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Washing cars is one of the most popular uses for pressure washers. But, like many car owners out there, you may be wondering if pressure washers are actually safe to use on your vehicle. Well, the answer is yes... and no.
When used properly, powered washers rinse away more dirt and soils than your typical garden hose in just a fraction of the time, leaving a smoother, glossier finish. But, without the right know-how and equipment, a pressure washer could potentially damage your paintwork.
Before using a pressure washer on your vehicle, it’s important to know how to use one of these powerful machines, which costly mistakes to avoid and what kind of pressure washer is best for you. So, here are some helpful tips for safely integrating a pressure washer into your car cleaning routine!
If you’re shopping for a pressure washer for your car, make sure you’re searching for electric and not gas powered washers. An electric pressure washer is much better suited for washing your car than gas pressure washers. Not only does it spray a shorter stream of water, but an electric pressure washer also features a lower maximum pressure, and, in the case of pressure washers and your car, less is more.
A gas pressure washer, on the other hand, is capable of much more powerful pressure, which is useful for clearing the dirt and soils from parking lots and driveways, but these machines are much too aggressive to use on your car.
Although many electric pressure washers produce a pressure of about 1900 psi, you should only use a water pressure of 1500 psi or lower on your car. You‘ll need to look for a low-pressure machine that's a bit less aggressive than the standard. Pressures higher than 1500 psi won’t provide a significant increase in cleaning power; it only raises your chances of scratching or damaging your paintwork.
In addition to making sure your machine uses the right water pressure, you’ll also need to use the correct attachments. The smaller the attachment’s spray pattern, the more powerful your stream of water will be. You should never use a spray pattern of less than 10 degrees on any part of your vehicle, including the wheels.
We recommend using a 25-degree spray pattern to clean your wheels and tires, and a 40-degree spray pattern on your painted surfaces and auto glass. Your nozzle should always produce a fan-like spray; steer clear of bullet tips that could scratch or chip your vehicle’s paintwork.
It’s also important to make sure you always hold the tip of your pressure at least 6 inches away from your paint and 12 inches away from plastic trim. Holding the tip any closer could loosen your trim or damage the clear coat, especially around already scratched or chipped areas.
Pressure washers are not always the right tool to reach for when washing your car. In certain instances, it may be safer or more effective to handwash your vehicle. Other times, you may need to use a specialty cleaner, like Turtle Wax Bug & Tar Remover, to get rid of particularly stubborn stains, like fresh tar or bug remains.
The best time to use a pressure washer is to remove heavy soils from your car after off-roading or driving through mud on a wet, rainy day. Your pressure washer will especially come in handy during the pre-rinse to clear loose dirt and soils from your wheels, tires and exterior panels.
Many car owners that buy a pressure washer do so under the false assumption that they’ll never need to handwash their car again, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. On its own, a pressure washer is not an effective way to remove all dirt and stains from the surface of your vehicle. Many contaminants won’t budge from the surface of your car without some kind of friction, so you’ll still need to use a car wash mitt and a car wash soap solution to tough loosen dirt and soils before rinsing with your pressure washer.
In reality, there is no such thing as a contactless car wash, so the safest way to use a pressure washer is to replace your garden hose for a more effective rinse. This means you’ll still need all the handwashing essentials, such as a 5-gallon bucket, grit guard, microfiber towels and a car wash soap like M.A.X. Power Wash, to get your vehicle sparkling clean.
And once you’ve washed your vehicle, don’t forget to protect that spotless finish with a few sprays of Hybrid Solutions PRO Flex Wax for an effortless, eye-popping gloss.
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