Is It Safe to Use a Pressure Washer for Car [Interview]

When was the last time you have washed your car – a week ago, a month ago or has it been ages since you cleaned it? Weekdays are going to be busy, and weekends – even busier. Seeking the help of a professional car cleaning service is not viable for many. Most of us clean the car using a hosepipe; however, it demands your time and serious efforts.

You may have not even thought about investing in a good pressure washer to get the task done. Why? Many people are averse to using a pressure washer to clean cars. There are various presumptions attached to it since people tend to believe that it might damage their vehicle. Today, let’s dig a little deeper into the process of using a car wash machine and learn how to use a pressure washer for car safely with the help of an automobile engineer.

Read on:

Q.1 Please explain to us the process of painting a car.

Ans: An automotive paint is used for painting – both for the protection and decorative purposes. The total number of layers of paint racks up to 100 µm.  Majority of the factories rely upon robots for painting to achieve a uniform application. This speeds up the process and boosts the efficiency of vehicle production as well.

To start with, water spray jets with high pressure are focused towards the body. It is important to note that pretreatment is essential before painting, because if it isn’t done properly, premature failure is doom to happen. This involves coating the surface with phosphate so that the body is sufficiently protected from corrosion. It also helps in preparing the surface for an E-Coat. Then, the body is carefully immersed into Electro-Coat Paint Operation also known as ELPO or E-Coat and high voltage is applied.

To remove unevenness, a primer is also applied on the body. It helps in providing a smooth surface and is easy to apply as well. After this, the basecoat is painted which acts as the main color of the vehicle.

Now, a clear coat is added, which helps in protecting the vehicle from harmful UV radiation. Besides this, it also helps to protect the vehicle from small scratches.

Nissan had recently launched their self-healing clear coat paint. Yes, you heard it right – paint will heal by itself. Small scratches can easily self-heal in a matter of days. Painting helps to slow down the aging of the metals. Be it rain or sunshine, automotive paints can easily adapt to any weather condition.

painting your car

How car is painted

Q.2 According to you, which is more appropriate to use for cleaning a car – A car pressure washer or a hosepipe?

I am not presumptuous for those who used a hosepipe to clean their vehicles. That’s not all. If you are completely satisfied with the level of tidiness a hosepipe can bring about, go ahead with it.

But here’s the catch, what about those stubborn dirt patches that the hosepipe just can’t deal with? This is when pressure washing a car comes in handy. Proper usage of a car power washer will definitely bring about wonders in your cleaning pursuit. However, if not used correctly, it can be harmful as well.

Q.3 What is the correct way of using a pressure cleaner for achieving the best cleaning results?

Answer: I would like to lay stress here on the correct machine that needs to be selected for cleaning. ‘What is the safe psi for car wash?’ – this is the first question you need to tackle.  A pressure cleaner that can produce up to 120 bar or 1800 Psi is safe for usage. A car wash machine can easily solve the everyday cleaning problems and is safe too. Make sure to avoid any machine, with psi greater than 1800.

You need to give attention to few factors so that you can clean the car in a breeze. The first among the list is choosing the right machine. An 1800-psi unit is generally recommended.

A word of caution:

Power washers with psi greater than 1800 can cause damage to your vehicle.

Now you need to consider which spray pattern has to be used. Some washers are available with a total blaster design, which is meant for heavy cleaning. These washers are not recommended on your car as they may possible damage the outer paint along with the covers. Every washer comes with different pressure washer nozzles including focus pencil jets which is touted as the most suitable spray pattern for a car . If not, then the standard fan spray pattern is considered as the safest option for automotive detailing jobs.

Let us move on to the third factor – the distance and angle of the lance during washing. Keeping the lance too close to the car can increase the hydraulic impact which can result in damage. Maintain distance of 2 to 4 feet depending on the power of your machine. Moreover, the lance should also be roughly bent to 45 degrees, which is the recommended angle for quickest and most effective cleaning.

4. Is it safe to use the pressure washer on all car types?

A few instances where avoiding the use of a pressure cleaner will be when washing expensive vintage motors and classic cars. Using a jet of pressurized water could cause paintwork damage or worse if you are trying to clean vintage motor. Why it is so? It is because vintage cars are not build to the same standard as modern day cars. Apart from these, there are no restrictions on using pressure washer for car.

5. Some people believe that pressure washer is capable of literally stripping paint from the panels. Is this true?

This is yet another myth associated with pressure washer, that it could strip paint from the panels and cause damage to the exterior trim. How much ever convincing this may sound, it is not entirely true. If a person is using a very powerful machine such as an industrial pressure washer specifically designed to strip paint, then there is no doubt about paint coming off. Nevertheless, no one in sound mind will use these powerful machines to clean their cars.


Pressure washers can damage a car in the following 2 instances:

(a) Lance is held too close to the vehicle

(b) The jet pressure is focused on one particular spot for a long time.

You can always look for reliable pressure washing service to get your car completely cleaned up.

6. Can pressure washers drive dirt particles into the paintwork causing scratches and swirl marks?

Many people believe that pressure washers can drive dirt into paintwork. However, this is completely false. You can conduct your own self-research about this and you will find that every professional uses a pressure washer for car detailing. Why? It is because they are the safest and most effective cleaning machine for cars.  If they were dangerous then they wouldn’t be promoted as an effective cleaning equipment by best car wash services and forums.

7. What are the benefits of using a pressure washer for car cleaning?

  • One of the major advantages of having a pressure cleaner includes proper snow foaming and pre-cleaning your car. Pre-cleaning helps in preventing swirl formation.
  • Another huge benefit of using pressure cleaner is that it requires less water. This means that even if you have limited water supply, you can still rely upon a pressure washer for cleaning. Moreover, they are considered environment friendly. Even though it uses limited quantity of water, it allows you to clean a lot better, quicker and without any worries.
  • To put it simply, they convey a professional impression to customers.
  • Holding a lance while the machine is running is completely therapeutic. It brings out the childish character inside and helps you enjoy the cleaning.


These machines are completely safe and secure to use. The modern cars make a good pair with pressure cleaners as they have strong built. You can jet wash your vehicle once a week to clean the dirt will not affect the exterior trim or the paintwork finish. Just remember to follow the precautions and do not be in a hurry while choosing the right machine for your car. 1800 psi of pressure is just what you need and anything above that is entirely your responsibility.  Follow the basic caution tips and you are set!. Stick on to the old scrubbing method if you have a vintage car to clean.

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