How To Clean Your Car With A Pressure Washer
Using a pressure washer on your car can be a ruthlessly efficient way of getting rid of dirt and detritus which annoyingly accumulate during the course of a busy week. However, how best to do it, when to do it, and what are its relative benefits and drawbacks? These are questions to which we would all like some answers. We would all like to know how pressure washers can be used, and if and how they can be used alongside a garden hose. We’d also like to know if we need to use an outdoor extension cord.
1. Is pressure washing bad for your car?
This is the biggest question on many car owners’ minds. We would all agree that cars get covered with many kinds of tiny objects and grime, from week to week, and that washing your car is not solely for cosmetic purposes. We would all probably agree that regular washing reduces the chance of rust building up over time. But is a pressure washer bad? Let’s look at the benefits.
Scuffing – There is less risk of scuffing when you use a pressure washer, because unlike a cloth or sponge, nothing is actually coming into contact with your paintwork other than water.
Time – It takes a relatively shorter time to pressure wash your car, rather than use the more traditional route of elbow grease and sponge or cloth plus bucket. Each time you dunk your cloth in the bucket, the dirtier that water becomes. A pressure washer retains clean water the whole time.
Caked – Caked in stains, that is. Due to the speed of the water hitting the stains it is easier to remove ground-in dirt and stains using this high pressured method.
Alloys – Rather than using your old manual toothbrush or a thin cloth, decisions likely to end in filthy hands, a pressure washer will allow you to blast away highway grease without your hands making physical contact with hubcaps or alloy wheels.
Skin – Highway grease is notoriously damaging to skin, so the less contact you can make with it the better.
2. But is pressure washing bad for your car?!
Well, to answer that question it is important to note that not all pressure washers have been designed with cars in mind. There are many models on the market, so you should target one that is compatible with the task at hand, otherwise it might be too abrasive for your car’s paintwork.
Generally, your dirty car will benefit from a water pressure (PSI) that is around 1200 – 1700 PSI. Any less than this and it will be hard to get the job done satisfactorily. Any greater and it will possibly damage your paintwork, leaving your car looking the worse for wear over time. An important caveat is caravans and vintage cars. No kind of pressure washer should ever be used on them; their paintwork hasn’t been designed with such a high amount of pressure in mind. You might get away with pressure washing your hubcaps, but certainly never use them on the paint per se.
3. How to use a pressure washer
Meeting of true minds
Your pressure washer should be able to connect neatly into your regular garden hose. It’s best to keep your pressure washer well away from an electrical main, though, for obvious reasons. One with a long electrical cord is to be preferred, for this reason. Or use an outdoor extension cord if your driveway is really far from your nearest socket.
Brands will vary, but the best nozzle in terms of washing your car is the 25 or 40 degree nozzle. This will allow for enough water to hit the surface for maximum effect. Too thin a nozzle may damage paint; too wide won’t remove enough dirt.
The recommended distance from which you should be pressure washing your car is four feet. This will reduce the chance of anything flying off and bouncing back into you (detritus, grit etc.), and prevent your paintwork from receiving too much of a pummeling.
Car shampoo can certainly be used in conjunction with your pressure washer. A soap tip or soap nozzle can be affixed, and the relevant car shampoo added. If you do use a soap tip, make sure you purchase the right car wash concentrate, not just any old liquid soap.
A decent chamois leather (as big as possible) can be used to give your car that finishing touch. Ensure it is absolutely, spotlessly clean. If for some reason it falls on the floor, cleanse it in a bucket of cold water immediately. Failure to do so may end up scratching your paintwork and undoing all your good work.
Overall, the correct use of a pressure washer can help you in your weekly bid to keep your car clean and rust-free. By confirming that you have the right nozzle, right pressure washer, and stand at the right distance, you can use your pressure washer to great effect.