A good pressure washer is something that every car guy/gal should own. Even if you have no interest in detailing at all, you’ll need something to get that mud off your truck after a trip through the sticks.
For most people, the best pressure washer for detailing cars is going to be electric, produce around 1,000 PSI, and flow at least 1.2 GPM or more. Attention should also be paid towards fittings, hoses, and accessories like guns and foam cannons.
After a lot of thought and research, I chose to go with the popular K1700 Cube from Karcher. I didn’t stop there though. I also upgraded to the setup from Obsessed Garage. This ended up costing nearly double the price of the pressure washer itself – and it was worth every penny.
What is Obsessed Garage?
Obsessed Garage was founded by Matt Moreman in Central Florida. It started out as a Youtube channel and a podcast but quickly grew into a larger brand and online store.
Unlike much of the detailing community that overuses the term “OCD”, Matt actually suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While I’m sure it puts a serious strain on his daily life, it also causes him to obsess over every little detail when researching things. That’s actually a big positive for us consumers.
Matt’s the kind of guy that has every part number and every specification memorized. When he decides to pursue something, he chases the absolute best solution to a problem.
Case in point: when trying to come up with a lower budget pressure washer setup to sell in his store, he personally bought more than 60 pressure washers – then tested each and every one of them to figure out which one was worthy of his reputation.
Karcher is the brand that Matt settled on after being pleasantly surprised by their performance. He offers solutions for a few different models but it seems the K1700 is the most popular.
How to order:
Obsessed Garage offers a handy configurator on their site that makes the ordering process really easy. There are tons of options to configure and this breaks it down step by step so you can choose which options you want to spend more money on and which ones are less important to you.
The configurator allows you to choose your quick disconnect fittings, hoses, gun, wand, foam cannon, and nozzles. This makes sure everything you buy will snap together without having to deal with the headache of finding the right fittings. Matt has already done all of this so we don’t have to. That short cut is a big selling point here.
You can head over to the Obsessed Garage configurator by clicking here:
Obsessed Garage Karcher K1700 Setup
I wasn’t looking to break the bank on my pressure washer setup so I chose to save some money on a few components. The base for my setup is the Karcher K1700.
There are 2 different versions of the K1700 – the regular model and the Cube. The only real difference is that the Cube has no wheels or extended handle. Since I don’t plan to be moving it around much, the Cube made more sense to me. It takes up a bit less space on the garage floor.
I stuck with the quick disconnects that came on the hose and gun so I didn’t need to order extras. I also skipped the inlet hose as I already had one ready to go.
The 25′ long KobraJet 3/8″ hose is just long enough to reach around to the back of a car when the pressure washer is placed in front of the car. If I had to be picky, I’d say this length is a tiny bit short but it’s worth the price savings over the expensive longer options. This is a really high quality hose that comes with quick disconnects (and a swivel on one end).
I chose the MTM SG28 gun. According to Matt himself, there isn’t much of a noticeable difference between this and the more expensive guns. The only things worth mentioning are the plastic vs. ball bearing trigger and the swivel feature. I just make sure to connect the swivel end of the hose to the gun for ease of use.
The Mosmatic 20″ wand also comes with quick disconnects on it. Is this wand absolutely necessary for washing cars? Not really. You could get by with just the gun itself. As a matter of fact, you likely won’t be using the wand when washing wheels or using a foam cannon. I still included it because I do find myself washing taller or larger vehicles often.
It’s safe to say I’m not the biggest fanboy when it comes to foam cannons. You can read more about whether I feel they’re required to wash a car safely or not in this article: Since I’ll only be using it occasionally, I stuck with the cheaper original MTM cannon. It’s built well and does the job just fine.
The white 40 degree nozzle is the only one I’ve used with this pressure washer. As far as I know, the only way for it to be included is to buy the whole 4 nozzle kit. Who knows, maybe the others will come in handy in the future.
If you’d rather avoid configuring your own solution, you can purchase a complete setup here.
Karcher Vs. Obsessed Garage – why upgrade?
The Karcher K1700 will work fine for washing cars right out of the box. It’ll do the job, but the user experience won’t be the greatest. This is a cheap, plastic pressure washer.
The difference between the Obsessed Garage equipment and the stuff that Karcher includes is night and day. Everything is much better quality. The swivels and quick disconnects make life so much easier. On top of that, it all just feels like it’s going to last a lot longer.
For me, the biggest improvement is the spray pattern of the SG28 gun. If you’ve ever used a cheaper pressure washer straight out of the box, you know that gun has a very narrow spray pattern. The best way to describe it is that it feels like you’re spraying lines into the mud on your fender rather than spraying all the mud off of it. It just isn’t as effective.
