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An electric pressure washer with a snow foam cannon is a fantastic tool to help you safely wash your car.
The amount of pressure needed for detailing a car is not that high but a more powerful washer is needed if you also want to use it to clean your driveway or deck.
Attaching a snow foam lance will alloy you to create thick foam that clings to the car and dissolves road grime and grease from every inch of your car. This foam is the key to protecting your car when you wash it.
The model I recommend bellow can be used for anything and everything around your home and creates thick snow foam, perfect for cars.
A pressure washer with foam cannon is the first pre-wash step when cleaning your car. A huge amount of dust and dirt will be removed without even touching your paint and that means you will have fewer scratches over time.
The Sun Joe SPX3000 is the perfect pressure washer for washing cars. Read amazing reviews for the Sun Joe SPX3000 on Amazon. Its low cost, light weight and plenty of power for everything.
Do I need a pressure washer for washing my car?
- Blast away heavy dirt effortlessly.
- Remove light dirt safely.
- Remove bugs easily.
- Reach in to wheel wells in seconds.
- Apply loads of snow foam to dissolve grease.
- Remove contaminants that would scratch car if washed by hand.
- Protects clear coat shine.
- Prolongs life of wax and sealant.
- Wash your car faster.
- Wash you deck and driveway too.
One of the great advantages of a pressure washer is when you are cleaning your wheels. Brake dust is removed in seconds especially if the dust is loose. And we know how hard wheels are to clean with a mitt or wheel brush.
You don’t need to spend thousands on a high powered gas pressure washer. Electric washers are quieter and much cheaper. They are also lighter and easy to move around your vehicle.
If you are worried about the length of the power cable then I can tell you that the Sun Joe also comes with a long cable that feels very well made. They also sell an extender which I mention below.
In fact the whole machine feels like it’s of a very high quality which is surprising at this price point. For example, the fittings are metal instead of plastic which is a huge advantage because plastic parts can crack and fall apart so easily after a few years of use.
Do I really need to use foam to wash my car?
Good question! The pre-rinse stage of car washing involves attaching a snow foam lance to your pressure washer, covering your car with foam and allowing it to soak before blasting it off with your pressure washer.
The Pressure washer I recommend above does a superb job of producing thick foam. The foam will stick your your car and looks really cool.
I think its a very worthwhile step, especially for those of us who want to preserve the shine on our cars for as many years as possible.
If you like to spend time hand washing and waxing and polishing then you should definitely take to time to do the snow foam step. But if you just want to take the mud of your daily driver then you should just use the power washer to take the lose layer of dirt off.
Can a pressure washer damage car paint?
Pressure washers of less than 3000 psi are fine to use on modern cars. There have been a number of test to verify this. I have used gas pressure washers of 2700 psi for years without damaging my cars.
I am always careful around plastic trim that might become loose if the water jet was concentrated on it for too long. Also you should be careful around windows to make sure you don’t get inside the rubber seals.
Keep the water jet moving over the car as much as possible. Remember you only want to remove dirt and soap bubbles so you don’t need to focus too long on one spot.
I have read about people who have a clear bra or some other protection film having issues with high powered pressure washers. Problems can arise when a weak point appears on the film and the water jet gets underneath it. I think this is very rare and in most cases it will never happen.
If you don’t know what a protective film is then you probably don’t have one. They are usually applied to high end cars or cars that are used on race tracks.
The only issue I ever had with a pressure washer was on an older car. We had applied some touch up paint to fix some paint chips. The pressure washer removed some of them. We reapplied the paint chip product and we were more careful the next time, we used a wider jet and held the washer further away from the paint. Problem solved.
If you have a classic car or an old car that may have some rust then I would also avoid using a pressure washer. You should probably wash your car by hand only.
How much pressure is needed to wash a car??
The minimum amount of PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) needed for washing a car is probably about 1200psi. The Sun Joe SPX3000 goes up to 2030psi. This is still a safe amount to use on your car. That amount of power also means you don’t have to hold it very close to your paint to get the dirt off.
The SPX3000 has a water flow rate of 1.76 GPM or Gallons Per Minute. That’s plenty for car washing and not too much to be wasting water.
The washer comes with a number of nozzles. These spray a wide or narrow spray depending you your needs. For your car you should use one of the wider nozzles. The grey nozzle is 40 degrees is is perfect for cars.
The nozzles attach to the body of the washer so you won’t lose them. They are easily clicked on and off.
