Reviews Tools & Materials Power Tools

Keep Your Sedan Shiny With the Best Pressure Washers for Cars

Upgrade your car-washing game by trading that garden hose for a powerful pressure washer.
A person using the best pressure washer for cars to wash a rugged-looking grey jeep.

Photo: amazon.com

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Best Overall

The Craftsman 2100 MAX PSI Electric Pressure Washer on a white background.

Craftsman 2100 MAX PSI Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Best Bang For The Buck

The Greenworks 1600 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer along with its included nozzles, hoses, and detergent bottle on a white background.

Greenworks 1600 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Upgrade Pick

The DeWalt 2100 MAX PSI Electric Jobsite Pressure Washer with its included hose, nozzle, and tip on a white background.

DeWalt 2100 MAX PSI Electric Jobsite Pressure Washer

See It

While automobile owners can absolutely use a garden hose and sprayer attachment to keep their cars clean, a pressure washer for cars is a better option. These machines produce a high-pressure stream of water capable of quickly and effectively removing dirt and grime. They also come equipped with a variety of nozzles for applying a thick lather of soap and thoroughly rinsing the vehicle.

While pressure washers speed up the process of washing a car, you can’t just use any old machine. Many are far too powerful and will strip your car’s paint, or they don’t come with the proper nozzles or reservoirs for easy application of soap. To ensure we picked options appropriate for automobiles, we enlisted the help of Isaac Lee, senior vice president of operations for San Diego-based car wash Soapy Joe’s. Read on to see the best pressure washers for cars before choosing one that’s right for you.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Craftsman 2100 MAX PSI Electric Pressure Washer
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Greenworks 1600 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
  3. UPGRADE PICK: DeWalt 2100 MAX PSI Electric Jobsite Pressure Washer
  4. BEST GAS-POWERED: Westinghouse 2700 PSI Gas-Powered Pressure Washer
  5. BEST CORDLESS: Ryobi One+ HP 18V EZ Clean Power Cleaner Kit
  6. BEST ELECTRIC: Sun Joe 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer
  7. BEST HIGH-PRESSURE: Greenworks 3000 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
  8. BEST COMPACT: Ryobi 1800 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
  9. BEST PROFESSIONAL: AR Blue Clean 2300 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
A wide spray of water from the best pressure washers for cars hitting a soapy car to rinse it clean.
Photo: istock.com

How We Chose the Best Pressure Washers for Cars

We looked at more than two dozen of the best pressure washer models to choose the top ones for washing cars. We compiled our final list based on their ability to produce the appropriate pressure and flow rate for optimal cleaning power without the risk of damage. They also feature nozzles, hose lengths, and soap applicators suited to washing cars.

Understanding that budgets for these machines vary, our list covers a variety of price points. It also includes a broad range of sizes, such as larger models that sit on wheels and smaller lightweight models that you can carry from garage to driveway.

Our Top Picks

The list below includes pressure washers best suited for washing a car. These models produce a safe amount of pressure for cleaning vehicles and come with accessories and features that make the job easier.

Best Overall

Craftsman 2100 MAX PSI Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 1.2 gallons per minute (GPM)
  • Max pounds per square inch (PSI): 2,100
  • Power: Corded electric

Pros

  • Ample cleaning power yet not enough that it will strip paint
  • Compact size and wheels make it easy to move around
  • Plenty of onboard storage for wand, nozzles, and other attachments

Cons

  • No way to switch from wash to rinse without emptying and cleaning the soap tank

This electric option from Craftsman checks all the boxes for those wanting a pressure washer for car-washing duties. Its max 2,100 PSI is powerful enough to blast most grease and grime from a car without creating so much pressure that it damages the paint or breaches waterproof seals around doors and windows.

Since it’s compact, lightweight, and has wheels, the Craftsman is easy to move in and out of storage. Its 25-foot kink-resistant hose is long enough to work around a car or truck without repositioning it. There’s plenty of onboard storage for the nozzles, hose, cord, and wand, and the soap tank is removable for easy filling and cleaning.

Get the Craftsman pressure washer for cars at Amazon, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, or Walmart.

