Best Pressure Washers for Car Detailing 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide

Last Updated on December 17, 2021 by Mark Johnson

a pressure washer for car detailing

Buying the right pressure washer can feel like a high-pressure ordeal. Shopping online can make that feeling worse since manufacturers aren’t shy about hyping up what their products can do, and then underdelivering.

If you want to get great value for your money and find the right pressure washer for detailing your car, then you’ve come to the right place. Our reviews of the best pressure washers of 2020 are designed to help you find a model that you’ll love using at a price you’ll love, too. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide. So if this is your first time shopping for a pressure washer, you can learn everything you need to know before you buy.

Our Top 5 Favorite Picks of 2021

ModelPriceWeightEditor Rating
Generac 7019 OneWash 3100 PSI
Generac 7019 OneWash 3100 PSI
(Top Pick)

Check Price
57 lbs3.8/5
Sun Joe SPX3000
Sun Joe SPX3000

Check Price
31 lbs4.2/5
Greenworks GPW1501
Greenworks GPW1501
(Best for the Money)

Check Price
17 lbs4.0/5
Karcher K5 Premium 16033610
Karcher K5 Premium 16033610

Check Price
32 lbs3.5/5
AR Blue Clean AR383
AR Blue Clean AR383

Check Price
27 lbs3.6/5

5 Best Pressure Washers for Car Detailing

1. Generac 7019 OneWash 3100 PSI – Top Pick

Generac 7019 OneWash 3100 PSI

The Generac 7019 OneWash 3100 PSI is the best overall choice if you’re looking to keep your car looking great. The best feature on this model is its adjustable spray gun, which allows you to change the pressure to clean your car, concrete, or wood surfaces, making it easy to get the right pressure for the job. This model also includes four different nozzles. Such variety gives you the option to further refine the machine to the task at hand, whether you need heavy-duty cleaning power, or something gentler but still effective. It produces up to 3100 PSI, which is more than enough to complete any kind of cleaning task and to get it done quickly.

It also has an onboard detergent tank. So it’s easy to apply detergent to your car without having to switch machines. Since you don’t have to apply it manually, it also saves you time. However, this model does have a flaw. Some units come with crummy high-pressure hoses, which tend to wear out far too quickly. We’ve rated this machine so highly because of how effective it is in other areas, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be better.

  • Adjustable spray gun
  • 3100 PSI
  • Onboard detergent tank
  • Four nozzles included
  • Crummy pressure hose

2. Sun Joe SPX3000 – The Runner-Up

Sun Joe SPX3000

If you’re looking for a great electric pressure washer for detailing your car, then the Sun Joe SPX3000 might be the model that best suits your needs. Unlike the previous model, this one is electric. You’ll never have to go get gas before you get to work, though you will need a reliable source of electric power.  This model comes with five nozzles (one more than our top model), which adds some value. It also provides up to 2030 PSI. Though this isn’t as much as our top model, it’s still very respectable.

This electric model comes with a total stop system, which shuts off the motor when the handle isn’t depressed. As a result, the internal components don’t wear down as much as they would on a different electric model or a gas model. It also comes with a pair of detergent tanks, so you can switch between soaps without having to stop and refill. A major downside, however, is that it comes with nonstandard fittings. This means you’ll have to buy adaptors before using aftermarket parts, which raises the cost of operation and lowers the value.

  • Electric
  • Five nozzles included
  • Up to 2030 PSI
  • Total stop system
  • Nonstandard fittings

3. Greenworks GPW1501 – Best for the Money

Greenworks GPW1501

The Greenworks GPW1501 is a great choice for a bargain hunter. This model has a lightweight and compact frame, meaning it’s easy to reposition while you work and just as easy to put into storage between uses. It comes with a pair of quick-connect nozzles, which means you can switch between cleaning and power cleaning quickly, giving you control and saving you time in the long run. It’s also an electric model. It runs very quietly relative to gas models other electric pressure washers.

However, the fact that it includes only two nozzles makes it less valuable than some other models. It also only produces up to 1500 PSI. While this is great pressure for a compact model, it isn’t going to blow anyone away. The good news is that you can get this model for half, or less, of what you’d pay for the other models on our list, making it the best for the money. If you’re looking to score a great deal, and don’t care too much about having a ton of attachments or top-of-the-line power, then this is a model that you should check out.