What do you get with the SPX3000?
Includes two 30.4 ounces (0.9 liter) removable detergent tanks, 34 inch extension wand, 20 foot high pressure hose, 35 foot power cord with GFCI protection, garden hose adapter, needle clean-out tool, 5 quick connect spray tips.
- 5 Quick-Connect spray tips (0º, 15º, 25º, 40º and soap) tackle light, medium and heavy duty cleaning tasks
- Powerful 14.5-amp/1800-Watt motor generates up to 2030 PSI/1.76 GPM for maximum cleaning power and water inlet temperature (max) is 104 degrees Fahrenheit
- TSS (Total Stop System) – automatically shuts off the pump when trigger is not engaged to save energy and prolong pump life
- Dual detergent tanks – two 0.9 L onboard, removable tanks carry and store different types of detergent to simultaneously tackle different cleaning projects
- CSA approved; Full 2-year warranty
Best Foam Cannon for the Sun Joe SPX3000
I recommend also buying a foam cannon to connect to your pressure washer. This will generate thick foam which will collect dust and dirt from your car. If your car is only slightly dirty it’s possible that soaking your car in foam and washing it off after a few minutes is enough.
The 2030psi pressure from the Sun Joe means that you will get great foam from a foam cannon.
Getting as much dirt as possible off your paint without touching it is a huge advantage. This is because scratches can be introduced whenever you need to touch your paint. Please read my post on how to properly and safely wash your car without scratching it for more information.
The grit and dirt that gets blasted off with a pressure washer is the reason these have become so popular with car detailing enthusiasts.
But if your car has a lot of dirt the snow foam cannon will also soak into and soften heavy dirt before you do a full wash.
You will need a foam cannon that fits properly with your pressure washer. A lot of people make the mistake of buying the wrong type for their machine. I can recommend the Sun Joe SPX-FC34 34-Ounce Snow Foam Cannon for SPX Series Electric Pressure Washers for use with the Sun Joe pressure washer. It’s a well made product with brass parts and has great reviews on Amazon.
Types of car shampoo for washing cars.
There are a number of types of car shampoos. The normal type we al know about is known as contact shampoo. You use these normally in your bucket and with wash mitts.
Contact shampoos contain conditioners and lubrication that make them feel very slippery when you feel them between your fingers. These conditions attach themselves to your paint and also wrap themselves around the dirt on your car to protect it from scratches.
My favorite contact shampoo is Meguiars Gold Class.
You can use contact shampoos in your foam cannon but you can also get special foam wash shampoos that dont contain much conditioner. They should only be used in the pre wash and not in the contact wash.
Best car shampoo for use with a foam cannon
A good can shampoo needs to produce lots of suds because this will trap dust and dirt and keep it away from the paint. Chemical Guys make great products. And Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash Soap and Cleanser is no different. This can also be used on your bucket wash stage because it protects paint very well.
Advantages of Honeydew Snow Foam
- Superior surface cleanser
- Can also be used in your contact wash
- Advanced foaming technology, High Suds
- Perfect for touchless, two bucket, or foam cannon wash
- Ideal for maintenance wash
- Rinses clean with no residue
- Safe for wax and sealant
- Removes grime, build up and dirt
- Available in 4 ounce, 16 ounce, and 64 ounce (1/2 gallon) sizes
When preparing the foam cannan you should fill the container with about 10% Soap and 90% water. More soap will give you more suds. They type of water in your area will also affect the amount of suds so you might need to adjust the ratio to suit your own needs.
How to wash a black car with a pressure washer
- Start by using just plain water and not the foam cannon. Blast away the heavy mud and brake dust from the wheels.
- Soak the entire car with water.
- Using the snow foam cover the car in suds.
- Some foam needs to be allowed to sit for a few minutes.
- Blast away the foam after the specified time.
- If car is still dirty start to use the two bucket method or the multi-mitt method.
- Dry the car safely using the proper microfibre towels or a leaf blower.
- Apply a sealant, wax or spray detailer.
If your paint feels rough to the touch don’t be tempted to try to remove the stuck on dirt with the pressure washer or even by scrubbing your car. Instead you should use a clay bar. Read by post on using a clay bar if you want to learn more.
It’s got nothing to do with washing cars but I recommend you also buy a deck cleaner attachment. This makes cleaning decks, driveways, patios etc so much easier and faster.
If the hose isn’t long enough for your needs you could get this hose extender which is available on Amazon.
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