There’s no man on the planet who doesn’t love cars. Those that say their car isn’t that important to them are lying through their teeth. If he owns a car, regardless of what state it’s in, he’ll love it with all of his life.
You could spend hundreds of hours under the hood of your car, tweaking this and that to make it run faster or improve its fuel economy, but all of that will be for naught if it looks like garbage from the outside. And if you really want your car’s body to pop, ditch the garden hose and get a pressure washer instead.
What is a Pressure Washer?
A pressure washer is a tool that fires streams of pressurized water. As you can imagine, they provide more pressure than traditional garden hoses (more than 20 times as much) for maximum cleaning power. When you get your car professionally cleaned, the car-cleaning fella is using a pressure washer.
Types of Pressure Washer
Pressure washers fall into one of two categories based on what sort of fuel it uses. There are gas-powered pressure washers and electric pressure washers.
Gas-Powered Pressure Washers
If you plan need a pressure washer for residential use, then you don’t need to consider gas-powered pressure washers. They generate a ton of pressurized water (some models deliver more than 3,000 PSI) for heavy-duty cleaning like erasing graffiti. These are extremely portable since there aren’t any cords to tie you down. You can also use this type of pressure washer to clean a truck if you have one, but for the most part, an electric pressure washer will suit you just fine.
Electric Pressure Washers
Electric pressure washers deliver considerably less power than gas models (around 2,300 PSI maximum) for general outdoor and vehicle cleaning. They’re also better for the environment since they don’t use fossil fuels and shoot out toxic fumes into the atmosphere. However, because they draw power from electrical outlets, they’re not nearly as portable as gas models.
Gas or Electric – Which do I need?
It really depends on what you need it for. Both types can be used for cleaning dirt and grime from patios, gutters, driveways, and vehicles. However, gas models provide much-needed cleaning strength for spray-cleaning brick walls. Of course, you can reduce the amount of pressure shooting out of the spray wand of a gas model, but ultimately you’ll end up paying for extra power that you’ll never use.
Pressure Washer Buying Guide
Finding the right pressure washer can be a difficult task due to the high number of available models. They come with different specs and capacities. In the following section, we’ll go over some of the most important specs to pay attention to when shopping for a pressure washer.
If you plan on washing your car, then note that you won’t need a tremendous amount of power. In fact, too much pressure and you’ll end up denting your car’s body or stripping its paint. In order to safely wash your car, you’ll need a pressure washer that can deliver between 1,200 and 1,900 PSI.
GPM (gallons per minute) is the unit that measures how much water a pressure washer uses. Garden houses and outdoor faucets use as much as 24 GPM, whereas even the most inefficient pressure washer uses less than 3 GPM. Basically, this tool is an investment that helps cut water bills over time.
However, you’ll want to limit how much water is used when spraying your vehicle’s body clean since too much water could end up causing minor dings. The recommended GPM rating for spray-washing your car is between 1.1 and 1.6 GPM.
Since you won’t be turning your car every time you need to wash a different panel, the pressure washer needs to be able to move around without a hitch. Of course, gas pressure washers can be placed anywhere since they don’t use power cords, but if you have an electric model, then you’ll need to consider the length of the cord, the length of the pressure hose, and whether the tool comes with wheels or not. Luckily, all modern electric pressure washers are naturally lightweight right off the assembly line, so a model doesn’t have wheels, lifting and moving it to other spots around your car won’t break your back.
Pressure Adjustment System
Pressure washers can come with one of three pressure adjusting systems – quick-connect tips, variable spray wand, and pressure dial.
QC tips attach to the nozzle-end and alter the spray of the blast. Pressure washers typically come with 0-, 15-, 25-, and 40-degree nozzle tips, along with a tip specifically used for soap.
Variable spray wands have a twisting nozzle or handle that changes the spray area. Some even come with a separate wand to deliver a high-pressure orbital blast for cleaning hard surfaces like driveways and brick walls.
The final pressure adjustment system is an onboard dial that doesn’t affect the fan of the spray but rather how much pressure is shot out. This is the least-used system, but it still works great, and you don’t need to worry about misplacing nozzle tips or spray wands.
There are two ways pressure washers dispense soap – via an onboard tank on SOAP mode or with a separate soap gun.
Choosing one or the other really depends on your personal preference, but we can say this: of all of the models we’ve tried in the past, those with onboard tanks provides the frothiest, most satisfying layer of soap akin to that at a professional car wash.Related Pressure Washer Articles
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Tips on how to Pressure-Wash your Car
This is a bonus section for those of you looking to invest in a pressure washer solely for car-washing purposes. It should be obvious that a pressure washer – a tool that delivers thousands and thousands of PSI – is NOT a toy. Therefore, it should be treated with the same respect as anything that could potentially blast your face off.
Tip 1. Do not use a 0-degree spray with pencil-like precision. It has a higher likelihood of damaging your car and paint, especially when working with more than 1,500 PSI. Stick to the green (25-degree) nozzle for pre-washing and removing dirt from the wheels, and the white (40-degree) nozzle for rinsing off the soap.
Tip 2. Do not use a rotary/orbital spray. This, like the 0-degree nozzle, will exert too much pressure that can harm your baby.
Tip 3. Dilute the detergent. If you don’t, the machine will have a difficult time shooting out the soap and possible leaving an unsatisfyingly thin layer of suds on your car. Check the instructions on the detergent to see how much water to add.
Tip 4. Stand at least one foot away from your car when using a pressure washer. Even if the 25- or 40-degree nozzle is in place, you shouldn’t stand too close to your vehicle. That way you can clean more surface area while reducing the risk of denting any of your car’s panels.
|Best of the Best||Most Popular||Also Great|
|Sun Joe SPX3500||Sun Joe SPX3000||Karcher K5|
| • 2300 PSI
• 1.2L tank
• 1.48 GPM
• 46.5 lbs
| • 2030 PSI
• 0.9L tank
• 1.76 GPM
• 31 lbs
| • 2000 PSI
• 1.0L tank
• 1.4 GPM
• 32 lbs