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The Nilfisk Excellent 170 is the best pressure washer we've tested for snow foaming a car

4 out of 54.0

Nilfisk Excellent 170

from Amazon
£370.00 View offer

Written by Ryan Gilmore Published: 21 June 2024 Updated: 24 June 2024

It takes a lot of faith to include a word of high praise in a product name, so the Nilfisk Excellent 170 pressure washer really must be outstanding. Nilfisk is no stranger to the world of pressure washers and has a range of pressure washers we’d heartily recommend for car care. The Nilfisk Core 140 is our current favourite pressure washer, so the newer and more powerful Excellent 170 should be a recipe for success.

The Excellent models sit in the brand’s mid-range, with this at the top. The 170 in the name translates to the maximum bars of pressure the all-metal induction motor produces. Most domestic pressure washers run out of puff at 150, so, partnered with a flow rate of 498 litres an hour, the 170 boasts the kind of specs that should really make it a class leader.

Beyond the ample performance, Nilfisk pack the 170 with a bunch of clever touches, all designed to make domestic cleaning easier. From the 10-metre Steelflex hose that prevents kinks to the Click&Clean coupling that makes swapping attachments seamless.   

These are all excellent features, but Nilfisk could be surmised as sitting in Karcher’s shadow when it comes to pressure washers. So, are these specs and features enough for us to champion blue over yellow? I grabbed a mucky press car to see if I could be swayed.

Verdict: The ideal domestic pressure washer for car care

Score: 4.5/5

The best pressure washer for detailers
Price: $743.86


  • Exceptional pressure washing performance
  • Durable build quality
  • The best pressure washer for car cleaning
  • Plenty of attachments included


  • Weighs a lot
  • Hampered manoeuvrability
  • Snow foam lance could be improved
  • Car cleaning ability
  • Garden cleaning ability
  • Ease of use
  • Value for money
  • Overall
Maximum pressure 170 bar
Flow rate 498 litres per hour
Dimensions 35 x 36.5 x 73 cm
Weight 21.5 kg
Hose length 10 metres
Cable length Five metres
  • Included attachments: Foam lance, 3-in-1 multipurpose gun, nozzle cleaning needle

What’s good about the Nilfisk Excellent 170?

A close up of the Nilfisk logo
A close up of the Nilfisk logo

These fancy performance figures are meaningless if they don’t translate into solid cleaning abilities. Thankfully the Nilfisk delivers cleaning power in bucketfuls, making it my favourite pressure washer for car cleaning. The Excellent lived up to its namesake when pointed at a mucky car. Power was easily adjustable with the nozzle, providing a solid jet of water that wouldn’t risk damaging anything sensitive like older paintwork.

The real test of a pressure washer’s capabilities for me is the quality of snow foam it can produce. Even with a rather meek sample loaded into the included cannister, the Nilfisk delivered a deliciously thick layer of foam that clung really well to a car. The increased flow rate from the Nilfisk ensures that the foam is as thick as possible, making full use of the foam provided. For this task, it’s hard to find a pressure washer that’ll do a better job. It’s for this reason that the 170 is our pressure washer pick for avid detailers.

The handy guide on the pressure washer helps with what pressure to use
The handy guide on the pressure washer helps with what pressure to use.

Moving beyond the car to other areas ripe for cleaning, the 170 performs just as well. On brickwork and external wood, the Nilfisk effortlessly sweeps away muck; even the most baked-in grime is no match for the. It was here that the rough nozzle also proved its worth.

There’s a kitchen-sink approach with the 170 and most conceivable optional attachments included in the box. Even nicer, there’s a logical and ergonomic place to store all of these attachments. Nilfisk even thought to include a small needle for cleaning blocked nozzles, a very logical inclusion that’ll save you a pretty large headache should the nozzle become clogged after use.

What’s okay?

A static shot of a Nilfisk 170 Excellent
A static shot of a Nilfisk 170 Excellent.

A tiny grumble I have with the foam lance is that it’s basic. As the pictures show, it is immensely capable of lusciously thick snow foam, but compared to a quality aftermarket snow foam lance, it comes up incredibly short. I found the opening for adding foam and water too small and the base too narrow to stand up on reliably its own. There are also no markings for dilution ratios, which would have made preparation so much easier. It’s not a deal breaker in the slightest, but the most dedicated of detailers will probably want to upgrade this accessory.

The hose, too, was a small area of frustration. On the whole, the Steelflex hose is a lot better than the competition, offering a usable and neat hose reel storage system and never becoming tangled. The downside was that the steel reinforcement meant the hose had more resistance than a more conventional option. This is a good trade-off, but it is worth mentioning for an ease-of-use perspective.

Any negatives?

The onboard storage option for the foam canister
The onboard storage option for the foam canister.

The quality of the Nilfisk is undeniable, it’s like it’s been carved from granite. That does mean it also weighs as much as granite. Using an all-metal induction motor, even if it’s aluminium, does push the weight up on the 170. Fully assembled, it weighs in at a scale-busting 21.6kg which makes it a pain to move around. Even with the quality two-spoke wheels attached, I really did have to manhandle it to take directional commands. The telescopic handle doesn’t help with manoeuvrability, instead contributing to the Nilfisk handling like an overstuffed wheeled suitcase.

It’s also important to think about your needs before buying one of these premium pressure washers. If you’re set on getting the absolute best option for car cleaning, it’s tremendous value for money and will outlast almost any other pressure washer on the market. If, however, you’re more interested in light cleaning, then it might be a better idea to look for something with less power and a lower price tag.

Second opinion, Aaron Hussain:

Aaron Hussain tries the snow foam capabilities of the Nilfisk Excellent 170.
Aaron Hussain tries the snow foam capabilities of the Nilfisk Excellent 170.

“Applying snow foam to a car is a fairly therapeutic task for any keen car person. However, the job was made even nicer with the strength and capabilities of the Excellent 170. Because, by its namesake, it was quite excellent. With a comfortable hold and a powerful flow of foam and water, it did the job amazingly well. Perhaps it’s a sign I need to spend more time at the gym, but the thick hose gave me the impression that it was heavier than other pressure washers to move around and pull out the hose. Or more likely, it was the stonking total weight of 21kg that made things trickier than they needed to be.”

More products to consider:

The Nilfisk's main competitor, the Kärcher also offers adjustable power and a better flow rate. Pressure is down, but it's cheaper and ships with a handy patio cleaner too.
A newcomer to the world of pressure washers, AVA offer a world-class 20-year warranty for this pressure washer and a list of the length of your arm of features and innovations.
Yes, the car maker also does pressure washers, and they're quite good too. This petrol example will outperform the Nilfisk, but we'd recommend against unleashing all of that power on a car's paintwork.

Ryan Gilmore is the Deputy Autos and Tools Editor for Parkers, specialising in car cleaning and hand tools. A veteran car cleaner; if it details, waxes or washes, he’ll be on hand to make sure it’s worth your money.

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