The Best Budget Electric Pressure Washer For Car Detailing
Since OG started, I have spent countless hours trying to find the best budget electric pressure washer. It wasn’t a search I wanted to go on, but I realized there was a market out there that wanted a more affordable option. Kranzle (my favorite) is the single best electric pressure washer on the planet. Nothing else beats it. However, many of you may not want to shell out the cash for a pressure washer that will run into the thousands. So, searching for an entry-level solution in pressure washing at OG emerged.
On this journey, I discovered the Karcher 1700 series first. At the time, after testing dozens upon dozens of budget electric pressure washers, I was convinced they were all junk, and that was destined to be the result of these searches. The Karcher K1700 was the machine that changed that.
Anyone who knows me knows that I could give a crap about anything being cheap or inexpensive. Whatever the cost is, I'm willing to pay it, especially if it's something that will add value to my everyday life. A quality pressure washer may not seem like something you'd invest much in, but if you're someone like me who likes to keep their car clean, then you're at the very least going to spend a few hundred dollars on a decent unit. I'd beg you to spend more, but in this scenario having something that functions well and at a lower price point suffices.
I've listed out what I think are the best budget pressure washers below.
Karcher K1700 Series: Best Under $200
The K1700 made 1.1 GPM at 1000 PSI during testing with the OG Karcher Accessory Solution. This pressure was measured with a 50’ pressure washer hose and a Mosmatic Spray Gun (our mid-tier spray gun). For those who don’t understand what that means, from the OG perspective, you want as much flow as you can muster at 1000 PSI for washing a vehicle. Don’t get too hung up on the number, though. Most pressure washes will advertise 2000-3000 PSI but make nowhere near that in practice.
This amount of pressure will easily take mud off your Jeep or salt off your wheel wells. If you want more pressure out of the Karcher, you can size down from the 3.0 nozzle we recommend to a 2.0 or the 1.8 25-degree nozzle that comes with the Karcher. However, you will only need that for tasks like washing concrete or your siding.
This pressure washer comes with stock accessories from Karcher, so if you’re on a budget and want to wait to get the Karcher Accessory Package, you can use those temporarily. I personally hate the stock accessories, so I would want to upgrade.
If you want a pressure washer but want to keep your cost low, there’s nothing under $200 that compares. This unit also has a 3-year residential use (not for commercial use) warranty from Karcher, so if anything happens for three years, you can contact Karcher, and they’ll take care of you. I have no idea how they make this work for an entry-level unit, but they do.
Active VE52/56 Series: Best In The $200-$300 Range
Before the Active, I thought the Karcher was the only entry-level pressure washer that wasn’tcrap. The Active VE52/56 changed that yet again. The VE52/56 makes good numbers for anypressure washer, let alone for one under $250. It produces 1050 PSI at 1.94 GPM with the OG Active Accessory Package. That’s almost as good as the AR Blue Clean at a third of the price.
While the VE52/56 is not serviceable like the AR, you still get a great unit. Unlike the AR Blue Clean, this unit is rated for 100 hours. This lifespan may not seem like a lot, but in a normal car wash, you will have about 15 minutes of wash time per car. That means a VE52/56 will get you about 400 car washes in its lifetime, which is probably enough to last you years. In addition, if you use the OG Accessory Package with the bigger nozzles, you extend the pump's life because less restriction means less stress. This is true for all pressure washing units.
Active 2.0 Series: The New King of Entry Level Pressure Washers
After we started to carry the VE52/56 from Active, I began to talk to James (at Active) about some surging issues (about 5%) of our units were having when we installed the OG Accessory Package to them. Unlike almost every manufacturer I have spoken to, James and his team at Active were very responsive to our concerns and issues. They worked with us to ensure that our units would no longer surge, and that issue is now resolved on all Active pressure washers available in the store. This relationship with Active continued to build the successor to the VE52/56, which is an absolute monster for the price.
The result of the project is the Active 2.0, a unit that does 2.0 GPM + at 700 PSI. This is plenty of pressure for car washing, and when combined with 2.0 GPM or more flow, this thing will do everything detailing-related you want it to. At $350, rated for 250 hours of use, this thing is a bargain, in my opinion. You’ll most likely get more hours using the OG Active Accessories as well due to the less restrictive nozzle.
Out of all of these entry-level pressure washers, I highly recommend the Active 2.0. If there was ever a machine I’d used besides my beloved Kranzle K1322 TS and the AR630, it’s this one. The amount of output plus the extended life you’ll get out of this unit makes it a worthy purchase.
I may sound like I’m selling this hard, but I’m telling you, you won't find another budget pressure washer on the market that has the versatility, the performance, and the lifespan as this one.