Matt has “dialed in” this setup to spray a lot like the gun at a coin-op car wash. Lots of water, decent pressure, and a nice wide pattern that doesn’t take 50 passes to rinse a panel. The difference here is worth the price alone.
The hose and fittings are much beefier than the Karcher options and it’s quite clear that they’ll survive a lot more abuse. As for the wand – we’re comparing a plastic one to stainless steel. That’s a no brainer. In a nutshell, the Karcher hose, wand, and gun are trash.
You’ll pay a premium to upgrade with the Obsessed Garage equipment but it will completely change the user experience and the longevity of the setup. In my opinion, this no longer feels like you’re using an entry level pressure washer. This is a big improvement without having to spend thousands on a Kranzle setup.
The K1700 comes pretty close to its 1700 PSI and 1.2 GPM ratings. With the OG upgrade, that changes to 1.45 GPM around 1000psi with a 40 degree nozzle.
Warning! Always give the gun a quick spray away from the car after connecting the nozzle. It doesn’t matter how sure of yourself you are, there are times when the quick disconnect isn’t clipped in fully and the nozzle will shoot out. With that kind of pressure, it turns into a projectile that can easily dent a fender or break a window.
A foam cannon isn’t included with the Karcher setup so there’s nothing to compare to there. If you buy one from OG, it comes pre-taped and torqued with the correct orfice installed. That saves you some hassle.
One of the selling points of these Karcher pressure washers is their 3 year parts and labor warranty. If something goes wrong, you can contact Karcher (not Obsessed Garage) and get a direct replacement.
I’ve been very happy with the way this pressure washer setup has been working. It’s not the cheapest way to rinse a car but I don’t mind spending the money when the improvement is this noticeable.
Sure, you could build this exact setup for cheaper by sourcing everything yourself. There’s nothing stopping you from doing that. But Matt often preaches his view on “honoring the source” and I have to say I agree with him.
Keep in mind, he spent thousands of dollars buying all of the most popular pressure washers on the market. Then he tested each one to see how they performed. Then he sat down and spent who knows how many hours (I can’t imagine) fine tuning fittings and calculations to make this solution work as well as it does. He’s given us the cheat codes. He deserves to be rewarded for all that work.
Every time I’ve ordered from Obsessed Garage I find they have some of the best customer service in the business. When you call or email them, they’re real people. They’re the guys you see in the background of the Youtube videos. You might even get an update on your order from Matt’s dad. They’re a small team doing big things. That’s tough to find these days.
What PSI is safe for washing cars?
Although your paint isn’t quite as delicate as some people believe, 3000+ PSI is still way too much for detailing your car. You don’t need that kind of pressure and it only increases the chance of peeling up paint or vinyl. 1000-1500 PSI seems to be the sweet spot when it comes to washing cars.
The water flow (Gallons Per Minute) is much more important and yet most people don’t pay nearly as much attention to it. It’s best to worry less about the PSI rating and focus on the GPM rating.
Can I pressure wash my engine?
On modern vehicles, it’s relatively safe as long as you use common sense. Obviously, you don’t want to spray directly at your alternator or wiring connections. But keep in mind that cars and trucks nowadays are built to withstand pretty tough conditions.
As long as you stay back a safe distance and cover up or avoid any sensitive areas, pressure washing your engine bay shouldn’t cause any problems.
Is a pressure washer worth it for detailing?
Absolutely. Pre rinsing with a pressure washer is always going to get the car cleaner before you physically wash it. Anytime you have the ability to remove contaminants without touching the paint, you decrease the risk of creating scratches.
Pressure washers are especially helpful when maintaining ceramic coated vehicles. The best attribute of a ceramic coating is how much easier they make it to clean the vehicle.
While you can still take advantage of those coating characteristics with a garden hose, it’s simply awesome when using a pressure washer. Bugs, bird droppings, and mud all fly off the surface with ease and require much less scrubbing to remove. If you own a ceramic coated vehicle, I’d highly recommend buying a pressure washer.
A pressure washer isn’t 100% required to wash a well-maintained car safely though. Head over to this article to read more about washing your car with a garden hose.
Should you buy a gas or electric pressure washer?
It’s easy to think that bigger is always better. A powerful gas pressure washer must work better, right? Not necessarily.
Electric pressure washers have come a long way. They don’t require any oil or gas, they’re much quieter, they’re cheaper and they offer enough pressure and GPM to wash a car properly.
Gas powered pressure washers are better suited for bigger jobs around the house like cleaning up driveways, decks, and fence boards. An electric one will struggle to do these tasks. If all you’re doing is washing cars, an electric pressure washer is all you need.
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: