Top 8 Best Electric Pressure Washers for Auto Detailing (2019)

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What is the best electric pressure washer for car detailing and washing for the money?For cleaning your car, an electric pressure washer like the AR Blue Clean AR383 takes things to a whole new level when compared to a plain old garden hose nozzle.

Add a foam cannon… well now we’re having fun.

There is no denying the satisfaction a foam cannon brings to the car washing experience.

Whether you do or don’t believe in using a foam cannon (come on, live a little, make some foam!) most pressure washing units today have tips that are gentle enough to use on a car’s paint. So, you may still use a pressure washer to clean your car even if you don’t use a foam cannon.

Increasing the pressure of the spray, compared to a regular garden hose nozzle, does help to get your car cleaner before using a wash mit.

For example, spraying the inside of your wheel wells and undercarriage. Using a pressure washer makes that a snap. If you live in the north, you know how important it is to clean out all the salt and other winter road chemicals

So, we asked the obvious question, what are some great pressure washers for cleaning the exterior of a vehicle?

Top 8 Electric Pressure Washers for Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Washing

Benefits of Using an Electric Pressure Washer to Wash Your Car

Let’s start with a brief discussion of the benefits when washing your car. Yes, there are definitely benefits to using an electric pressure washer, like:

  • You can clean road grime from large areas quickly
  • You can remove the most abrasive dirt before using your wash mit which helps prevent scratches
  • Most units provide a way to apply soap/detergent easily
  • Removes leaves and other debris from cracks and other hard to get at places
  • Makes cleaning wheels, wheel wells, and undercarriages fast and easy
  • Cleaning the roof of the car or truck is easier
  • Can remove tough, hard to remove things like bird droppings without hard scrubbing
  • Uses less water than a garden hose

Drawbacks of Using an Electric Pressure Washer to Wash Your Car

While there are several benefits to using a pressure washer, like with all things in life, there are some drawbacks.

First, one caution must be stated before we present a simple bullet list. You can damage your precious paint job. You must know the proper nozzle and pressure to use on your car’s paint or the pressure may be too great and you can actually remove the paint, finish (e.g. on painted plastic parts around lights), or decals and trim. The pressure must be controlled properly to prevent damage.

So that caution stated, we can present our list of drawbacks:

  • The pressure can remove your paint/finish if not set up properly! (I know, but repetition is not bad for important points.)
  • An electric unit requires time and energy to set up. So, no real time savings compared to two bucket hand washing.
  • If using a foam cannon or dispenser, you will use more soap.
  • Can injure skin. Do not put your hand in the jet of water!
  • You are using electricity around lots of water.
  • Electric pressure washers are not free and are more expensive than a couple buckets and a sponge.
  • No matter how well you treat your unit, pressure washers break and require upkeep.

What constitutes a good electric pressure washer for car washing?

A good electric pressure washer must do a few things to be a useful tool for cleaning your car exterior, like:

  • Supply enough power to clean your car, including the hard to remove dirt and grime (pressure ratings alone will not always tell you, the GPM and the tip used for car washing must be considered, not the tip that produces the “highest” PSI).
  • Leave the paint and finishes undamaged. Most units have “gentle” tips for cleaning cars and boats.
  • Have an automatic shut off on the motor when the wand trigger is released. Otherwise, the motor, hoses, and connections will have significantly shorter service lives.
  • Be easy to move around and set up. Wheels help and on-board storage is convenient.
  • Come with a detergent dispenser or be able to accept adapters to fit a foam cannon.
  • Have enough high-pressure hose to prevent rolling the unit behind you every time you move.
  • Protect the user with GFCI protection. Safety first, but some units are harder to plug in because the GFCI is a bulky unit on the end of the cord that is hard to fit into some outlets (like exterior outlets with a door).

One last comment, all the electric pressure washers we present will run on an extension cord. But you must use a 10 or 12-gauge extension cord. Yes, that’s a heavy gauge, and expensive. But, these units draw a fair amount of electricity and you will need that heavy gauge wire to protect your electric supply circuits and the pressure washer.

