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Used Pressure Washer Buying Guide
I realize that not everyone wants to pay full price for a brand new pressure washer – you may not need one all that frequently, and I know they can be quite expensive.
For some folks, finding a good price on a used model will make the most financial sense, and sometimes you can even find a bargain.
But buyer beware!
Sometimes what seems inexpensive can quickly turn into something that seems (and is!) worthless. Here I’ve tried to put together some buying tips for those looking for a used pressure washer.
My hope is that I’ll save you some future heartburn!
Knowing where to look is the first step. I have found that yard sales and estate sales can turn up some good bargains on machines that have been well taken care of.
Deals can occasionally be found at local auctions, but my experience is that these are often sold for more than they are worth.
The selection at local auctions frequently consists of machines that others have found at the yard sales and estate sales, put a few minutes of work into, and they are now trying to flip them for a quick profit.
These may look good now, but their current condition may not be a reflection of the care given to them over the course of their working life.
Craigslist is a place that I would probably recommend avoiding. Here you really don’t know what you could be getting yourself into, as this is a place loaded with potentially stolen goods and items of questionable condition. Just be careful out there.
Once you have found a pressure washer that strikes your interest, I advise looking at any reviews you can find for that model when it was new.
If the machine was of questionable quality when new, you may have quickly and easily determined why the current owner is looking to get rid of it! Trust me, they don’t improve with age!
After you find a model that has solid reviews, try to determine the price that others like it are selling for. Looking at eBay for “completed listings” can serve this purpose quite well, however, my favorite way to do this takes a bit more time.
I’ve found that the best determination of value comes from experience shopping for the product in question. Repeated patient trips to the local auction or sales will give you the best ability to gauge what a product is worth – from pressure washers to cars.
Check For Obvious Defects
If you’ve found a model that you like for what seems like a decent price, you’re off to a great start. Next we need to make sure this specific machine is the right one for you. Give the washer a good lookover to make sure parts aren’t missing or broken from obvious abuse.
Check the engine oil – make sure the level is adequate and the oil isn’t super dark. Smell the dipstick – if the dipstick has a burnt smell, this is an obvious sign of trouble brewing. Definitely avoid. Unfortunately many owners of small engine machines like lawn mowers and pressure washers will fill the engine oil when it is brand new and never check it again, let alone change it.
Take a look at the air filter – is it dirty, clogged, ripped, or missing? This can also be a huge red flag. Any sign that the engine has been ingesting dirty air could indicate improper care and mistreatment.
Open the gas tank – is the gas of a proper color and smell? Are there sediments accumulated in the tank? A washer that is well taken care of will have fresh gas and a clean tank.
If the engine has sufficient oil and a functional air filter, time to make sure it runs and pumps like we expect it to. A well cared for machine should start within 3 pulls.
Beyond that, it likely has carburetor or spark problems that could turn into a real headache. If it starts up like you expect it to, it should come to a nice steady idle when it isn’t under load. Any hiccups at idle could be a sign of underlying issues.
Another thing to pay attention to is the idle speed – crafty small engine mechanics that can’t get a machine to idle like it should will often crank up the idle speed to hide the problem. That’s just something you should be aware of.
Last but not least, you want to check the pump out. If the pump is leaking, this could be a sign that the pressure washer was allowed to sit in freezing temps and no longer seals properly. A machine that has lost its seal will not build the pressure it was designed to.
Test the sprayer out – does it produce the pressure that you expect it to? If not, the pump may be damaged or worn and could require a costly replacement in the future.
Hopefully you will find these tips helpful when searching for a used pressure washer!