A pressure washer is an extremely useful tool for cleaning everything from stained driveways to car foot mats. While you can rent one from most hardware stores, if you plan to use it more than a couple of times per year, it makes sense to purchase one of your own. When you begin shopping, however, you’ll soon learn there are many affordable gas pressure washers available.
What is the best gas pressure washer under $400? Generac’s 7019 OneWash is the best gas powered pressure washer for under $400 because not only does it provide plenty of cleaning power, it also has features that make it easy for homeowners to use. If you care less about the luxuries, I recommend Simpson Cleaning’s MSH3125 MegaShot.
Gas powered pressure washers can provide twice as much cleaning power as electric powered models, and aren’t limited by the reach of extension cords. Professional models are designed for constant, high performance work, but are large, loud, and can cost several thousand dollars. You can find a quality gas pressure washer for occasional, residential use for under $400.
The Best Gas Pressure Washer Under $400
There are plenty of gas-powered pressure washers available. For under $400, you can purchase a residential gas model, which will be twice as fast and effective as electric models, but not nearly as powerful as commercial strength power washers.
Power isn’t the only factor, however, that needs to be taken into consideration. If you are looking for a power washer in this price range, you are probably intending it for residential use. Under this assumption, factors such as how loud the engine is, how hard the unit is to move, and how much maintenance is required all may be important.
Taking these assumptions into consideration, the best gas pressure washer for under $400 is the 7019 OneWash produced by Generac.
|Product Name||Generac 7019 OneWash 3,100 PSI, 2.4 GPM, Gas Powered Pressure Washer and PowerDial Gun|
|Price||$390.99 on Amazon|
|Dimensions||35.5 by 18.9 by 24.2 inches|
|Max PSI||3100 PSI|
|Max GPM||2.4 GPM|
|Cleaning Power||7,440 CUs|
|Engine||196cc Generac OHV|
|Hose||25 foot high pressure hose|
|Detergent Tank||½ Gallon|
|Accessories||4 quick-change nozzle tips: 0°, 25°, 40° and soap|
The Generac 7019 OneWash Pressure Washer offers plenty of power, and plenty of comfort and ease of use. An integrated power dial and 4 quick change nozzle tips make it easy to adjust the water pressure so you can use it on a wide range of surfaces without worrying about damaging the item. It also has an attached detergent tank.
It’s actually fairly lightweight compared to similar models, and the 10-inch wheels and an upright design make it easy to wheel the OneWash wherever you need it, and the 25-foot-high pressure hose makes it easy to reach your target. The upright design also gives the pressure washer a smaller footprint when stored away in your garage, where space can be rather limited.
Generac has done a great job creating a gas-powered pressure washer that is great for residential use. From the powerful pump and engine capable of creating enough cleaning power to get rid of the most stubborn stains, to the ergonomic wand handle that makes it easy for anyone to use for extended periods.
If you’re willing to sacrifice some of the creature comforts for a little more power, however, you may be interested in the SIMPSON Cleaning MSH3125-S.
|Product Name||Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda GC190, 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM|
|Price||$398 on Amazon|
|Dimensions||23.25 by 21 by 34.75 inches|
|Max PSI||3200 PSI|
|Max GPM||2.5 GPM|
|Cleaning Power||8,000 CUs|
|Engine||HONDA® GC190 engine|
|Pump||Axial Cam Pump|
|Hose||25 foot MorFlex™ quarter inch hose|
|Detergent Tank||Detergent Siphon Tube|
|Warranty||1 year limited warranty, 2 year on Honda Engine, 90-Days on gun, hose, lance, nozzles|
|Accessories||5 Quick connect nozzle tipsDetergent siphon tube filterEngine oil|
Simpson Cleaning’s MegaShot is built for power, but not comfort. It’s 3,200 PSI and 2.5 GPM gives it an impressive cleaning power of 8,000 CUs. It’s all steel frame and metal components make it powerful and durable, but also loud and heavy. The Honda motor, however, is legendary for its reliability.
It also has 10 inch wheels to make it easy to move, but the design is a wheelbarrow style frame that lies flat, which means it will take up significantly more garage floorspace, and if you have a bad back it might be a pain bending over to drag it around.