What to Know About Pressure Washer Fittings and Foam Cannons

There is one issue that must be mentioned while discussing electric pressure washers. The connection and fittings are not standardized. This can become a problem if you own a foam cannon and try to attach it to an electric pressure washer.

Some manufacturers use M22 x 15 mm connections, while others use M22 x 14 mm. And still some use ¼ inch quick connects. These are not the same and if you have a foam cannon, you may not be able to simply attach it to your new pressure washer unless you go out and find an adapter. Not fun!

So, it is important to pay attention to the connections on the various units on the market.

That was a fair amount of introduction, but power tools can be complicated. And we are bringing electricity into an operation that uses a lot of water!

AR Blue Clean AR383

Sale
AR Blue Clean AR383 1,900 PSI Electric...
3,400 Reviews
AR Blue Clean AR383 1,900 PSI Electric...
  • OUTDOOR CLEANING POWER: Make quick cleaning jobs of decks,...
  • ATTACHMENTS INCLUDED: Professional-style pressure washer...
  • ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Conserves water by using 80% less...
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE: Pull it out of the box, insert the hose...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE: Best in class support. Contact us at...

Pros:

  • 1900 psi
  • 13 amp/1.5 hp
  • 5 GPM
  • 20 ft high pressure hose
  • 35 ft power cord
  • 14 oz detergent bottle
  • Quick release fittings
  • On board storage for accessories
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • Weighs 19.5 lbs.
  • 1-year warranty
  • 3,317 reviews on Amazon, average of 3.7 stars

Cons:

  • Switch is on the back, hard to get to
  • Plastic quick connections not as durable as brass
  • Hose does not wind into cradle easily
  • 20-foot hose is on the short side
  • GFCI can be hard to plug into tight outlets
  • Proprietary fittings, third party foam cannons will not fit (they sell their own foam gun as well as an adapter to accept foam guns with 22mm threads.)

The AR Blue Clean AR383 offers a lightweight package at 19.5 pounds on wheels, making it an easy unit to move around. It comes with two wands, one an adjustable spray lance and the other a “turbo” lance.

The AR383 meets all our minimum requirements and can clean your car if you use the right pressure.

And it has its own detergent bottle that attaches to the gun with quick connect ease. If you have your own foam cannon, you will have difficulty using it. This unit has proprietary quick connect fittings and you will need an adapter sold by Annovi Reverberi. Also, the fittings are plastic which are not as durable as metal.

Several users had trouble with the hose reel. The high-pressure hose is stiff and can be hard to roll onto the reel.

The GFCI protection is housed in a “box” on the end of the power cord, and it plugs directly into the outlet. This can be a problem if the outlet is constricted by surrounding plugs or an exterior outlet door/cover.

The twenty feet of high pressure hose is adequate, but many users would like another ten feet for freer movement around the car. Though, the power cord is thirty-five feet long, allowing some mobility.

The unit does come with a one-year warranty, the shortest coverage period on our list.

If you want a basic, cost effective unit, this one is on the low end of the price range.

 

AR Blue Clean AR390SS

Sale
AR Annovi Reverberi AR390SS Electric...
709 Reviews
AR Annovi Reverberi AR390SS Electric...
  • OUTDOOR CLEANING POWER: Easy and quick for decks, patios,...
  • HIGHLY RATED: Top rated Consumer Report 2016 electric...
  • ATTACHMENTS INCLUDED: Professional-style pressure washer...
  • ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Conserves water by using 80% less...
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE: Pull it out of the box, insert the hose...

Pros:

  • 2000 psi
  • 14 amp/1.6 hp
  • 4 GPM
  • 30 ft high pressure hose
  • 35 ft power cord
  • 48 oz detergent tank
  • Four quick connect tips/nozzles
  • Metal quick couple nozzle fittings on wand (¼ in.)
  • M22 x 15mm connections for hose and gun
  • On board storage for accessories
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • Weighs 32 lbs.
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • No detergent bottle or foam cannon
  • The quick connect soap nozzle not real effective and many found did not work after a few uses
  • Various complaints about the hose reel
  • GFCI is at end of cord, hard to plug into some outlets

The AR Blue Clean AR390SS takes things up a notch. It weighs 32 pounds but is on wheels and mobile. It is supplied with a wand and four nozzles that pop into the tip using the supplied metal quick connections.

