The best pressure washers for car care

Buying a good car pressure washer will save you time and money, so you can wave goodbye to costly automatic and hand car washes.

Using the best pressure washer to remove mud from a Jeep

by Ryan Gilmore |
Updated on

If you're after a cleaner-looking car, the first step has to be investing in the best pressure washer for car care. These straightforward devices use a water pump to pressurise water (often from a tap) to deliver this blast of water via a nozzle to a surface. It's this force that is perfect for blasting away dirt without damaging the surface you're meant to be cleaning.

If you're at all serious about preventing scratches while you clean your car, you'll want to rely on a pressure washer as much as possible as water poses a minimal scratch risk. It's not just car care where a good pressure washer can be useful; patios, garden furniture and even your garden shed can be cleaned thoroughly using a powerful jet of water. Most manufacturers will even offer pressure washer accessories that are designed to specifically tackle gardens.

Pressure washers used to be fairly big investment pieces, but now there are plenty of pressure washer deals available. They may not have all the fancy bells and whistles of premium models, but they'll still deliver better car cleaning, all while using less water than a conventional garden hose.

The best pressure washers at a glance:

Editor's pick: Nilfisk Core 140 Pressure Washer - Buy now from Amazon UK
Best budget pressure washer: Bosch EasyAquatak 110 - Buy now from Amazon UK
The best cordless pressure washer: Worx Nitro HydroShot 20V High-Flow Cordless Portable Pressure Cleaner - Buy now from Amazon UK

We're breaking down the best pressure washers with a sharp focus on car care. Each included pressure washer will effectively blast away dirt and grime but won't be so powerful they'll strip away protection or even paintwork. Whether you're after an upgrade or your first foray into the world of pressure washers, pick up one of our favourite pressure washers for car care.

The best pressure washers for cars

Editor's pick

Nilfisk has an enormous range of cleaning equipment for both commercial and domestic use. This model is compact and fairly light, yet still packs plenty of power: 140 bar, 1800W, 465 l/h. One of the major advantages with the Core 140 is that you get a full collection of accessories: a foam sprayer, gentle nozzle, rough nozzle, 90-degree nozzle, and short fixed brush.

You can relax about reliability too. Nilfisk has a great reputation for quality; the pump head on this unit is aluminium and has an auto-stop-start function. We've tested this product and can recommend it as an impressive and cleverly designed piece of kit.

Read our full Nilfisk Core 140 Pressure Washer review


  • Durable and reliable
  • Powerful motor


  • Rivals have a longer hose

The best budget pressure washer

Bosch EasyAquatak 110Via Bosch

For those on a tighter budget or after a reliable pressure washer for lighter cleaning duties, Bosch has produced a great compact machine. It even comes with a couple of nozzles and a canister attachment for applying snow foam.

Output is 330 litres per hour (l/h) flow rate, 110 bar maximum pressure, and 1300W. It will, therefore, make quick work of lighter jobs. While the EasyAquatak 110 is indeed nice and light at under four kilograms, bear in mind there are no wheels, and the hose length is only three metres.


  • Highly portable
  • Easy to store


  • For light cleaning tasks only

The best pressure washer for beginners

Kärcher K2 Pressure WasherVia Kärcher

It's hard to go wrong with a Kärcher pressure washer, its bright yellow pressure washers are synonymous with pressure washers in the same way Transits are synonymous with vans. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of Kärcher pressure washers available and the K 2 is our pick for a first foray into the world of car cleaning.

Offering a maximum pressure of 110 bar and a flow rate of 360 l/h it's not the most powerful pressure washer on sale but it's in the sweet spot for car cleaning. It's very simple to put together and should prove to be perfectly capable for all domestic outdoor cleaning ventures. The included detergent hose makes cleaning large areas a breeze too.


  • Perfect for beginners
  • Solid performance


  • Attachments sold separately

The best premium pressure washer

AVA Smart P50 Via AVA

The stand-out feature of the AVA Smart P50 is the fact it ships with a 10-year warranty. With a metal pump, steel-reinforced hose, and robust plastic body, it'll easily survive the harshest treatment.

There's more than just a tank-like build quality that makes this stand out, the P50 Smart earns its namesake with a load of clever ergonomic features. The Follow-me hose reel allows the hose to move freely without the device falling over, while the zoom lance allows for easy adjustability. Also included in the bundle are a foaming lance, Turbo nozzle and adjustable nozzle for gentle cleaning.