Despite these more industrial features, it is still not designed as a commercial pressure washer, so if you plan to use it constantly day in and day out, you’ll need to invest in a more expensive model. It is, however, incredibly powerful for anything you need to do around the house on the weekend.
A Couple of Honorary Mentions
Though not my top picks, the Ryobi 2700 and Karcher G3200OC pressure washers are also good tools for under $400 and may be more suited to your particular needs and preferences.
The Ryobi 2700 is not quite as powerful as the others mentioned, but it is even more compact and the quick release handle makes it even easier to store away. It’s 12-inch wheels make it easy to move.
The Karcher G3200OC has an 18 gauge steel, powder coated frame, and has as much cleaning power as the MegaShot. It’s also lighter and has a (somewhat) more upright design. Without Simpson Cleaning’s Honda engine, however, it just doesn’t take the cake.
|Product Name||Ryobi 2700-PSI 2.3-GPM Gas Pressure Washer||Karcher G3200OC 196cc, Gas Power Pressure Washer, Pro Series, 3200 PSI, 2.5 GPM|
|Price||currently unavailable on Amazon||currently unavailable on Amazon|
|Dimensions||23.5 by 21 by 21 inches||35 by 22 by 23 inches|
|Max PSI||2700 PSI||3200 PSI|
|Max GPM||2.3 GPM||2.5 GPM|
|Cleaning Power||6,210 CUS||8,000 CUs|
|Weight||62 pounds||66.1 pounds|
|Engine||OHV||Karcher KXS 196 cc|
|Pump||Axial||Axial Cam Pump|
|Hose||25 foot non-marring high pressure hose||25 foot PVC high pressure hose|
|Detergent Tank||Yes||Detergent siphon hose|
|Warranty||3 Year Limited||3 years engine, 2 years pump|
|Accessories||4 quick-connect nozzles (0°, 25°, 40°, soap)25 ft. non-marring high pressure hose||Four Nozzles — 0°, 15°, 25°, 40°Soap quick-connect nozzles25ft PVC high pressure hoseDetergent siphon hose|
Pressure Washer Features to Consider
Because there are so many options when you are looking for a gas-powered pressure washer for under $400, you’ll need to know more about the features of pressure washers so you can make informed comparisons. Even though I’ve given my top pick(s) above, you may find some other pressure washer is better suited to your needs and preferences.
Gas or Electric Power
One of the most important factors to consider is the power source you wish to use. This choice will have effects not only on how much power your pressure washer can put out, but also the weight, portability, noise, and amount of required maintenance you need to deal with.
There are 3 basic categories of pressure washers:
- Electric Powered
- Gas Powered (Residential)
- Gas Powered (Professional)
Electric powered pressure washers are great for light jobs around the house. Electric models are simple to use and don’t need much maintenance. They are usually only about 20 or 30 pounds, so they are light enough to carry to the job sight. They typically have a pressure per square inch (PSI) of around 1,800 to 2,000 PSI and can pass about 1.3 to 1.5 gallons per minute (GPM), giving them a cleaning power range of 2,340 to 3,000 CUs. (More on those stats below.)
Residential gas powered pressure washers, on the other hand, offer more power. Some of the models we compared have cleaning powers ranging from 6,000 to 8,000 CUs, meaning that they can get the job done 2 (or sometimes 3) times faster than electric models.
Gas pressure washers are louder and heavier, but they do not need to be plugged into a power outlet, so you can use them in more remote locations. They do, however, require a lot more maintenance as you will need to constantly monitor the levels of gas and oil, and properly winterize the engine before storing it for the off season.
- TIP: When buying a gas powered pressure washer, pick one with an induction motor. Though induction motors are heavier and cost about $50 to $75 more than universal motors, the former are also quieter, more rugged, and tend to last longer.
Professional gas powered pressure washers are even more powerful. Some have cleaning powers of 25,000 CUs (there’s even one that has 72,500), and can strip paint and remove graffiti from concrete. Of course, they cost several thousands of dollars, and are much more powerful than you’re likely to need at home.
Max Pressure in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI)
One of the ways a pressure washer’s cleaning ability is measured is the maximum water pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). The higher the max PSI, the easier it is for the pressure washer to remove organic matter, dirt, and stains from the hard surface you wish to clean.
