What is the water pressure at a car wash?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs, Tips and Tricks on Thursday, July 25th, 2019 at 3:35 pm
Water sprays upon a blue car at a high pressure for the purpose of washing.

Automatic Car Wash Pressure

Getting blasted by water from all sides is one unique aspect of being in an automatic car wash. Sometimes it’s tempting to get out of the car and just run through it yourself. If you did so, what would it feel like? What is the water pressure of your average automated car wash?

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Car washes typically blast out their liquid at 1,000 to 1,200 PSI, although pressures can go up to 2,200 in some situations. For this reason, along with the squirts of hot wax and slaps from towels, we do not recommend going through a car wash on foot.

A man sprays a white car with a pressure washer for the purpose of washing.

Can I wash my car using a pressure washer?

You may be asking about water pressure not because you want to run through a car wash but because you’re looking to wash your car yourself using a pressure washer. This can be done, but it’s a dangerous game to play. Too much pressure (generally anything more than 1,900 PSI) can damage the paint job on your vehicle. If you’re determined to do so, keep the following tips in mind.

  • In addition to using the right pressure (1,000 to 1,200 PSI), make sure you use the correct nozzle. A 25 degree, or green, nozzle is good for a pre-wash rinse. This thing unleashes a more intense spray, so it works to get rid of the matted grime and mud that you dirty folks out there may have accumulated.
  • The 40 degree, or white, nozzle is great for the standard wash. It covers a large area at a time and is less intense, so it makes a nice choice for the surface of the car.
  • Finally, we recommend using an electric rather than gas-powered power washer for this job. The gas-powered variety can just be too dangerously pressurized and may end up tearing your car (or at least the paint job) to shreds.

What is PSI?

PSI stands for “Pounds per Square Inch” and is a unit used to measure water pressure.

Water flow can also be measured in GPM, which stands for “Gallons Per Minute” and refers to the amount of water being released in a sixty second time frame. Additionally, there’s something known as Cleaning Units, which is equivalent to PSI x GPM.


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