The most powerful type of pressure washer is a gas-powered one. However, a gas pressure washer's powerful spray can more easily damage materials like wood and auto paint. In addition, as with any gas-powered tool, these models need regular engine servicing.
Among gas power washers, the Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot (Est. $400) scores highly among reviewers. It's an Editors' Choice winner at TheFamilyHandyman.com. "The beauty of this machine is its simplicity," the editors say. "The pump connections are higher off the ground and out in the open, making this machine the easiest and fastest to set up, especially if you have knee issues or have trouble bending over."
The Simpson is a runner-up gas pick at YourBestDigs.com. There, the editors ran into a problem with a leaking carburetor and indifferent customer support from the manufacturer-- and by the time the motor was inspected, the issue had disappeared. That said, the reviewers were largely impressed. "Its design, build quality, and components were all excellent," they say. Tested water output wasn't the highest tested, but it was sufficient "to handle just about any cleaning task at home."
Other reviews are strong as well, the Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot earns a recommendation from PressureWashersDirect.com's Brian Teitelbaum, who calls it "a very versatile pressure washer at a very reasonable price." User reviews at that site are also generally positive, and 88 percent of the more than 275 that weigh in give it a recommendation. Feedback is even better elsewhere, with a 4.4-star rating at Amazon.com based on reviews from nearly 880 owners. HomeDepot.com hosts more than 780 reviews -- though that includes feedback from the manufacturer's site. The MegaShot scores a rating of 4.4 stars, with 92 percent giving it a thumbs-up.
Rated at 3,100 PSI, with a maximum water output of 2.5 GPM, the MSH3125-S is ruggedly built, with an ergonomic spray gun with a safety lockout. The spray gun can accept one of five included stainless-steel quick connect nozzles. Accessories can be conveniently stored on board, and the 10-inch tires make moving this Simpson pressure washer around a breeze. The pressure washer is covered for one year, with a second year of coverage for the Honda motor. Accessories are covered for 90 days. The Simpson MSH3125-S is an especially good choice for California residents because it is CARB compliant and can be sold in that state.
For those looking to spend a little less on a gas model, the Troy-Bilt 020568 (Est. $300) is worth considering. With ratings of 2,800 PSI and 2.3 GPM, the cleaning factor will be lower than the Simpson gas pressure washers above, but should provide plenty of power for residential users.
Among experts, the Troy Bilt is an Editors' Choice winner as the Best Value at TheFamilyHandyman.com. The editors say that it's short on features but that otherwise, "It's just a solid machine with enough pressure and nozzles and flow rate to handle just about any job you'll encounter." It's also the second highest-rated gas-powered pressure washer at ConsumerReports.org. It's among the least expensive gas washers they test, but they say that you get a lot for your money. "In addition to quick, effective cleaning and very easy handling, this model has auto-choke starting, a built-in soap tank, and an auto trigger safety." It fails to earn a recommendation, however, as it is supplied with a zero-degree nozzle tip; see the Introduction to this report for more information. It's also CARB compliant, so it can be purchased by users in all 50 states.
We'd be tempted to list the Troy-Bilt 020568 among our Best Reviewed selection except for user feedback that's a little short of ideal. This pressure washer draws more than 350 reviews at Lowes.com, its exclusive retailer, but a lackluster 3.5 star score and recommendations from around 73 percent of owners. It appears that a lot of the complaints have to do with carburetor and starting issues, something that's commonplace with lots of small gas engine power tools and the prevalence of ethanol gas. Briggs & Stratton, the maker of the gas motor in this Troy Bilt pressure washer offers some tips on choosing the right fuel for small engine outdoor power equipment. On the plus side, many owners report trouble-free operation.
The gas pressure washers profiled above are consumer units. They might be suitable for use by some painting and other contractors, but for heavy-duty, long-term performance and reliability, a commercial pressure washer is a better alternative for most. Commercial pressure washers are ruggedly built and offer a higher cleaning factor than even the most powerful consumer pressure washers. While most consumer pressure washers are subject to shorter warranty terms when used in commercial applications, professional pressure washers are usually fully covered for commercial use as well.
Feedback on commercial pressure washers isn't extensive, but we saw some good reviews for the Pressure-Pro Professional E4040HC (Est. $1,380). This is a super rugged, high-power gas pressure washer, rated to deliver 4,000 PSI and 4.0 GPM. It features a Honda GX engine and a CAT Triplex Plunger Pump, which is judged to be more durable than the pumps typically found in residential models. It's built on a weld-free, aircraft-grade aluminum frame, which carries a lifetime warranty. The engine is covered for three years; the pump for two. Accessories, which are covered for 90 days, include 50-feet of steel re-enforced, non-marking hose and a spray gun that can accept the five included quick-connect nozzles.
Brian Teitelbaum at PressureWashersDirect.com says that the Pressure-Pro gas commercial pressure washer is "an excellent professional pressure washer choice in this price range." His site is where we also spotted the most user feedback, more than 80 reviews, with 98 percent saying that they recommend the E4040HC. While this model isn't currently available at Amazon.com, we saw more than 15 additional user reviews, with all but one owner giving this gas pressure washer a 5-star rating -- and that was with issues with the shipper, not the pressure washer, which he describes as "great". It's CARB compliant, so it's another good choice for California residents.