Other than the “soap” tip/nozzle designed to work with the onboard detergent tank, there is no detergent bottle or foam gun. However, you can attach third party foam cannons using the ¼ quick connect on the wand or you can use the M22 x 15 mm connection on the gun (note it is the 15mm connection, not the more common 14 mm). Depending on your foam cannon, you may or may not need an adapter.

There is thirty feet of high pressure hose, so that is plenty to move around without having to wheel the unit around every time you want to move.

There were some complaints about the hose reel. It can be difficult to get hose to feed out and to coil the hose back onto it.

And like its sister unit previously reviewed, the GFCI protection is housed in a “box” on the end of the power cord. This can be a problem if the outlet is constricted by surrounding plugs or an exterior outlet door/cover.

This unit is more expensive than the AR383, but not the most expensive unit on our list.

The 1-year warranty is good, but the shortest coverage period for the electric pressure washers on our list.

One final note, maybe it’s me but I found I had to be careful to find the right information for Annovi Reverberi pressure washers. The S or SS after name is important. A unit with no “S” is different than one with an “S”. And an “SS” is a whole other unit. So, pay attention to the product name to make sure you are looking at the unit you are searching for.

 

SunJoe Pressure Joe SPX3000

Sale
Sun Joe SPX3000 Pressure Joe 2030 PSI...
6,728 Reviews
Sun Joe SPX3000 Pressure Joe 2030 PSI...
  • POWERFUL MOTOR: Powerful 14.5-amp/1800-Watt motor generates...
  • VERSATILE: Tackle a variety of cleaning tasks: homes,...
  • TSS (Total Stop System): Automatically shuts off pump when...
  • QUICK-CONNECT SPRAY TIPS: 5 Quick-Connect spray tips (0º,...
  • PRESSURE: Max rating per CSA test standards. Maximum...

Pros:

  • 2030 psi
  • 5 amp/1800W motor
  • 76 GPM
  • 20 ft high pressure hose
  • 35 ft power cord
  • Dual Detergent 30.4 oz tanks with on board storage
  • Five quick connect tips/nozzles
  • Metal quick couple tip/nozzle fittings on wand
  • M22 x 15mm connections for hose and gun
  • ¼ quick connect on end of wand
  • On board storage for accessories
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • 34 in extension wand
  • Weighs 31 lbs.
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • No hose reel
  • No detergent bottle or foam gun
  • 20 ft. hose is short for some
  • GFCI is on end of power cord, may be hard to plug in
  • GFCI seemed to be too sensitive to moisture for some users

The SunJoe Pressure Joe SPX3000 is a well-reviewed product. You don’t see a 4.2 Star rating on many items after over 5000 reviews. Plus, it meets many of the needs for washing your car.

It is supplied with five tips to adjust the power/type of spray (one is for spraying the soap from the onboard tanks). There is a “hook” to store your power cord. However, there is no hose reel.

There is no detergent bottle or foam gun with this unit, but it is supplied with onboard dual 30.4 oz detergent tanks controlled with a dial on the unit. So, you can go mobile with two different cleaners just a dial spin away. And if you want to use your foam cannon, you can attach it to the ¼ in. quick connect on the end of the wand, or to the gun with an M22 x 15mm connection. (Note: connection is NOT the 14mm found on many other electric pressure washers.)

This unit has a 2-year warranty and is priced in the middle of the pack. Overall, it is a good value.

It also comes with a needle clean out tool, which is nice for keeping your pressure washer in shape.

And like many pressure washers, the GFCI is on the end of the power cord. So, if you have a tight outlet, that may be an issue for you. Also, for some reason, I noticed several users complaining about the GFCI tripping very easily if it got near even just a few drops of water. It was the only unit reviewed where the ground fault seemed to trip too soon.

