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38 comments on Ask-A-Pro: Pressure Washers

  1. Jack says:

    Marc,
    what ratios do you use in the foam cannon to either 1) to strip wax or 2) for maintenance?

    ~Thanks

    • Mo says:

      Jack, each soap/shampoo is different. You need to read the instructions to know the specifications for the soap you are using to determine how much to use to strip wax or for washes in between waxes.

    • Marc Harris & Jacob Bunyan Marc Harris says:

      Jack,
      When stripping, not only do we use a higher concentration of soap, we use a soap like Chemical Guys Citrus Wash to help remove / loosen old stuff. To use to give a simple wash you’ll want to use much less to insure you’re not stripping off your protection, let alone maybe use a gloss enhancing shampoo.

  2. Excellent article Marc! Very thorough and great representation with all the pictures. 😉

    I would like to add that some additional caution should be used around panels that have been repainted. In the 20+ years that I’ve been using pressure washers to clean cars, the only damage I’ve ever inflicted to a car was on repainted panels. This of coarse was when I was doing work for used car dealers who often had body work done at budget priced shops that cut corners and produced poor quality work. Tape lines from a repainted panel is another area to watch out for as it gives the water a way to get under the paint. If the repainted panels were done properly by a reputable shop, there should be no issues in using a pressure washer.

    Rasky

  3. Mo says:

    Marc, Thanks for the write-up! I am considering getting one and this write-up definitely provided me with a ton of insight. Greatly appreciated.

    • Marc Harris & Jacob Bunyan Marc Harris says:

      Mo,
      They’re a great and powerful tool to have. A reader who’s as big of an enthusiast as you are will likely benefit a lot from such a piece of equipment like this more than most. I hope this helps you find the right unit for your needs.

  4. Marc,
    Fantastic article! I lucked out and bought a healthy and effective washer on my first try years ago, but the information you have shared is to be commended for anyone considering a pressure washer. No matter how good the “water pressure” is at someone’s house when using a regular hose and nozzle, one use of a pressure washer will change the way they detail their car forever. Great job Marc and thanks for the informative article and pictures!

  5. Greg says:

    The foam cannon looks great. Can it be used on windows? I have recently tried going into my own pressure washing business and man it is hard. There is so much com. out there I need something to make me stand out from all the others.

  6. Allen says:

    I enjoy how detailed your Ask-A-Pro articles are Marc.

    • Thank you Allen!
      We try to make sure all articles we put out are thorough and complete in discussing the subject they’re made for. We’re glad to hear you’ve enjoyed them and be sure to keep a look out for more great articles coming!

  7. […] sponge. That's the pressure at the nozzle, not the pressure 1 foot away where I usually wash. Ask-A-Pro: Pressure Washers – Detailed Image Power washers do not wear off was far quicker than doing it by hand. The Car Audio SQ […]

  8. […] Here is an article on all you need to know about pressure washers for detailing. http://www.detailedimage.com/Ask-a-P…ssure-washers/ […]

  9. TG says:

    not sure if anyone is sitll following up on this- I enjoyed the article, but I’m still not sure about what specs I should be looking for to safely but most efficiently wash the vehicle. PSI recommendation seems to be between 1.4k-2k, and the article mentions flow, but just that a higher psi/lower flow might be less powerful than a lower psi higher flow. I get that- but could anyone give some example combinations of both that are good for safely washing a car?

    I have an e46 m3, and while it’s not that expensive by most peoples standards, maintenance is not cheap; and I don’t have a ‘cheap’ car to practice on (and don’t want to ruin anyone else’s just because it’s cheaper, haha), so I really want to get it right without damaging my car… To start out with are there some good specs / nozzle types that would be highly effective compared to a normal hose wash, but still safe for all parts of the car (no risk for removing/damaging the paint or body etc). Thanks

  10. Jesse Ritz says:

    I bought our pressure washer for washing concrete. Once you’ve seen a season worth of dirt mildew stains disappear, leaving nice white concrete, you’ll appreciate the power of a pressure washer. I only use it in the bed of my pickup truck, never for the wife’s sedan. I do use it on our bucket truck, backhoe and tractor.

    – Avoid spraying directly into a joint; spray across in the direction that water normally strikes it.
    – Avoid spraying from the back forward; a vehicle is designed to withstand water from the front.
    – Avoid spraying between tires and wheels, especially alloy wheels; it’ll drive sand into the seal.
    – Use the widest pattern that removes whatever you are cleaning from your vehicle.
    – Drive the vehicle immediately after you have washed it to dry the vehicle the way it was designed.
    – Check the pressure washer oil, drain the supply and high pressure hoses and run it out of gas.

    Small engines are often damaged by alcohol in gasoline. We use ethanol free gasoline in all small engines; the manufacturer of the generator on the bucket truck recommends it.

  11. Great post on using a pressure washer for car cleaning, very informative. I would only add how careful one needs to be when using a pressure washer on an expensive automobile – it doesn’t take much of a mistake for it to be very very damaging and costly! Be extremely careful!

  12. Ron Ayotte says:

    I use my pressure washer with my foam gun. If I do use it without the foam gun, I only use the 25 degree fan tip and that is kept at a distance.from paintwork.

  13. Great write-up, Marc! I especially like the pictures that help detail (no pun intended) the detailing! Pressure washers are great for cleaning cars, undoubtedly!