  • Great price
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Quick-connect nozzles
  • Quiet
  • Only includes two nozzles
  • Average power

4. Karcher K5 Premium 16033610

Karcher K5 Premium 16033610

Though the Karcher K5 Premium 16033610 has some potential as a pressure washer for your car, it also has some significant shortcomings that you should know about before you buy. It produces up to 2000 PSI, making it one of the stronger electric models on our list. It also comes with a pair of spray guns. The first is designed for heavy-duty work, while the other is adjustable, allowing you to change the pressure to whatever setting you need at a given moment. The motor also uses the water to cool itself while it works. This process extends its life, since its components won’t wear down due to excess heat.

However, this model is fairly expensive relative to the value that it brings. It works well enough, but it carries a heftier price tag than other models that come with more nozzles or have a higher overall pressure. It also comes with a few cheap fittings that break early on, requiring premature replacement, which is a pain. For the money, you shouldn’t have to deal with that. While the Karcher is good overall, its high price drops it to fourth.

  • 2000 PSI
  • Adjustable spray gun
  • Water-cooled motor
  • Expensive
  • Weak connectors

5. AR Blue Clean AR383

AR Blue Clean AR383

The AR Blue Clean AR383 might lure in some people due to its relatively low price. But like many low-priced items, it falls short of the quality you need to be happy with your purchase. It’s capable of producing up to 1900 PSI, which is more than enough to get your car clean, even if it’s caked in mud. It also comes with two spray guns, one of which is designed to cut through the toughest messes. The other is adjustable and allows you to choose the spray you need on the fly.

However, there are many worrisome problems with this model. The hose is very disappointing. It’s only 20 feet long, meaning you don’t have a lot of range without moving the base around; this could cost you a lot of time if you’re cleaning a larger vehicle. It’s also an unwieldy hose, which will make many people dislike using it. Finally, the connection between the hose and the base is low quality. It’s prone to leaking and breaking, requiring you to pay for a new part. Even though it’s not very expensive, you could get better value for the money with a different model.

  • 1900 PSI
  • Two spray guns included
  • 20-foot hose
  • Poor connectors
  • Poor-quality hose

Buyer’s Guide

If you’ve read through our reviews, you may already have a good idea about which model is the right one for you. If not, don’t worry. This guide is designed to walk you through each step of the buying process so that you can think through each feature and make a great, well-informed decision. It’s also a good resource for people who haven’t bought a pressure washer in a while and who want to learn about new developments in the field. If you want to get the best value for your money, make sure you check out this buyer’s guide.


Detailing your car is often more about precision than raw power. With that in mind, the amount of power, or pressure, that your pressure washer can put out is secondary to the nozzles that come with it.

Different nozzles work differently. If you want to avoid stripping the paint off your car—and complete the task in a timely manner—then you’ll want to make sure that you have the right nozzles for the job. That means understanding what each nozzle does.

Zero-degree nozzle

While many pressure washers come with zero-degree nozzles, they’re probably not the ones that you’ll want to use to detail most of your car. Simply put, zero-degree nozzles are designed for more than just your typical cleaning job. They’re the go-to nozzle for getting graffiti off walls and stripping the paint or varnish off a fence or deck. In some cases, they’ve even strong enough to damage the wood underneath.

You probably won’t want to use it on your vehicle. Car paint is very durable, but it may not stand up well to the pressure that a zero-degree nozzle puts out. And the last thing you want to do is damage your paint job when you’re trying to clean it.

15-degree nozzle

The 15-degree nozzle is the next most powerful nozzle. It has a slightly wider arc than the zero-degree nozzle, which means it uses just as much water. However, it spreads water over a slightly larger area, so it’s less intense and far less likely to cause damage. This nozzle is best for cleaning out a truck bed or washing off tires or other very dirty surfaces that are either unpainted or unlikely to be seen.

You could potentially use this model to clean the rest of the vehicle’s body if you’re using a pressure washer that has 1500 PSI or less. If you’re using a stronger model though, you’ll want to be cautious with this nozzle.

