Can pressure washers ruin your paint or wax?

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by ryalex, May 5, 2004.

  1. ryalex

    ryalex Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 6, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    Full Name:
    Ryan Alexander
    Whenever I got to the DIY car wash, I sometimes wonder if using the pressure spray too close to the car can damage it. Of course, I try and spray to an angle to blow the grit and dirt away from the car and not have the water grind it directly into the paint. However, I do keep the wand within a foot or so of the car in order to clean as much off as possible.

    I was wondering if high pressure can actually strip the wax and/or cause paint damage, or if I'm worrying over nothing.
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  3. Doody

    Doody F1 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2001
    MA USA
    Full Name:
    Mr. Doody
    that is my understanding. i don't use those things.

  4. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    Pressure washers can do lots of unfortunate things to paints. There might be a small tab of paint at the edge of a road rash chip. Hit it just right with a pressure washer and you can remove a square FOOT of paint as the chip lifts and enables the water to float the whole section of paint off. And for similar reasons, when I wash my car, there is no nozel on the hose. I want the most water possible at the lowest velocity.
  5. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 30, 2003
    those power washer things are for trucks that play in the mud..... not for our fcars!!!! i wont even use a car wash on my daily driver! i wash all the cars by hand ( 5 currently!)
  6. ryalex

    ryalex Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 6, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    Full Name:
    Ryan Alexander
    Wow. I'm glad I asked. My car is too! WRX's already have paint with the thickness and durability of nailpolish... better stay safe now.
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  8. LAfun2

    LAfun2 F1 Veteran

    Oct 31, 2003
    Full Name:
    Hey Ryan,

    WTH are you doing at a car wash? Have your butler take it out and detail it for ya :D

    WIth the 1 billion dollar settlement, I would hope you won't be so cheap ;) :D
  9. TCM

    TCM Formula Junior

    Nov 10, 2003
    Tyngsborough, MA
    Yes, as stated above, avoid using any pressure washers on the car. It strips wax and can also strip paint if narrow/pressure enough. Best method is to use a hose with no nozzle and let is flow over the paint, cascading the water off to avoid water spots and dirt rings that occue before you get a shot a dry the car. Think of your paint as a piece of fine jewlery. Everytime it gets hit with something, it makes a mark:(.
  10. PCH

    PCH F1 Rookie

    Apr 7, 2004
    I never really thought about it until the day I went to pick up my MB from the detailer and noticed the paint was removed from two of my Brabus wheels.
  11. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

    Sep 4, 2001
    Cumming, Georgia
    Full Name:
    Franklin E. Parker
    I use them all the time to clean the undercarriage of my cars including my BB512i. They do a great job of getting road grime off of shocks, springs and other parts under the car. But, I do avoid spraying the painted surfaces directly at close range.
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  13. AR!

    AR! Formula Junior

    Apr 8, 2004
    Berlin, Germany
    I am puzzled. If the car is dirty you somehow have to remove the partikels in a mechanical way. I always thought that using the high pressure cleaner is the gentlest option to do this. All the high pressure beam will do to your car a sponge will do also ... ?

    However, what must be avoided is to point the high pressure beam at softtops from convertibles.
  14. Wiseguy

    Wiseguy Karting

    Apr 25, 2004
    Englewood, NJ
    Full Name:
    Mr Bill
    I own a car lot and I use pressure washers on cars every day (Well, not me usually, but you know what I mean). I even use it on my F-Car as I am a lazy bastid and hate doing lots of work. The trick is to NEVER EVER EVER spray the wand DIRECTLY at the paint. EVER! You need to use it at an angle.. done properly, I can wash a normal car car (Jag, Volvo, BMW, etc) SAFELY within about 5 minutes :)

    If you guys want a Photo FAQ on this, I can supply one I suppose. PM me to remind me.
  15. Bill Sawyer

    Bill Sawyer Formula 3

    Feb 26, 2002
    I agree. If you use a 40 degree nozzle, stand a few feet away and spray at an oblique angle you should be all right. Besides, aren't you the same guys who are always complaining about Ferrari's poor paint quality?
  16. pdavis

    pdavis Rookie

    Oct 31, 2003
    Morristown New Jersey
    Full Name:
    NO pressure washing should be used on any automobile unless you want the "water" equivelent of sandblasting your paint. For gods sake just think about this logically! pd
  17. Mike C

    Mike C F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Aug 3, 2002
    Southeast USA
    Full Name:
    Mike Charness
    Most spray-it-yourself car wash places have "low pressure" settings. And you DON'T have to have the nozzle 12 inches from your car -- keep it 3 or 4 feet away. There's nothing wrong with using the convenience of the spray-it-yourself places... I do it sometimes... but use common sense.
  18. Wasco

    Wasco Formula Junior

    Dec 9, 2003
    Full Name:
    No **** guys what are you thinking I use a high pressure washer to strip the paint on engine compartments before painting, works real well!

    Unless you like finding every weakness in your paint job and blowing it wide open with up to 1k lbs of hydrolic pressure dont do it..
  19. exceldetail

    exceldetail Rookie

    May 9, 2004
    I agree 100 %. Been using hi pressure sprayers for some time now.....As said, use common sense...
  20. ryalex

    ryalex Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 6, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    Full Name:
    Ryan Alexander
    Thanks for all your responses!

    My wife just surprised me with a Mr.Clean AutoDry sprayer, so I don't think there's much fear of the DIY washers now :).
  21. Jerrari

    Jerrari F1 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2001
    Full Name:
    Jerry Wiersma
    Of the thousands of pressure washers that I have sold over the last 12 years (I'm the #1 seller of p.w.'s on e-bay and Karcher's #1 seller in the U.S.), I've yet to hear a story of someone damaging their paint. Use a 40 degree nozzle at about 12-18" and you will NOT hurt a thing. If you do, the damn thing needs repainting anyway.

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