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Leaf blowers make convenient car dryers. They are sold practically everywhere and can be very affordable by nature of supply and demand. The drawback to how plentiful they are is that there is a lot to choose from.
You have everything from corded and cordless leaf blowers to turbine, brush-less, and centrifugal varieties. The upside is that when you look at them from the context of drying a car the options quickly widdle down to just a couple viable options such as my favorite the Toro 51585 Power Sweep.
Top Leaf Blowers for Drying a Car:
|Toro 51585 Power Sweep Electric Leaf...||Check Price at Amazon|
|Greenworks 40V (150 MPH) Cordless Leaf...||Check Price at Amazon|
Why would anyone want to use a leaf blower to dry a car?
There are several reasons you might consider using a leaf blower to dry your car.
It’s Safer than a Towel
The less you touch your car the better.
No matter how soft your towel is, there is still the risk of dirt particles making their way between your towel and your paint, especially if you washed your car outside where dirt and pollen are constantly floating around.
When these particles get trapped in the nap of your towel you end up inadvertently dragging them across your paint and instilling tiny scratches.
The majority of scratches in a car’s paint are actually the fault of the owner, usually a result of good intentions sadly.
You can spend all day trying to dry your car with a quality microfiber towel and still not get all of the water. This means you’ve increased the chance of scratching your paint with the towel and still end up with drips and dribbles from emblems, mirrors, body seams, and so on.
A leaf blower will do a much better job of blasting water out of its’ hiding places.
I would rather blow as much water out and off as possible and then use a quick detailer and a towel to fix any spots left behind.
This will reduce the chances of marring your paint while achieving that flawless finish.
Provided your car or truck has been dressed with a high quality LSP (wax, sealant, coating), and you sheet the water with the hose, you’ll find blowing the remaining water off to be just as fast, if not faster, than drying with a towel.
Walking around your car with a light weight leaf blower is much easier than constantly kneeling down with a towel. You’ll save your back and your knees.
You also don’t have to stretch to reach over the top of your vehicle.
Admit it. Half the fun of using waxes and sealants is watching the water bead up and roll off like mercury.
It’s quite satisfying being in control of the force that moves the water down and off of your car.
Are leaf blowers safe to use to dry your car?
Leaf blowers are perfectly safe for drying your car as long as you understand a few things about them and take the necessary precautions.
That leads me to….
What You Need to Know Before Buying an Electric Leaf Blower for Drying a Car
There are some caveats to be aware of before purchasing a leaf blower with the intention of using it on your car, truck, or motorcycle.
Unlike purpose built drying blowers, leaf blowers do not have air filtration. The air they suck in is the same air they spit out onto your paint.
This is why I do not recommend buying a leaf blower with the intention of using it for yard work as well. You don’t want dirt, dust, and debris to be blown out onto your wet car when you go to dry it.
This is not because it’s going to scratch it. There no more risk of that happening than your car getting scratched while driving down the road at 70mph.
This is because the dirt blown through the blower collects in the water and you end up with streaks and spots as the water is pushed off the car that you then have to go back and wipe up with a quick detailer and microfiber towel to get a perfect finish.
It’s also for the above reason that I do not recommend oiled gas leaf blowers for drying cars. They are even more prone to regurgitating dirt and contaminants.
Also, leaf blowers have hard plastic tips on them. There is no protection if you accidentally poke the paint on your car. This means you want to find a leaf blower that is light and easy to handle to reduce the chances of smacking your car with it.
Leaf blowers have fixed nozzles that aren’t always optimized for moving air in a controlled manner. They usually do not accept any kind of accessories for detailed drying work such as removing water from emblems, scoops, seams, and light pockets.
Most of the larger brush-less and turbine style leaf blowers, like the Worx WG520, have very large openings at their nozzle. These do not work well for coaxing water off of paint. They move a lot of air but have no directional control. The air just blows everywhere and you end up chasing water droplets all day.