Best Bang For The Buck

Greenworks 1600 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 1.2 GPM
  • Max PSI: 1,600
  • Power: Corded electric

Pros

  • Compact size and light overall weight make it easy to carry and store
  • Includes 2 nozzle types and a detergent bottle attachment for applying car wash soap for pressure washers
  • Produces enough pressure to clean vehicles thoroughly without causing damage

Cons

  • Some customers report leaks around the hose fitting and wand connection

This power washer from Greenworks is a great budget-priced car-washing solution. While it may not be as powerful as some pricier pressure washers, its max pressure of 1,600 PSI is enough to cut through most grease and grime. It comes with two nozzle types and a detergent bottle that attaches to the wand to apply soap.

Besides being cheaper than most power washers, this model is also lighter and more compact. It’s about the size of a small suitcase, weighs just 13 pounds, and comes equipped with a large carrying handle. And with its 35-foot power cord, it can reach vehicles parked far from a power outlet.

Get the Greenworks 1,600 PSI pressure washer for cars at Amazon, Tractor Supply Co., or Greenworks.

Upgrade Pick

DeWalt 2100 MAX PSI Electric Jobsite Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 1.2 GPM
  • Max PSI: 2,100
  • Power: Corded electric

Pros

  • Square shape, wheels, and telescoping handle make it easy to transport and store
  • Wand and nozzles fit conveniently inside the pressure washer frame
  • Produces plenty of pressure for cleaning but not enough to strip paint

Cons

  • Must use a detergent bottle attachment to distribute soap

DeWalt is known for making quality tools, and this

electric pressure washer

is no exception. Its 2,100 max PSI provides ample vehicle cleaning power but isn’t so much that it will strip paint. The heavy-duty pressure washer is protected by an aluminum frame, making it capable of enduring abuse and easy to store.

There’s also storage for the wand and nozzles, and the hose wraps up neatly inside the frame. Integrated wheels and an extendable telescoping handle make it easy to move by allowing users to roll it like a piece of luggage.

Get the DeWalt pressure washer for cars at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best Gas-Powered

Westinghouse 2700 PSI Gas-Powered Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 2.3 GPM
  • Max PSI: 2,700
  • Power: Gas

Pros

  • High max pressure makes it an option for a variety of power-washing jobs
  • Ruggedly constructed with a steel frame and large never-flat wheels
  • Large half-gallon soap reservoir ideal for bigger power-washing jobs

Cons

  • Some customers report the high-pressure hose is prone to bursting

Most gas-powered pressure washers are simply too powerful to use safely on a vehicle. This model from Westinghouse is an exception. With a max pressure of 2,700 PSI and both 25- and 40-degree nozzles, it’s well suited to cleaning cars. Its ample power and high flow rate also lend it to tackling homes, driveways, and decks, making it a great all-purpose power washer.

The Westinghouse comes with three nozzles, a soap applicator tip, and a large half-gallon soap reservoir. Though heavier than electric models, its sturdy steel frame is equipped with never-flat wheels that make it easy to maneuver.

Get the Westinghouse pressure washer for cars at Amazon, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply Co., The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Best Cordless

Ryobi One+ HP 18V EZ Clean Power Cleaner Kit

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 0.7 GPM
  • Max PSI: 600
  • Power: Cordless electric

Pros

  • Doesn’t require a power outlet since it runs off a rechargeable battery
  • Small size makes it easy to store and transport
  • Brushless motor and 18-volt battery provide up to a 25-minute runtime

Cons

  • Doesn’t produce nearly as much pressure as a corded model

This pressure washer untethers the user from a power cord, making it a great option for power-washing when there’s no outlet nearby. It runs on an 18-volt-battery brushless motor that provides up to 25 minutes of runtime and produces up to 600 PSI water pressure with a flow rate of 0.7 GPM.

The Ryobi One+ pressure washer also has an adapter that attaches to a standard garden hose or 2-liter bottle for smaller applications, such as cleaning a bike. Users can purchase a foam blaster and spinning brush attachment for cleaning rims, patio furniture, and other tight spots.

Get the Ryobi One+ pressure washer for cars at The Home Depot or Ryobi.