- Electric powered pressure washers usually have max PSIs of about 1,800 to 2,000 PSI.
- Residential gas-powered pressure washers often have max PSIs of around 3,000 PSI.
- Professional gas-powered pressure washers can have max PSIs of 4,000 to 7,000 PSI.
For comparison, an unaided water hose has a max PSI of about 40 PSI. Clearly a pressure washer can add a lot of power to your cleaning ability.
Max Gallons per Minute (GPM)
Another way a pressure washer’s cleaning ability is measured is by how much water it can spray at once, which is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). The higher the max GPM, the more quickly the debris that has been detached from the surface being cleaned can be washed away from the area. The higher the GPM, the faster the job is usually done.
- Electric powered pressure washers usually have max GPMs of 1.3 to 1.5 GPM.
- Residential gas-powered pressure washers often have max GPMs of around 2.5 GPM.
- Professional gas-powered pressure washers can have max GPMs of 4 to 10 GPM.
Cleaning Power (CUs)
A pressure washer’s cleaning power, measured in cleaning units (CUs), is calculated by multiplying the washer’s max PSI by its max GPM. This is a more useful figure than comparing max PSI alone because even if a washer has enough pressure to remove the dirt, the job will be slow unless there is enough water flowing to clean it from the area.
- Electric powered pressure washers usually have maximum cleaning power of about 2,000 to 3,000 CUs.
- Residential gas-powered pressure washers often have maximum cleaning power of 6,000 to 8,000 CUs.
- Professional gas-powered pressure washers can have maximum cleaning power of 25,000 (or even 72,500) CUs.
Sometimes you will want as much cleaning power as possible concentrated in a localized area, such as if you are removing a small stain from your driveway. Other times, however, you will want to spread out the water stream from your wand to not only cover more surface at once, but also to disperse the pressure.
If you are cleaning a car, for example, not only would it take a lot longer to clean with a direct stream, but also the concentrated pressure would likely damage the car’s paint job. Instead you will want to use a nozzle tip to fan the spray out.
Your pressure washer will likely come with several nozzle tips of various sizes. If they are not included with the pressure washer, they are probably available for sale as accessories. Some wands even have tips with multiple nozzle sizes that you can switch simply by twisting the head as you would an adjustable shower head.
Though the nozzles may be different depending on the proprietary attachment designs between various manufacturers, the sizes are typically universally color coded.
- Red nozzle. 0 degrees. – This tip gives a narrow stream that concentrates all of the pressure washer’s cleaning power on one spot to clean very difficult to remove stains. Some people consider this tip too dangerous for use, especially on the more powerful models.
- Yellow nozzle. 15 degrees. – This tip provides an angled spray for focused cleaning of difficult to remove dirt. People that consider the red, 0-degree tip too dangerous say the same results can be achieved with this tip and a little patience.
- Green nozzle. 25 degrees. – This nozzle gives a medium angled spray that is ideal for washing sensitive and soft surfaces.
- White nozzle. 40 degrees. – This nozzle provides a large angled spray for rinsing and cleaning surfaces quickly.
- Black nozzle. 65 degrees. – Also called the soap nozzle, this tip is designed for spreading detergents and cleaning fluids if your pressure washer has a detergent tank.
You’re going to want a dependable engine in your gas-powered pressure washer. You want one with plenty of power, and a reputation for running reliably for a long time. Honda engines are notoriously dependable. Induction motors are heavier and cost about $50 to $75 more than universal motors, the former are also quieter, more rugged, and tend to last longer.
Some engines required a lot of maintenance, whereas others will last a long time on their own. Some modern models advertise that you will never need to add or change oil to the engine for the lifetime of the pressure washer. If you live in a cold climate, you’ll need to drain and winterize most models before storing in an unheated garage for the winter.
You also need a dependable pump. Again, this will be a balance of the power you want and the amount of maintenance you are willing to (or capable to) keep up with.
A quality hose is an often-overlooked feature when choosing a pressure washer. When in use, the hose will be dragged over rocks and cement, and will often get wet and dirty. If the hose is of low quality this wear and tear will soon damage the hose and lead to leaking and loss of pressure.