  • Brilliant for car care
  • Exceptional build quality


  • Overkill for basic cleaning

The best cordless pressure washer

Worx Nitro HydroShot 20V High-Flow Cordless Portable Pressure Cleaner Via Worx

Battery-operated power cleaners have come a long way in a very short time, and the Worx Nitro represents the top of the pile. Offering a maximum pressure of 56 bar and 220 l/h water flow, it'll easily cope with lighter muck.

The real selling point of the Worx though is the portability. With a water pump and battery power source, the Worx doesn't require any taps or power sockets, meaning it can be used in the remotest of locations. The 1.5kg weight also means it won't give you tired arms either.


  • Very impressive figures for a cordless unit
  • Lightweight and portable


  • Reliant on batteries

The best compact pressure washer

Kärcher K 3 Horizontal Pressure WasherVia Kärcher

If you're short on space, but still want plenty of punch, Kärcher's range of horizontal pressure washers take up less room but still pack powerful pumps. Capable of 120 bar of pressure and a flow rate of 380 l/h, it's ideal for car care.

Despite the small size, there's onboard storage for the two lances; a Vario lance and Dirt blaster for tackling different tasks. It also includes a detergent tube for even better cleaning power.


  • Tiny size, excellent power
  • Well-made


  • No wheels hamper manoeuvrability

The best pressure washer for deep cleaning

Kärcher is a name synonymous with pressure washers. The German company is to pressure washing what JCB is to excavating, or Ferrari is to supercars. The K7 Premium sits at the top end of domestic pressure washers, beyond which is the realm of commercial gear. If you're a keen gadget person who's also after something that can tackle your car, home and garden, the K7 will be the best pressure washer you can buy.

Thanks to a mighty 180 bar of pressure, the K7 can tackle any domestic task, no matter how hard or delicate, and get it done pronto. Like the K4 Power Control, the K7 gets the clever pressure control on the lance. However, the K7 gets into the realm of app connectivity. The Kärcher Home & Garden app acts as a task advisor and remote control for the pressure washer. Totally unnecessary but neat.


  • Extremely versatile
  • Long hose
  • Reliable


  • Overkill for most

Car pressure washers: What you need to know

Cleaning a Ford Mustang with a pressure washer

What features should I look for?

There's more to buying a car pressure washer than simply choosing the cheapest pressure washer possible. Too much pressure, and you could strip the paint from the bodywork. Too little pressure, and you'd be better off with a wash mitt and bucket. An ideal unit will enable you to select a nozzle setting that's appropriate for washing a car. A pressure washer that comes with a lance with adjustable pressure, foam gun, or brush makes the whole exercise faster and more effective. Also, consider that you'll need to store the product. Compact pressure washers are an increasingly popular choice.

You need to consider the proximity to a power supply. Check the length of the power cord and hose before adding a pressure washer to your basket. Most units work from a standard hosepipe, but others can draw water from almost any container, including rainwater collected in a butt or bucket. These are ideal if you haven't got access to a tap.

Finally, you should take into account the flow rate and pressure. A higher flow rate will ensure you're not spending too long cleaning the car, while a higher pressure will make it easier to remove dirt and grime. As a guide, 110 to 130 maximum bar should be fine for most people, without the fear of damaging your precious paintwork.

How often should I use it?

Every time you wash your car, if you want your money's worth. Used correctly, a pressure washer is the fastest way to wash a car. It will remove dirt, grime and mud without damaging the paintwork and remove soap suds without leaving a residue. In short, it'll give you a very deep clean every time you use it.

What grade of pressure washer should I go for?

There are different variants of pressure washers that are designed for different tasks. If you want to wash your car and maybe give your patio a jet wash every now and again, you'll be fine with a light-duty pressure washer such as the Bosch EasyAquatak 110 or Worx Hydroshot.

Medium-duty options such as the Nilfisk Core 140 and Karcher K4 Power Control will make cleaning larger areas quicker. You only really need one of these if you have other suitable jobs in mind in addition to car cleaning.

Heavy-duty options can be very expensive but clean just about anything, including moss-ridden static homes. These pressure washers can even come with petrol engines, which are for commercial use and overkill for most domestic applications. The Karcher K7 Premium or equivalent Nilfisk Premium 180-10 is as heavy-duty as domestic users need to go.

What else can I use a pressure washer for?

After you've cleaned your car, you can turn your pressure washer onto pretty much anything outdoors. Fence panels, sheds, patios, and even garden chairs can be cleaned with a pressure washer. If they're looking grimy, you can easily blast away the caked-on mud and moss. It's really satisfying to cut through years of dirt in seconds.

Ryan Gilmore is the Deputy Autos and Tools Editor for CAR, specialising in car cleaning and hand tools. With an MA in Automotive Journalism, when he's not testing buckets he can be found looking at old Porsches.

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