Best Electric

Sun Joe 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 1.24 GPM
  • Max PSI: 1,450
  • Power: Corded electric

Pros

  • Dual detergent tanks make it easy to switch between soap types for cleaning different surfaces
  • “Just right” amount of water pressure to clean thoroughly without causing damage
  • Wand extends nearly 3 feet long for cleaning larger vehicles

Cons

  • Some customers complain that the pressure washer falls over too easily during use
  • Inlet connector for the garden hose is prone to leaking

Sun Joe’s electric pressure washer manages to be reasonably priced while still producing plenty of pressure for car washing. With a pressure of 1,450 PSI, it has ample cleaning power but not so much that it can damage paint. It comes with five quick-connect tips, including a tip for soaping.

Two separate detergent tanks are convenient when taking on different types of cleaning projects, such as power-washing a car and cleaning a fence, because they eliminate the need to change out the soap type between jobs. There’s also a long 34-inch extension wand that provides plenty of reach for cleaning larger vehicles.

Get the Sun Joe pressure washer for cars at Amazon, The Home Depot, Walmart, or Sun Joe.

Best High-Pressure

Greenworks 3000 PSI Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 2.0 GPM
  • Max PSI: 3,000
  • Power: Corded electric

Pros

  • High pressure rate makes it powerful enough to clean decks and siding
  • Large wheels make it easy to wheel in and out of storage
  • Comes with 5 nozzle attachments, including a soaping nozzle

Cons

  • Bulky size can make it more difficult to store than other pressure washers

This high-pressure washer has enough power and flow rate to clean a house while being gentle enough to wash a car, making it a versatile option. With its 3,000 PSI output and 2.0 GPM flow rate, it’s one of the most powerful electric models on the market, capable of cleaning a house or deck.

It’s also safe to use on vehicles with the 25-degree or wider nozzles (narrower nozzles will strip paint). Although its body is larger than most of our other picks, the Greenworks 3000 is still easy to move thanks to its large never-flat wheels.

Get the Greenworks 3,000 PSI pressure washer for cars at Amazon, Best Buy, Tractor Supply Co., Greenworks, or Walmart.

Best Compact

Ryobi 1800 PSI 1.2 GPM Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 1.2 GPM
  • Max PSI: 1,800
  • Power: Corded electric

Pros

  • Light total weight, handle, and compact size make it easy to transport and store
  • Produces enough water pressure to clean without damaging paint
  • 20-foot ultra-flex hose that is lighter than other pressure washer hoses

Cons

  • Only comes with a 15 degree and turbo nozzle attachment

With a base that’s about the size of a tool box and a weight of 16 pounds, this electric pressure washer is one of the easiest models to transport and store. Along with its compact size, it also comes equipped with a large carrying handle and a lightweight hose.

This Ryobi can reach a max PSI of 1,800, so it’s safe for use on cars, and it comes with a turbo nozzle for maximum cleaning power. While there is no soap reservoir on the base unit, it does come with a dispenser attachment for detergent application.

Get the Ryobi 1,800 PSI pressure washer for cars at The Home Depot, Ryobi, or Walmart.

Best Professional

AR Blue Clean 2300 PSI Electric Pressure Washer

See It

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 1.7 GPM
  • Max PSI: 2,300
  • Power: Corded electric

Pros

  • Water pressure provides maximum cleaning power without damaging car paint
  • Reel-style hose storage makes it easy to extend and retract hose
  • Soap dispenser controls allow user to fine-tune the amount of soap released

Cons

  • Comes with a steep price tag compared to other electric pressure washers

Top-notch build quality and features not found on other pressure washers make this the ideal model for those who detail cars for a living or DIYers who are serious about keeping their vehicles clean. Its max 2,300 PSI can cut through brake dust, sap, and other hard-to-remove substances without damaging the paint.

There’s also a foam cannon attachment designed specifically for soaping vehicles along with controls that allow the user to fine-tune the amount of soap it applies. Reel-style hose storage makes it easy to extend this commercial pressure washer’s hose for cleaning and collect it again when the job is done. The AR Blue Clean also has multiple nozzles for different cleaning applications and a wand extension that makes it simpler to wash large vehicles.