 

SunJoe Pressure Joe SPX3001

Sale
Sun Joe SPX3001 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5...
1,620 Reviews
Sun Joe SPX3001 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5...
  • POWERFUL MOTOR: Powerful 14. 5-amp/1800-Watt motor generates...
  • QUICK-CONNECT SPRAY TIPS: 5 Quick-Connect spray tips (0º,...
  • ONBOARD REEL: Onboard reel keeps 20 ft. (6m) high pressure...
  • TSS (Total Stop System): Automatically shuts off pump when...
  • DETERGENT TANK: Extra large onboard 40. 6 fl oz. (1. 2 l)...

Pros:

  • 2030 psi
  • 5 amp/1800W motor
  • 76 GPM
  • 20 ft high pressure hose
  • 35 ft power cord
  • 6 oz. on board detergent tank
  • Five quick connect tips/nozzles
  • Metal quick couple tip/nozzle fittings on wand
  • M22 x 15mm connections for hose and gun
  • ¼ quick connect on end of wand
  • On board storage for accessories
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • 34 in extension wand
  • Weighs 32 lbs.
  • 2 year warranty

Cons:

  • 20 ft. hose is short for some
  • Hose reel hard to use
  • No detergent bottle or foam cannon
  • GFCI protection on end of power cord

The SunJoe SPX3001 is similar to the SPX3000 just reviewed, but with a hose reel and one large detergent tank, instead of two smaller ones.

And like its sister unit, it is missing a detergent bottle or foam cannon. It does have an onboard 40.6 oz tank that applies cleaner with the soap nozzle. And you can attach your own foam cannon with ¼ in quick connects on the wand or an M22 x 15mm to the gun. (Note the larger 15mm, not the more common 14mm.)

It comes with 20 feet of high pressure hose, which is a bit on the short side, leaving many users wishing for another 10 feet of hose. If a hose reel is important to you, then this is your SunJoe model because it does include one.

Like most units, the GFCI is on the end of the cord, so you need room at the outlet.

The 2-year warranty is a plus and the price puts it in the middle of the pack for expense.

 

Stanley SHP2000

Sale
Stanley SHP2000 Electric Power Washer,...
53 Reviews
Stanley SHP2000 Electric Power Washer,...
  • Powerful cleaning force: perfect for siding, decks, cement,...
  • Save water over a garden hose: up to 80% over a standard...
  • More features: on-board hose reel for easy storage of the...
  • Leak-proof connections: professional Grade brass garden hose...
  • Warranty and customer support: your new pressure washer is...

Pros:

  • 2000 psi
  • 13-amp motor
  • 4 GPM
  • 30 ft. high pressure hose
  • 35 ft power cord
  • 28 oz. Foam cannon included
  • Four quick connect tips/nozzles
  • Metal quick couple tip/nozzle fittings on wand
  • Brass garden hose adapter
  • M22 x 15mm connections
  • ¼ in. quick connect on end of wand
  • On board storage for accessories
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • Weighs 31 lbs.
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • GFCI on end of power cord.

The Stanley SHP2150 hose is more flexible than some of the other units, and that is a welcome improvement over the rigid hose on many of the units. There is also a reel to store the hose.

The garden hose adapter is brass, a nice upgrade to the plastic adapter on most of the electric pressure washers on the market. Who doesn’t like upgrades?

Fittings on this unit allow you to attach your own foam cannon, if you are so inclined, but note the M22 x 15mm connections. Or you can use the ¼ quick connect on the wand. Some users felt using a foam cannon attached to the end of the wand got a bit heavy after a while so I recommend picking up a cannon with the M22 x 15mm threads (or an adapter) to use the foam cannon directly on the gun.

The 2-year warranty is sign of the manufacturer’s pride in the product. While the price is it at the high end of our price range.

And I hate to repeat myself so much, but I hope the manufacturers pay attention. Please do not put the GFCI right on the end of the power cord. It makes plugging it in hard with some outlets.