Another factor to consider is if the hose will lay flat while in use. Many pressure washers have a cord reel around which the hose is wrapped when not in use. Low quality hose material will become stiff in this position over time, and when the hose is unfurled it will retain a lot of the hoops and turns. This makes the hose a tripping hazard, shortens the reach of the hose, and makes it more prone to kinks and damage.
Many pressure washer hoses are 20 or 25 feet in length. A few offer a 30-foot hose. Even this little bit of extra length can make it easier to reach everywhere you need to when cleaning. Extension hoses are also available if you need to reach a second story or other distant area.
The pressure washer’s wand is what you will have the most contact with, so its features are the most subject to your personal preference. Make sure you pick a pressure washer with a wand that is comfortable for you to hold and use for long periods of time.
Some pressure wands are metal, and others are plastic. The metal wands tend to be more durable and can accommodate accessories like nozzle tips more easily. Make sure you pick a wand with an ergonomic design and a trigger system that is both easy to push and hold, and not too stiff. Any discomfort will be amplified the longer you use your pressure washer.
Unless you have a low power, electric model, your pressure washer will probably be heavier than you can comfortably carry around. For this reason, pressure washers are built onto a frame with wheels so you can simply cart the washer into place.
Bigger wheels will make it easier to drag the unit over rough terrain, up and down curbs and stairs, and through mud. You want wheels that are not only large in diameter, but also rugged in quality. Cheap models might have small plastic wheels while tougher models will have strong, non-puncturable tires.
Of course, a major factor in choosing a pressure washer is cost. The many features of different models can affect the price greatly. As a general rule, however, the more you invest, the more you will get.
- Electric powered pressure washers typically cost around $150 to $250.
- Residential gas-powered pressure washers often cost between $300 and $500. (Though, as we’ve shown, there are some great options under $400.)
- Professional gas-powered pressure washers can cost several thousand dollars. (THe biggest one we found was $25,000.)
Pressure washers provide enough power that a direct stream of water from the wand may be able to pierce the skin or even cut through some safety materials, such as boots. Make sure you always wear appropriate safety equipment and keep the wand pointed away from you or any other living things.
Because of the concentrated power of 0 degree nozzle tips, some organizations, including Consumer Reports recommend disposing of any red, 0 degree nozzles that may come with your pressure washer as they pose more of a danger than they are worth, and similar results can be achieved with a yellow, 15 degree nozzle tip and a little more time.
Of course, this danger increases alongside the increased power of gas residential and commercial models.
Electric models pose their own safety hazards in that they combine electricity and a wet work area. Take care to position your pressure washer out of the direct path of water drainage, and wear appropriate rubber soled boots and waiters to reduce the risk of electrocution.
What Can You Wash with a Pressure Washer?
With the proper pressure settings and nozzle tip attachments, you can clean many things with your pressure washer. Make sure you adjust the settings so you do not damage delicate surfaces and have enough power for tougher jobs.
With the proper settings, you can use a pressure washer to clean:
- and much more.
If you have a strong enough unit (probably a commercial strength gas powered pressure washer), you can even use it to strip paint.
Can You Use a Pressure Washer to Clean Your Car?
Yes. Even though you have to be careful not to apply too much direct pressure, which could damage your car’s paint job, you can use a pressure washer to clean your car. Make sure you reduce the amount of water pressure (PSI) on your unit and use a nozzle that fans the spray out to reduce the risk of damage.
Can You Use Water from an Open Source Like a Pond or a Lake for Your Pressure Washer?
No. While some pressure washers include filters to prevent debris from damaging the internal workings of your pressure washer’s pump, there is too great a risk that using an open source of water will result in damage to your pressure washer.
Can You Use Hot Water for Your Pressure Washer?
No. Pressure washers are not designed to use a hot water source. Doing so may damage the internal workings of your pump.
Never Run Your Pressure Washer When Not Attached to a Water Source
Running your pressure washer when not attached to a water source can result in the high pressure seals within the unit being blown out. Make sure that the source is properly connected, the valve is turned fully open, and that there are not any kinks in the water supply line before turning on the pressure washer to avoid damage.
Taking all of the factors mentioned into consideration, I think the Generac 7019 OneWash is the best gas pressure washer under $400. It not only offers plenty of cleaning power, but it is well designed to be easy to use, store and maintain. It’s a great option for a residential gas powered pressure washer.