Under pressure: we pit three of the finest washers on the market together
A pressure washer can drastically change the way you clean a car – but how do they compare?
A pressure washer is a tool which can comprehensively help the way you clean a car. Though it’s often the case that the hose and bucket are reached for when trying to give any vehicle a scrub down, a pressure washer can make things easier, quicker and more effective too.
But there are nearly as many on the market today as there are cars. All offer something different; varying power levels, various attachments and even car cleaning-specific tools. And, of course, there is all manner of prices too.
We’ve got three big hitters here today. There’s the Bosch AdvancedAquatak 140, which sits at the higher end of the market when it comes to outright performance. We’ve also got an offering from Draper, which arrives with some punchy outputs. And then there’s an entry from Karcher – arguably one of the most recognisable names in the business – with its K4 Full Control Home Pressure Washer.
Up first we have the Bosch. Straight away it makes a good impression – it’s the only one which comes straight out of the box practically pre-assembled. There are a few elements to attach, such as the hose connector, but it’s all pretty much ready to go from the off. It’s the heaviest here by some margin at 17.55kg – compared to 10.5kg with Draper’s offering an 11.4kg for the Karcher – but, thanks to its chunky wheels, it’s not a hard thing to move about.
Clicked into both power and water, the Bosch is an impressive thing to use. It’s powerful – with up to 140 bar of pressure available – and this means it breezes through initial dirt and grime. It’s even strong enough to clean most of the muck off the alloy wheels without having to pre-treat them. We’d argue that you’d have to keep a close eye on how long you wash a particular area – the Bosch feels strong enough to start stripping paint or at least loosen rust-prone areas. However, it’s quiet and easy to use, while the in-built hose real keeps things tidy. It’s lockable too, so the reel won’t let out more hose than you need.
Up next, there’s the unit from Draper. It’s a punchy little thing, eclipsing the Bosch’s 140 bar of pressure with its own 165kg, despite weighing less. There’s a more audible din when the Draper springs into life, and the attachments don’t feel as sturdy nor as solidly attached. That said, it comes with an extremely handy angular tool – ideal for cleaning underneath wheel arches where the other two struggle to reach. It’s definitely a plus in favour of the Draper, alongside the price – at £158.95, it drastically undercuts the £280 for the Bosch or £279.99 for the Karcher.
And then we come to the Karcher. Bright yellow, it’s a machine which is hard to miss. Out of the three, it certainly requires the most set up; there are a variety of plastic trim pieces to attach, along with the wheels. But about 25 minutes later, we’re up and running.
Immediately it’s down on the other two, simply because it lacks a reel for the hose. When you’re washing down a car it means that the hose drops onto the ground and drags along, picking up grit and water. The reel keeps things far tidier – though there is a hose guide to thread through, which does help somewhat. But it counters with ease-of-use and the ‘Full Control’ trigger; this shows you via a handy LED panel on the lance itself as to which setting you’re in, and which surface it’s appropriate for.
It means that you shouldn’t accidentally pick a setting too strong for paint or delicate surfaces. The lance itself feels of very high quality too and like it’ll stand up to many, many more washes to come.
So how do they stack up together? Well, we’d argue that the Bosch is the most well-rounded here. However, it’s heavy – easily the heaviest here – and that could be an issue for those who don’t want to lift a weightY pressure washer around the car. Draper’s pressure washer is a surprise entry here; it punches well above its weight in terms of performance, but then it’s louder and less solidly-built than the other two.
Finally, there’s the Karcher. The ability to see what setting you’ve selected is a sterling idea, while its relatively low weight makes it easy to orientate around the vehicle you’re cleaning. But that lack of reel does clutter up your area somewhat.
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.