Another thing to consider is the air speed and flow rating vary wildly on leaf blowers. You need both air speed (mph or miles per hour) and air volume (cfm or cubic feet per minute).
You’ll notice many of the larger brushless and turbine style blowers have high cfm ratings but low mph ratings. This means they move a lot of air but not very quickly.
Add that to the fact that these blowers already have nozzles that are inefficient at moving water and you can pretty much rule these out.
My minimum recommendation for air speed and volume in a leaf blower destined for auto detail work is around 160mph and 150cfm together.
Fortunately, you can find these ratings in incredibly cheap leaf blowers of both the corded and cordless variety.
Once you starting moving above these ratings the costs of the blower quickly starts to rise and you might as well go out and purchase a dedicated car drying blower which I have written about in my article about The Best Blowers for Drying a Car.
Leaf blowers, and most yard equipment, are loud. There isn’t usually a lot of emphasis in acoustics during their design.
I’m a big safety nut so I have to recommend that you use hearing protection when drying your car with a leaf blower. A good rule of thumb is that if whatever you’re using requires you to raise your voice to talk to someone 3 feet away then you’re experiencing sustained hearing damage.
You only get two ears. Protect them.
Electric vs Battery vs Gas Leaf Blower for Drying Your Car
Gas leaf blowers tend to be the loudest and heaviest. If it’s a 2-stroke you also have to worry about mixing fuel and oil and other maintenance tasks. Plus, they are expensive. If you have already one that’s one thing. If you’re considering buying one, I think a cheap dedicated electric leaf blower is better.
Battery powered leaf blowers work just as well as corded electric these days. They just cost a whole lot more. I have nothing against battery powered leaf blowers other than the price. It’s up to you to determine if the extra cost is worth not having to deal with the power cord (which likes to get caught on things and can fall into your car).
For me, the reason to consider a leaf blower over a dedicated car drying blower like the McKee’s 37 and Metro offerings is cost savings and ease of accessibility. That makes the corded leaf blowers my preferred options.
Leaf Blower vs Air Compressor for Drying Your Car
Air compressors can work for car drying but it can be a laborious task. The blow gun nozzles most compressors come with concentrate the air too much. You can find wide nozzles but they aren’t common.
You also have to consider tank size. Unless you have an extremely large air compressor your tank is going to run out before you finish and the motor will kick in.
When the motor is running their is a large amount of water and oil that accumulates in the air that get blown out. Because of this you’ll want a good coalescing filter inline else you’ll blow that onto the car.
If you have all that, go nuts, but most people don’t and the investment is considerable.
Best Corded Electric Leaf Blower for Drying a Car – Toro 51585 Power Sweep
- Generates powerful air speed of 160 mph
- Lightweight and easy to use at only 4.6-pounds
- 2-speed air control for greater versatility.Product type:...
- Perfect for clearing leaves and debris from sidewalks, deck...
- 7 amp motor
- Air speed of 160 mph
- Air volume of 155 cfm
- Weight of 4.6-pounds
- 2-speed air control
- 2-year full warranty
- Cord not included
- Good air speed to volume ratio
- Small nozzle for directional air water control
- Light weight and compact
- Super affordable
- Cord not included
- Hard Plastic Nozzle
If you’re going to buy a leaf blower dedicated to drying your car, and you don’t mind power cords, the Toro Power Sweep is the best option. It’s very cheap in price yet still gets the job done due to having decent air speed and volume at the nozzle. The shape of the nozzle concentrates the air enough that you control the direction that you blow water off the car so you don’t spend all afternoon chasing droplets.
The unit is also light weight at just over 4 1/2 pounds and compact in size so it’s easy to wield and move around the car without accidentally smacking your paint.
It comes with a decent warranty of 2 years and good ratings on durability and reliability so you should have no problem getting your money’s worth out of it.
The drawback to this unit is it’s on the louder size of leaf blowers. To move a lot of air in a cheap and small package you have to sacrifice somewhere. Considering the short time you’ll have this running to dry your car it’s not the worst thing you could have to deal with but it needed to be mentioned.
