How Much PSI to Wash Car

Published by Jeff Torres

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How Much PSI to Wash Car

How Much PSI to Wash Car

If you are tired of washing your car with the garden hose and want a little more kick, but aren’t sure how much power you need, then you are in the right place. Our article about how much PSI to wash car will give you all the information you need to know to wash your car without damage.

All the information you will find in this article will benefit you greatly. Ultimately, you will decide a lot easier which pressure washer to buy or even realize that you could have used your pressure washer differently. So stick around to find out more!

How Much PSI to Wash Car

What Is PSI, and What Does It Mean? 

Pounds per square inch is the term we mean when talking about PSI. 

This is the pressure measurement used in the Imperial measuring system, and it is used to measure either gas pressure or liquid pressure. It is the pressure that results when one pound of force is applied to an area of one square inch. 

Pressure washers have various PSI strengths. By understanding what PSI is, you will be able to choose the proper pressure washer for your car. 

Benefits and Risks of Pressure Washing Your Car

The pressure washer will give you a satisfying and fun experience while washing your car. It has several benefits and risks that you should be aware of. 

Some of the benefits of using a pressure washer are that it gives your car a very effective and thorough cleaning in a short period. It rinses soap fast and removes sticky bug debris and mud. It can also be used as a foam cannon to soak up your car with detergent.

However, you should be very careful while using a pressure washer, as the wrong PSI settings can cause permanent damage to your vehicle. Keep in mind to always use the correct pressure nozzle, and avoid chipping the paint off your car permanently.   

Read more: How to Wash a Car With Pressure Washer

How Much PSI to Wash Car

Tips to Know When Pressure Washing Your Car

How much is PSI safe to wash my car? 

Depending on what else you would use the pressure washer for, besides washing your car, it is usually a good practice to work with pressure ranging between 1200 and 1900 PSI. The pressure inside this limit is ideal for washing a car. Going a little higher is better, closer to 1900, because some pressure is lost when the water enters the pressure nozzle.  

We would certainly not recommend using a pressure washer with 3000 PSI of power for car washing. Even though it would remove debris faster and more effectively, there is a risk of scratching the paint, especially in older cars. 

Using different nozzles

Older pressure washers tended to have an adjustable nozzle. You turn the nozzle with your hand, either left or right, to increase or reduce the water pressure. 

Newer pressure washers avoid this and have pressure nozzles that you can switch between, depending on the use. 

Nozzles spread the angle of pressurized water coming out, making it less potent. They do not lower the PSI capability of the machine but rather the outcome.

The ideal nozzle for pressure washing your car would be a 40-degree nozzle. This means that the water will spread over 40 degrees instead of hitting the surface at one spot like a laser beam. 

And different PSI nozzles also come in different colors:

  • Red nozzles are the most potent, producing the highest pressure
  • Yellow nozzles have a pattern angle of 15 degrees
  • Green nozzles have a pattern angle of 25 degrees
  • White nozzles are ideal for cars, with an angle of 40 degrees

Read more: How to Clean Car Windows

Be careful with the pressure washing stick

You always want to keep a safe distance between the washing stick and your car. No matter the pressure washer’s power, try to maintain a uniform distance at all times of about 10 inches. This also goes for washers ranging from 1200 PSI and up.

You should consider moving even farther if you use a mighty 3000 PSI and above the washer. You will reduce the PSI hitting your car naturally by feeling it. 

Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the stick higher and at an angle. Try to keep an angle of at least 20 to 40 degrees. This will reduce the risk of direct impact on the car surface and prevent potential damage. Plus, dirt will slide off more efficiently, as the pressurized water will “dig” into the dirt in no time. 

Read more: What Kind of Nozzle to Pressure Wash Car?

Different Types of PSI Equipment for Car Washing

For comparison, in our how much PSI to wash car article, we want to tell you about some equipment you can use to wash your car and how powerful they are. 

  • A garden hose, besides for watering plants, can also be used for washing a car at a slower tempo. If you cannot afford to buy a pressure washer, this is the option for you, and the garden hose has only 200-500 PSI of power. 
  • An electric pressure washer is the most common washer used by people at home. It is convenient, less noisy, and has just the correct PSI ranging from 1200 to 2000. 
  • A gas pressure washer is the beast of pressure washers. It has a lot of power since it is petrol propelled and is very noisy. This machine is used for heavy-duty work and less for washing cars since it has a pressure range of 2500-4000 PSI. 
  • The automatic car wash and the self-service car wash are, as you guessed it, made explicitly for washing cars. The pressure at these services will range from 1000 to 1500 PSI, which is just about suitable for car washing. 


We hope we were able to clarify a few things about how much psi to wash a car. After reading this article, you should be aware of the risks of using a powerful pressure washer, and if you’re on the market for one, you will know exactly what to look for. 

A pressure washer is an excellent tool for cleaning almost anything, but you must use it correctly. And besides, you will have a ton of fun using it too!

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