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Thread: Pressure washer to clean car?

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Pressure washer to clean car?

    I just got a 1400psi washer and saw on TV last night a guy cleaning his car with it.
    I can put on a detergent bottle and spray first at low pressure, then put on the head unit and vary the spray from wide to narrow. Seems great on wheels.
    Anybody using one?
    Last edited by Kelly_Bramble; 05-21-2011 at 09:22 AM. Reason: Could be link dropping

  2. #2
    Technical Fellow Kelly_Bramble's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Bold Springs, GA
    1400 psi pressure washer on a car paint job sounds like a bad ideal to me... If you get too close off comes the piant, wax, clear coat and if there is debree caught up in the spray stream it could act like a sand blaster.

    Get the high pressure stream close enough to the rubber trim around a door and the trim will likely get sliced in half.

  3. #3
    Technical Fellow
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by rumartin23 View Post
    I just got a 1400psi washer
    Anybody using one?
    Hi Martin,
    I hate to go against Kelly's advice, but I have been using one of these for about 10 years.

    I use it on the car, truck and motorcycles and all paint jobs are still looking as good as new. It is no different to the pressure washers you see at the DIY car wash places. The only thing I have to be careful of are the speakers and gauges on the motorcycles so I do those bits by hand and rinse off with a garden hose.

    I see a man spending Saturday washing the cars and trucks.

    Generally, I will not give you the answer to your question, but I *will* guide you into discovering how to solve this yourself.

  4. #4
    Lead Engineer RWOLFEJR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Rochester Pennsylvania
    Couple littel fun facts sort of in line with this thread...
    I use a leaf blower after cleaning my bike and it works GREAT...!! Gets' the water out of all those places that you can't get to that would only come out when you go for a ride. It's also nice for a quick blow down if you get caught in the rain and aren't up to scrubbing it right away.

    Side note on the pressure washing... If you have any loose paint it's gonna come off. Also don't use a Steam Jenny on your vehicle unless it's in preparation for a complete paint job. I was steaming off an old 29 model A I had years ago getting it ready for sanding etc. and a buddy popped over and wanted to clean his mums car with it. Turned out it that in places where he had the wand very close to the skin it discolored / cooked the paint and left streaks of darker color all over it... Woops...!

  5. #5
    I hate to go against Dave's advice, but Kelly's right: Pressure washers ARE a bad idea on paint, for the very reasons stated. That said, if your paint job is more than about 4 years old (regardless of the age of the vehicle), the pressure washer won't hurt it any more than age and weather already likely have.

    "I use a leaf blower after cleaning my bike and it works GREAT...!!"

    +1. I have a monster shop-vac that converts to a leaf blower, and use it the same way.

    "Turned out it that in places where he had the wand very close to the skin it discolored / cooked the paint and left streaks of darker color all over it... Woops...!"


    In the industry, we don't use steam to get the dirt off the paint, we use it to get the paint off the metal! Hope your '29 came out cherry.

  6. #6
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Re:Pressure washer to clean car?

    Yeah! The pressure washer is awesome on wheels. Here are some cautions while using pressure washer:
    1. Always keep the nozzle at least 6 inches away from the paint. Don't be tempted to get closer to remove a little spot. If you spray directly into an existing chip and you're too close, it can actually chip the paint. 1400psi is not likely going to cause any problem, though.
    2. Never use a straight stream (if the pressure washer supports it). Same reason as above, Keep the stream in a "fan" of about 30 degrees.
    3. Don't towel dry after washing with only a pressure washer. Even if you use soap, some dirt will remain and you'll end up with dirty towels and swirl marks.
    Last edited by Kelly_Bramble; 05-23-2011 at 07:51 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    You should be fine if you stay away from the car about 3 feet away. However, I would watch out for anything that can come off, such as chrome or other paint. Use a hose for this. But ----link removed---- do get your car cleaned a lot better and easier.
    Last edited by Kelly_Bramble; 08-29-2011 at 02:56 PM. Reason: link was comment spam

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