You’ll also have provide your own extension cord if you buy this unit since one does not come with it. Given the 7 amp motor I recommend at minimum a quality 50ft 16 ga extension cord such as this one.
All-in-all I believe the Toro Power Sweep is the best leaf blower for drying a car for the money.
Best Cordless Electric Leaf Blower for Drying a Car – GreenWorks 24252 G-MAX
- New GMAX 40-volt 2.0 amp hour lithium ion battery provides...
- Variable speed motor delivers max speeds of 150 MPH
- Extension tube helps increase reach and blower efficiency
- Lightweight design provides easier control over the unit
- 40V 2.0 Ah Battery
- 150 mph
- 135 cfm
- 7 lb weight
- Variable Speed
- 35 minute run time
- 4 year warranty
- Light weight
- Variable speed
- Good nozzle design
- Long warranty
- Battery interchangeable with other tools
- Decent air speed
- Quieter than average
- Less than ideal air volume
If you’re looking for a cordless leaf blower for drying a car off the GreenWorks 24252 is a great option. It pushes a little less air than I would prefer but it’s still up to the task on a properly washed and waxed or sealed car. It still has good air speed so you’ll have no problem moving water. You’ll just have a smaller dry path with each pass leaving a little more work on your part.
It makes up for the lower air volume with light weight and compact size. It’s one of the lightest battery operated leaf blowers in this power and run time range. This blower is also much quieter than other similar units. The speed is also variable allowing you to control how aggresive you’re blowing water around when you’re trying to dry out tight spaces.
The battery in this unit is also interchangeable with other GreenWorks G-Max tools should own any or plan to which could amount to more cost savings in the future. I also like the 4 year warranty which gives you plenty of time to get your money’s worth out of the unit.
Are there better options? Only if you’re stuck on using a leaf blower. To get more power or features you’re going to have to pay more. That will put you in the range of a dedicated car drying blower. If you can justify that (I can’t) then you can look at some higher priced options such as the GreenWorks 24322 which is rated at 185 mph, 340 cfm, and 60 minutes of run time and costs just north of $200.
Given the pros and cons of this leaf blower I definitely think it’s one of the best cordless electric leaf blowers for drying a car for the money.
Tips When Using a Leaf Blower to Dry Your Car
Mind Your Surroundings
You don’t want to use forced air to dry your car where there is a large risk of dust, this includes gravel driveways and dusty shops. You’ll just kick dirt up onto the car.
One trick is to wet the ground around your car before you blow dry it. If you’re drying in the same spot you washed then you should be covered since the ground will already be wet.
Don’t Waste Time Chasing Every Drop
There will be a point where you’ll have most of the water blown off and there are still a few little drops that you end up chasing off the car.
For those drops just spritz on a quick detailer and wipe the spot dry with a quality microfiber towel.
You’ll save a lot of time this way.
Your Leaf Blower Can Do More than Just Drying Paint and Windows
You can use your leaf blower for a multitude of drying tasks including blowing water out of your engine bay after washing it and using it to dry other vehicles like motorcycles, ATVs, PWCs, and so on.
All of these things are full of tiny crevices and pockets where water will hide and are virtually impossible to dry with a towel.
Provided going to use your leaf blower for drying your car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicles you can’t go wrong with the Toro Power Sweep. If you must have cordless then then the GreenWorks 24252 G-MAX is a great option.
I recommend you keep the use of these blowers to car drying. Since leaf blowers don’t filter air you risk blowing remnants of your yard work on your wet paint and leaving spots you have to wipe up. It’s a very small risk and a bit of an obsessive concern but I’m OCD like that.
Either unit will be sufficient for drying off your car and leaving little work for you do with a quality drying towel.
If you want to look at tools designed specifically for drying cars, trucks, and motorcycles I recommend reading my article on The Best Blowers for Drying a Car.
No matter what you go with, I think you’ll find it a handy addition to your cleaning arsenal. Happy detailing!