Get the AR Blue Clean pressure washer for cars at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Northern Tool + Equipment, Walmart, or AR Blue Clean.

Jump to Our Top Picks

A spray of water from the best pressure washer for cars hitting a car to rinse it clean.
Photo: istock.com

What to Consider When Choosing a Pressure Washer for a Car

Understanding which pressure and flow rate a pressure washer for cars should have is key to cleaning your car without marring the finish. “It’s important to use the right cleaning products, pressure, and nozzle if you’re thinking about using a pressure washer to clean your car at home as there is a high likelihood of cosmetic damage if it’s done wrong,” says Lee.

Gas vs. Electric 

The vast majority of pressure washers for cars are electric. That’s because most gas-powered pressure washers produce far too much water pressure to use on a car safely.

While most electric pressure washers top out around a maximum of 2,000 PSI, the majority of gas pressure washers have a PSI of 3,200 or more, which, when used with narrower nozzles, can easily damage a car’s paint.

Most electric pressure washers are corded, but there are a few cordless pressure washers. Though these machines don’t produce the same amount of cleaning power, they’re useful when no power outlet is nearby.

PSI and GPM

Pay attention to the amount of water pressure (given in PSI) and its flow rate (given in GPM) when shopping for a pressure washer. Go with models that use around 1,400 to 2,000 PSI and 1.5 to 2.5 GPM water flow. That’s enough water pressure to remove most dirt and grime from the car’s surface without causing damage.

“Many pressure washers come with up to five nozzles, so choosing the best one is key,” Lee says. Use a wider nozzle that’s 25 degrees or above, and keep the tip at least a foot away from the car’s surface at all times. Never use a zero-degree nozzle. It’s also a good idea to test the pressure washer on an inconspicuous part of the car first.

Features

Pressure washers come with various attachments for cleaning. These include nozzles of varying degrees of spray width for applying and rinsing pressure-washer surface cleaner. Pressure washers that come with more nozzles offer more versatility.

The machines can also vary in how they distribute detergents for pressure washers. While some have soap reservoirs built into the pressure washer itself, others use soap applicator bottles that attach to the pressure washer wand. While both are effective, pressure washers with reservoirs can hold more soap and apply more before requiring a refill. Use a pressure washer with a soap cannon that creates a thick lather of soap for better cleaning.

Pressure washers also come with hoses that connect to the pressure-washer base. These hoses vary in length from 20 to 35 feet. The greater the hose length, the more flexibility it has for moving around a car. Choose a pressure washer with a swivel hose that will resist kinking and tangling.

Portability and Storage

Pressure washers vary in size and weight. Smaller portable models are about the size of a tool box, typically weigh under 20 pounds, and come equipped with large handles. These features make them easy to store on a shelf in a shed or garage and carry from storage to the driveway.

Larger pressure washers are bulkier and can weigh 50 pounds or more. Most are equipped with wheels for rolling them from storage to car. Since they’re larger, they take up more storage space in the shed or garage.

FAQs  

Ahead, find quick answers on which PSI pressure washer to use on a car, how a pressure washer differs from a power washer, and whether you can use one of these machines to clean the engine bay.

Q. What is the difference between a pressure washer and a power washer?

The difference between a pressure washer and a power washer is heat. Whereas a pressure washer uses high-pressure cold water to clean off dirt and grime, a power washer uses pressure with hot water. Hot water pressure washers are a better option for removing tougher materials like gum and grease.

Q. What is a good PSI for a pressure washer?

A good PSI for a car pressure washer is between 1,400 and 2,000 PSI. This is enough to clean difficult-to-remove materials from your car’s surface, such as oily grime, salt, and brake dust, while being safe for your car’s paint finish.

Q. Can I use a pressure washer to clean my car’s engine bay?

While it is possible to use a pressure washer to clean your car’s engine bay, it’s risky. Unless you use light pressure with a nozzle that produces a broad spray, you could accidentally force water into seals and electrical components, where it can do more damage than good. Leave this job to professional detailers.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.