 

Karcher K4 Premium Electric Power

Sale
Karcher K4 120V Electric Power Pressure...
446 Reviews
Karcher K4 120V Electric Power Pressure...
  • Cleaner. Quicker.
  • 1900 PSI, 1.5 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
  • 25 foot high pressure hose
  • Vario Power Spray wand - easily adjust spray right from the...
  • Dirtblaster spray wand - tackles the hardest jobs in half...

Pros:

  • 1900 psi
  • 13-amp motor
  • 5 GPM
  • 25 ft. high pressure hose
  • Hose reel
  • 35 ft power cord
  • Two wands, one a variable pressure and the other a “dirt blaster”
  • Water cooled induction motor
  • On board, removable detergent tank
  • Adjustable detergent flow
  • Proprietary twist to lock connections of wand to gun
  • Metal quick couple fittings to attach hose to gun
  • On board storage for second wand
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • Weighs 32 lbs.
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Plastic garden hose connector
  • Proprietary fittings make attaching your foam cannon difficult
  • Fittings are plastic, twist lock to connect wand to gun
  • GFCI on end of power cord, may be hard to plug in

Karcher is a well-known name in the pressure washer world, and the K4 Premium is an easy to use unit. It comes with two wands, one with adjustable pressure and the other for serious blasting of dirt.

There is an onboard, removable detergent tank and you can vary the soap flow.

You can also get a seperate foam gun manufactured by Karcher, with their proprietary fittings. To attach your own foam gun, you need a special adapter from Karcher.

If you don’t like swapping tips, this machine has a variable wand. You simply twist the nozzle to change the pressure. This also means you don’t have to keep track/store multiple tips.

The warranty of 2 years is expected at this price point. This is priced on the high end of our range. And for this price, I was surprised to find so many plastic fittings on the unit.

And yes, the GFCI is on the end of the power cord. By now, you know I am not a fan of this design.

 

Greenworks GPW2002

Greenworks 2000 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM...
39 Reviews
Greenworks 2000 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM...
  • Heavy duty 13 Amp induction motor will strip, brighten and...
  • 2000PSI and 1.2GPM makes removing stains effortless
  • 25 ft. high pressure hose and 35 ft. power cord allow you to...
  • Can be used vertically or horizontally for greater stability
  • Compact design with wheels, high pressure hose reel and...

Pros:

  • 2000 psi
  • 13-amp motor
  • 2 GPM
  • 25 ft. high pressure hose
  • Hose reel
  • Four quick connect spray tips/nozzle
  • 35 ft. power cord
  • Power cord keeper
  • On board detergent tank
  • Can be used vertical or horizontal
  • Metal ¼ in. quick connect fittings
  • On board storage
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • GFCI is not on end of power cord
  • Weighs 37 lbs.
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • Hose seems to be a problem for some users

The Greenworks GPW2002 is built to be mobile. It has large wheels and can be used vertically or horizontally. And it has enough high-pressure hose and power cord to get around your car.

The ¼ in. quick connect fittings allow you to attach your own foam cannon, or you can use the foam gun manufactured by Greenworks.

The price for this unit puts it squarely in the middle of the pack and it includes a 1-year warranty.

For those of you who read all the pressure washer details, surprise! The GFCI is not on the end of the power cord. Hurrah! Easy plug in, even in those tight outlets.

You get three different tips and a turbo spray nozzle and there is onboard storage for these accessories.

For the price, there is much to like.