  14. Awesome article, Marc! The pictures are stunning and really help show off the difference made by detailing!

  15. garifo says:

    Which pressure washer are you using in this article?
    Anyone have any recommendations on an electric pressure washer and foam cannon for washing mostly my personal cars.

    thanks.

  16. Kenneth Pickett says:

    Do you recommend a pressure washer for removing dirt and grease from the chassis of a very old pickup during restoration?

  17. Garret says:

    Very informative! Just wondering what was used to clean that truck in the pictures above other then the foam cannon. Which chemical? Thanks

  18. Eric says:

    i plan on washing cars at different car dealerships may i please have your opinion on which washer to buy that will do an excellant job without damaging vehicles also i just got a contract to wash all the new cars at a nissan dealership and if i can do a great job..then i know i can secure other dealerships.please keep in mind i am just starting out and need quality and low price…

  19. […] I can put my hand in the spray path. Here is a website with some good information on the subject: Ask-A-Pro: Pressure Washers | Ask a Pro Blog Perhaps others can find some additional information for this thread. Intelligent people […]

  20. Nick says:

    Why get your house or driveway professionally Pressure Washing?

    Cleaning the inside of your house is one thing, but taking those same tectonics to the outside of your home doesn’t seem to work as well. Reasons being is that you have a lot more surface area to clean and it simply would take too much time to hand clean with brushes or household cleaning solutions.

  21. Good to know.I have been dreading the cleaning of our car.

  22. Jerry says:

    Should a pressure washer totally clean the surface of a vehicle? I ask because on a test with my Karcher 2.360 – 200psi, 1.25gpm – with their supplied wands, and just plain water, I can only get some dirt particles and a layer or two of grime – I can easily rub off the final layer of grime with my fingers after attempting with the pressure washer – why won’t my pressure washer do a proper job?

  23. Jerry says:

    Oops.. 2000 psi I meant.

  24. […] actually force small particles of dirt to embed into the paint. Here's a decent read on how to: http://www.detailedimage.com/Ask-a-P…ssure-washers/ Becky is online now   Quote Quick […]

  25. Maybe I need a pressure washer since it’s one of the best tools for washing your vehicle. Hopefully, the investment pays off in the long run. I imagine that I’ll probably find other uses for it as well.

  26. zen marcle says:

    Should a pressure washer totally clean the surface of a vehicle? I ask because on a test with my Karcher 2.360 – 200psi, 1.25gpm – with their supplied wands, and just plain water, I can only get some dirt particles and a layer or two of grime

    • Reece @ DI Reece @ DI says:

      Zen – A pressure washer is a great way to clean your car! Using just water will help remove a great deal of drit and grime, but for the best results you are going to want to pair it with your favorite car wash shampoo. You can also use a Foam Lance and a shampoo to apply a thick layer of foam that sticks to the vehicle. This allows the shampoo to stay on the surface longer, breaking down dirt and grime so it can be removed with a rinse. For any heavy dirt and grime (i.e. tar, sap, etc.) you may need to use a degreaser and a wash mitt for some added cleaning power.

    • Brad says:

      I just bought an electric washer at 2000 psi and 1.7gpm and tested it out on my vehicles yesterday. It appears that I still need to use a sponge and wash it and I should have definitely dried it. This morning it looks terrible.

      Unless I used cheap washer soap, it looks like it’s only good for knocking big stuff off and rinsing pre/post washing.

      I’m going to test it out on my house this weekend to decide whether I need to get a gas washer instead but I honestly think that the same results would happen when washing.

      • Reece @ DI Reece @ DI says:

        Brad – Thank you for the message and we do apologize for any confusion. A pressure washer by itself generally will not give you enough cleaning power to remove all dirt and contamination. You are going to have to use a Foam Lance/Shampoo to help encapsulate dirt particles and remove them safely. I generally pair my pressure washer with a Foam Lance, spray the car, let the soap sit for a few minutes and wash with my wash mitt. The Foam Lance sprays a thick layer of soap onto the car, which allows it to sit on the surface longer and pull dirt away from the paint. Then you can remove it with a wash mitt and finally a rinse.

        For the drying, you always want to dry the car, especially if you do not have a CR Spotless unit hooked up to your water supply. Water spots are caused by minerals in the water and many areas have hard water that causes imperfections when the paint is not dried off. I personally do not have a CR Spotless unit, so I use a combo of the Waffle Weave Drying Towel and a Metro Vac Master Blaster Revolution.

        Hopefully that helps and if you have any other questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us: https://www.detailedimage.com/Contact/

  27. AR Morris says:

    I see that there are many years of experience in power washing knowledge in these posts so I thought I would bring my question here and see if anyone can help me out. I have a Honda GX690 motor for my power washer and it keeps blowing the 30 AMP fuse in the combination switch, off the ignition switch. It will start up but blow when I shut the engine off. I have replaced the wiring harness, the rectifier, and the fuel shut off solenoid. If I leave it unplugged the fuse does not blow, but this will prevent the system from charging and deactivates the fuel cut solenoid. One particular wire seems to trigger it, the wire goes from the combination switch LO to the fuel cut solenoid. Has anyone heard of this or experienced the same problem? Any insight will be greatly appreciated.

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