25-degree nozzle

The 25-degree nozzle strikes a nice balance between power and cleaning radius. It’s strong enough to get mud and other muck off your vehicle, but it also spreads out the water so that you’re unlikely to damage the paint. Since the water has a higher spread, you can also clean faster with this nozzle than you would with a narrower nozzle—especially if you’re able to get all the muck off in one pass.

This nozzle is also a good choice for cleaning fences or decks that have paint or varnish on them, since it typically won’t be powerful enough to damage those surfaces. Unlike some of the more powerful nozzles, it won’t ever split the wood.

40-degree nozzle

The 40-degree nozzle is the best one for cleaning vehicles. Not only does it spread out the water enough that you won’t damage the paint, but that spread means you’ll cover a lot of area in a short amount of time. This really comes in handy if you’re cleaning a large vehicle. In theory, this is the fastest nozzle when it comes to cleaning, and if you’re going to use your pressure washer primarily to clean your vehicle, you’ll want to make sure that you get one of these nozzles.

This nozzle is also useful for cleaning large areas. If you need to remove loose dirt, light mud, or even leaves from a driveway or sidewalk, this is a great nozzle that will clear a very large area with each pass.


If you’re going to be using your pressure washer to clean your vehicle, then you’re probably going to be soaping it down at some point. While there’s always the tried-and-true method of grabbing a sponge and doing it by hand, you can save a lot of time and effort by investing in a pressure washer that does that job for you.

There are two different ways in which pressure washers apply detergent or soap. The first is called “in-line,” where you fill an attached container with the soap of your choice, and the pressure washer automatically adds the soap to the water on its way to the sprayer. That means you constantly get the benefit of the soap, even when using a high-pressure nozzle. These models often come with a specialized “soap” nozzle, which is used to coat a dirty vehicle in soap before switching nozzles and washing it off.

The other variety uses a specialized soap nozzle with a detergent tank on it. These tend to have a much lower capacity and are much more awkward to use. While they’re not the better of the two options, they are cheap. They don’t require a large tank and the system that automatically feeds soap into the line doesn’t have to be included.


The hose is an often underrated part of a pressure washer. While 20 or 25 feet might sound like a long hose, the reality is that it’s often shorter and less useful than people think. While 50 feet may be excessive for some people, having too much hose is rarely as frustrating as having too little. With a longer hose, you can work for longer periods of time without having to reposition the base unit.

If you’re thinking about getting a good pressure washer with a short hose, you may want to upgrade your hose after the fact. Some manufacturers know that you’re thinking this and have designed their models with proprietary or oddly-sized fittings that make it hard or impossible to attach an aftermarket hose. In these situations, you’ll have to buy a custom connector that allows you to use your own hose, which raises the overall cost.

The same sort of thing happens with nozzles. If you’re thinking about buying a set of high-quality nozzles, you may also need to get a new hose, as they may not fit on the proprietary fittings used by the included hose.


Most of the models on our list aren’t that heavy, so you should be able to move most of them around by yourself in most situations. If you can find a wheeled model, that’s always a nice plus, since it means you won’t have to carry the whole thing around by hand. But wheeled models are often heavier. So if you’re going to have to lift them into a truck bed for transportation, you may want to keep that in mind.

When it comes to wheels, bigger is almost always better. The best wheeled models come with 12-inch or larger never-flat wheels. That means they have rubber threaded rings on a plastic or metal frame. Since there’s no air involved, they can’t go flat. And, since they don’t need to ride completely smooth like a car or bicycle, there’s no need for air-cushioned tires.


The Generac 7019 OneWash 3100 PSI is the best overall model due to its adjustable spray gun, four included nozzles, and two detergent tanks. The Sun Joe SPX3000 produces up to 2030 PSI, comes with five nozzles, and has a life-extending total stop system, though nonstandard fittings drop it to second place. The Greenworks GPW1501 runs quietly and is compact and lightweight. Since it has a great price, it’s the best model for the money on our list. The Karcher K5 Premium 16033610 produces 2000 PSI and is water-cooled, but its high price and weak connectors drop it to fourth place on our list. The AR Blue Clean AR383 has some upside, but its short, low-quality hose and crummy connectors make it a poor overall buy.

Hopefully, our reviews and our buyer’s guide have helped you understand the pressure washer market. You should be able to use this information to find the perfect pressure washer for detailing your car.