 

Ryobi 2000 psi Pressure Washer

Sale
Ryobi RY141900 2,000-PSI 1.2 GPM...
36 Reviews
Ryobi RY141900 2,000-PSI 1.2 GPM...
  • 2,000-PSI 1.2 GPM for efficient cleaning of residential...
  • Powerful 13 Amp electric motor
  • Pressure technology delivers maximum cleaning power
  • 25 ft. non-marring high pressure hose will not leave scuffs...
  • Removable detergent tank for easy soap application

Pros:

  • 2000 psi
  • 13-amp motor
  • 2 GPM
  • 25 ft. high pressure hose
  • Non-marring hose
  • 35 ft. power cord w/ GFCI
  • on board, removable detergent tank
  • 3 quick-connect spray tips/turbo nozzle
  • Metal quick couple tip/nozzle fittings on wand
  • M22 x 14mm connections on hose
  • On board storage for accessories
  • Auto power shut off when trigger is released
  • Weighs 32 lbs.
  • 3-year warranty
  • Hose reel

Cons:

  • Missing a foam cannon or detergent bottle.
  • Hose reel abandoned by some users
  • The 1.2 GPM is on low end of flow

Last but not least, we make a stop at Home Depot to add the Ryobi 2000 psi Pressure Washer to our list. I must admit, it was worth the trip.

This unit offers a lot but is also the second most expensive unit on our list. But you do get a 3-year warranty, a non-marring hose (nice upgrade!) and metal quick connections.

The unit is fitted with a removable, onboard detergent tank that works with the soap nozzle. Also, there is a holder for the various tips the pressure washer uses.

It does not come with a foam cannon or detergent bottle. However, the fittings on the gun/wand are ¼ in. quick connect. And the hose is M22 x 14mm. So, attaching your own foam cannon should not be a problem.

It is also the only unit on our list to be housed in a metal cage. So, it looks more like a gas-powered unit than it does an electric power washer.

And, yes, the GFCI in NOT on the end of the power cord. You can use that outdoor outlet with the protective, spring loaded door that makes space tight right at the outlet.

If you are willing to spend a little money, this is a versatile unit that will wash your car, and a whole lot more!

 

Gas vs Electric Pressure Washer for Car Washing

There is nothing wrong with using a gas pressure washer for car washing versus an electric pressure washer. The only caveat with gas pressure washers is they are usually much more powerful than electric pressure washers so you have to be careful with which nozzle you use and the distance from which you wash the car.

Gas pressure washers are more mobile since they don’t have an electric cord but they are also louder and much more expensive on average.

The reason I focused on electric pressure washers for this post was because that is what most car enthusiasts and detailers are interested in because of the ease of the access and affordability.

Power Washer vs Pressure Washer

Many people unaware that there is a difference between power washers and pressure washers and thus use the words interchangeably.

Simply put, power washers spray heated water. Pressure washers spray cold water. You don’t want to hook up a pressure washer to a hot water line. The internals are not meant to handle hot water and will degrade very quickly.

When it comes to washing cars, heated water from a power washer doesn’t provide any meaningful benefits and heated water can even be dangerous if you are cleaning a car during the winter with very cold glass. The heated water can cause thermal shock to the glass and other materials and cause it to crack.

Summary

If you have a foam cannon and intend on using it, you will need to get a washer with fittings that will work with what you have.

And if you are tight on space at that outlet (covered outdoor outlets for example), the Ryobi 2000 or Greenworks GPW 2002. These two units keep the GFCI back a bit from the end of the cord, meaning you have a standard size plug at the outlet, and not a bulky box.

For someone looking for a hard working unit, with “standard” fittings that will accept your preferred foam cannon, the Ryobi 2000 is a good choice.

You can’t go wrong with any of these units. So, hopefully this guide has armed you with the information to zero on the electric pressure washer that will work for you and you can now take your car washing routine to the next level. Happy Detailing!

2 thoughts on “Top 8 Best Electric Pressure Washers for Auto Detailing (2019)

  1. Reply
    Dean Roberts - December 27, 2018

    Most pressure washers come with a detergent bottle and a soap tip. Why wouldn’t you just use that instead of a foam cannon?

    1. Reply
      Brian - December 28, 2018

      In my personal experience the volume/thickness of the foam generated from a foam cannon is much greater than achieved by the soap dispenser in conjunction with a soap tip. The foam cannon aerates the soap/water mixture much better. Thicker foam sticks to and coats the car better, which is what people are generally after when they are foaming their car. There isn’t much more to it than that.

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