressure washer?
Generally, it’s straightforward. Connect the necessary hose and spray gun, add fuel and oil, run water to prime, then pull the cord to start. Each machine may have minor differences, so reading the instructions is vital for proper operation.
Q. How long does a gas pressure washer usually last?
There are lots of variables, so it’s difficult to offer an accurate time frame. Some manufacturers provide a rating in hours. If properly maintained, anywhere from 500 to several thousand hours is possible.