Is It Safe To Wash A Car With A Pressure Washer?

So you are probably thinking of washing your car at home instead of the car wash, but you just don’t know is it safe to wash your car with a pressure washer. Thank you for actually going online and doing a research before using a pressure washer. I have some important information for you.

There are many ways you can injure yourself. If you accidentally spray your foot or hand, you can end up with having torn skin and tissue. You can also damage your car with a pressure washer if you don’t know what you are doing. There are some parts of the car that are not simply not strong enough to withstand the highly pressurized water generated from the washer. Let me explain more.

There are more things that you need to know before you start washing your car with a pressure washer. I looked into this matter and came up with a list of things you need to know about pressure washing your car.

How To Safely Pressure Wash Your Car?

If it’s your first-time pressure washing your car, take it easy. Start with being 2 feet away from your car, and move closer if needed. Make sure you are wearing goggles, long pants and shoes. Do not wear flip-flops. Watch out for slippery surfaces. More people end up in the emergency room with injuries related to pressure washers than you think. Please, I beg you, do not feel curious about what it feels like to spray your foot or hand. The velocity of the water is strong enough to tear your skin which may lead to bacterial infection if not treated.

How Long Can You Drive With Bad Lif...
How Long Can You Drive With Bad Lifters?

Now that we got the safety part out of the way, let me give you some tips on how to properly wash your car with a pressure washer.

How To Clean Your Fuel Tank Without Removing It

How To Get Started

  1. (Ideally) Park your car on a concrete/asphalt surface.
  2. Turn on your pressure washer.
  3. Use your nozzle with wide spray pattern.
  4. Keep a distance of 2 feet at the beginning, then come closer as you get more comfortable with your pressure washer.
  5. Rinse your car with plain water.
  6. Change the pressure washer tip and apply detergent/soap to your car.
  7. Leave the detergent/soap for 5 minutes.
  8. Use a car brush to clean any dirt.
  9. Rinse off the detergent/soap from top to bottom.

How To Wash Your Tires and Rims With A Pressure Washer

There are some things that you need to be careful about. Like I said before, some parts are not made to withstand the pressurized water. One of those parts are TIRES. It takes only 5 seconds of direct spraying at the tire sidewall to damage or weaken a tire. So if your tires are old and ‘shabby’, it’s best if you hand wash them.

When it comes to washing your rims, it’s pretty safe to do it with a pressure washer. The main issue that you will run into is not being able to clean the residue left from breaking. So, we suggest to spray some oven cleaner and leave it for 5 minutes. After that, pressure wash it and you should have shiny rims.

Should You Wash The Interior With A Pressure Washer

Let me start off by saying this is probably the worst idea that one can think of. Washing the inside of your car with a pressure washer can only damage your interior. The highly pressurized water will tear your seats and ceiling, destroy your dashboard and radio. If some of the interior ”survives the flood”, it will take forever for it to dry, and drying too long will bring that awkward smell, which is hard to get rid of. So, please, grab a brush, roll your sleeves and put in the hard work.

Pressure Washing Your Engine

Engines are kind of a ‘forgotten places’ when it comes to cleaning, and with all the oil spills and dust, they can get pretty dirty. I remember my first car, a 1995 Opel. I took pretty good care of the car, cleaned the interior and exterior often. But never the engine. To be honest, I just didn’t want to do something wrong and mess up my perfectly working engine. I mean, who cares if it’s dirty, as long as its working fine. But, if you decided to clean your engine, I will explain how to do it without messing something up.

  1. Make sure you pick a warm day. Drying off the engine is pretty essential.
  2. Remove your car battery. Wrap your positive and negative battery terminal ( separately ) with plastic bags, or something that is water resistant.
  3. Wrap the sensitive electrical parts like alternator and distributor. You can again use some plastic bags and tape.

Best Pressure Washers For Cars

Do wash your car you will obviously need a pressure washer. I did a research and came up with a couple of pressure washers that you should take a look at and eventually buy. Ideally, you need around 1200 to 1900 PSI for a good wash, but having little extra PSI can’t do harm. Here are the best pressure washers that i have used:

  1. Ryobi RY142300 2300 PSI Brushless Electric Pressure Washer. This washer has extra large wheels which makes it hard to tip over, a very long hose, a high-end induction motor and nicely designed GFCI plug. This is probably the most user-friendly pressure washer.

  2. Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer. This is a budget-friendly pressure washer. This model has a shorter hose, cable, and smaller wheels. It’s not as good as Ryobi, but it is around $100 cheaper.

  3. Ryobi RY803001 3000 PSI Honda Pressure Washer. This is a Gas pressure washer and cleans twice as fast as an electric washer. It has the same features as his electrical ‘brother’ but it’s louder, bigger, needs fuel and more maintenance.

What Kind Of Soap To Use To Wash A Car?

Some people wash their car with household soaps and detergents. This option is cheaper, but it’s not the most effective. Household soap can strip the wax from the paint. There is a little science behind this. We totally recommend using car soap.

If you are washing your car in Winter, you should use a car soap with wax in it. Wax helps protect the paint on your car and helps prevent rust from forming.
If you are washing your car in the Summer, just buy regular car soap.

Are You Familiar With Car Depreciation?

Can I Wash My Car On The Driveway?

Did you know that washing your car on the driveway can cost you up to $1000? Not sure if you knew, but pouring chemicals into the storm-water system is illegal in some states. You get the point right? Washing your car requires a soap or detergent which is a….chemical. The police will not strictly check for people who wash their cars on the driveway, but if they get a complaint, they must respond. Therefore, it is best if you can wash your car in your backyard.

Is It Cheaper Than A Car Wash?

This is a great question. I love doing some extra work in order to save some cash. Little here, little there, that’s how you fill up a piggy bank :). So, maybe you want to wash your car at home just because you love your car, or you want to save money. Let’s break it down to what material you need and how much it costs.

Pressure Washer: A decent washer pressure costs around $200-300. You can also use this pressure washer for other stuff, it doesn’t have to be strictly for your car. Many people wash their pavements, sidewalks, even the house roofs with pressure washers.

Water: A standard pressure washer with an automatic shut-off nozzle will need around 30 gallons per vehicle. On the other hand, a garden hose can spend around 100 gallons per vehicle.

Soap: A nice car wash soap with wax costs around $35. You can use this soap to wash your car at least 36 times.

Do the math. Is it cheaper or more expensive?

My Pressure Washer Won’t Start. How To Troubleshoot It?

If your pressure washer is having a bad day, and won’t start, here are some common causes:

Electric Pressure Washer:

  1. First, check your power cord to see if it’s dislodged from the electrical outlet.
  2. The problem could be your power socket, so try using a different one.
  3. If your washer turns on but makes a humming noise, it’s probably a faulty capacitor. But still, you need to get your electrical washer checked out.

Gas Pressure Washers: 

  1. Check your spark plug for signs of damage. If the porcelain insulator is damaged, replace the spark plug.
  2. Check your carburetor. If you leave fuel in your pressure washer, over time it can clog the carburetor. Try cleaning it with carburetor cleaner.
  3. If your ignition coil is defective and sends voltage to the spark plug, the engine may not start.

Thank you for taking your time to read my article. I hope the information provided answered your question. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. I will be more than happy to answer it.

Is your engine oil due for a change? Visit our Car Fluid Guide Website to learn the importance of changing your oil on time, which type of engine oil is best for your vehicle, and much more.

Car Care Hacks

Hi there. I am a certified Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) mechanic since 2018 and a car detailer for 10 years.

Recent Content