What PSI will damage car paint

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

Find answers to the most frequently asked automotive questions in our blog!

Can I pressure wash my car’s engine?

In general, you can pressure wash a car engine. It is completely safe as long as you use a pressure washer with the correct PSI. Anything between 1200 and 1900 is fine. Before pressure washing the engine, make sure that the electrical components of the engine are properly covered. Check things like the fuse box cover. Apply some degreaser and use the pressure washer to clean the dirt from your engine.

The engine is an essential component of a car. Over time, it gets dirty. Most people rarely notice dust particles sticking to the engine. Regular engine cleaning helps spot other problems like an oil leak much faster. If you want to clean your car’s engine and don’t know how to do it, let us walk you through the process:


The safe PSI for car washing is 1500-1900 PSI with 1.4-1.6 gallons per minute (GPM) to wash your car. A pressure level higher than this can seriously damage the paintwork of the car. Always set the pressure to this psi on a pressure washer before you start your cleaning job. Additionally, you can also adjust the water pressure up to 1500-1900 PSI using a white 45° nozzle.

Yes, 2000 psi is safe for car washing if you hold the pressure washer tip at an applicable distance. Additionally, experts recommend always keeping the pressure below 2000 psi for a safe car wash.

How a pressure washer helps wash a car.

  • Pre-Rinse: Remove as much dirt as possible from your car before washing it by hand.
  • Bug fixes: Scrubbing your car will scratch it. So use your pressure washer to get rid of most bugs.
  • Mud removal: Mud is easy to remove with a pressure washer.
  • Wheel Wash: That black stuff on your wheels can be washed.
  • Wheel arches: easier to get to with a pressure washer.
  • Floor Mats: Take them out and use the pressure washer to deep clean them.
  • Minimum car wash pressure: 1200 psi
  • Maximum car wash pressure: 3000 psi

Use solution

Reapply foaming vehicle detergent or soap with a low, wide spray. If your pressure washer has a feature that allows this, you can do this with it. Only allow seconds for detergent to settle; otherwise, streaks may result.

Next, focus on removing dirt and grime that was missed on the initial pass. You can use a brush nozzle if your pressure washer has a range of attachments. However, don’t use your brush on the wheels before the rest of the car; otherwise, the abrasive material from the wheel arches could be transferred to the paintwork, producing scratches.

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