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Kärcher K4 Power Control review: The next generation of cleaning machines

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
199
inc VAT

A minor upgrade, but still a great mid-range pressure washer

Pros 
Powerful and versatile
Excellent controls
Effective spray lance
Cons 
Assembly instructions could be clearer
No massive upgrades on the previous K4
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When it comes to cleaning the car, hosing down the patio or washing all the burnt on grease from your barbeque and grill, there are some outdoor jobs that become so much easier when you can tackle them with a pressure washer.

For the last few years, Kärcher’s K4 Full Control has been one of the best, giving you a great blend of cleaning power, convenience and real control for just under £200. Well, now Kärcher has returned with a new generation of pressure washers, including an update for its award-winning hero product.

To be honest, the differences are pretty minor, but the K4 Power Control is a perfectly capable replacement for its predecessor, and still the best option in terms of price and performance within Kärcher’s pressure washer range.

Kärcher K4 Power Control review: What do you get for the money?

The K4 Power Control is one of Kärcher’s more powerful pressure washers, with a 1,800W water-cooled motor capable of putting out a maximum 420 litres per hour at a maximum pressure of 130 bar.

Yet its real selling points are its G160Q Power Control gun and its Vario Power Spray Lance. When the spray lance is inserted and you squeeze the trigger, the LED-backlit indicators on the gun light up to show the current pressure level, which runs from Soft (suitable for cleaning wood, sandstone or, say, a bicycle) to Hard (for cleaning concrete, hard stonework, tarmac, metal surfaces and more). There’s also a Mix setting for when you need to mix detergent or snow foam concentrate to give your car or patio a thorough clean.

You can adjust the pressure and the spray pattern by twisting the Vario Power Spray Lance until the display hits the desired level. This means you can get most cleaning jobs done with just the single spray lance, although Kärcher still bundles in a harder rotating jet nozzle you can use to blast any really stubborn grime (or the slightly loose tarmac off your driveway if you’re stupid enough to try it without adjusting the pressure level first. This absolutely did not happen to me.)

As anyone who’s ever tried to buy a Kärcher pressure washer knows, the manufacturer loves to release its products in a range of different bundles, so as well as the barebones bundle with just the two lances, you can have the K4 Power Control in a Home version (roughly £240) that throws in some detergent and the T5 Surface Cleaner (more on this later), or a Car and Home variant (around £320) that adds a rotating car brush and a snow foam/shampoo nozzle on top.

You don’t necessarily need these extras but if you want them it’s cheaper to buy the bundles than to purchase the accessories separately.

READ NEXT: The best car shampoo to buy

Kärcher K4 Power Control review: How easy is it to use?

The hardest thing about getting the K4 Power Control up and running is putting it together in the first place, as you’ll need to attach the wheels, several add-on sections and a handle, before threading the high-pressure hose through from the back of the unit to the front.

The instructions aren’t that clear and there are quite a few screws involved. Once you’ve assembled it and connected it to the water supply via a standard connector, however, it’s simply a question of plugging the hose into the gun, attaching the lance and pulling the trigger.

The Vario Power Spray Lance and Power Control Gun work exactly as promised, making it easy to change the pressure and adjust the pattern without needing to fiddle with the unit or stop to plug in a different accessory. I barely needed to reach for the secondary Dirt Blaster lance.

The Power Control has a little more hose to work with than the older model (8m instead of 6m) and, while the hose is a little on the inflexible and awkward side, you can coil it around a retainer at the back of the unit when you’re wheeling or carrying it around. Extra points for the pull-out handle, too.

Kärcher K4 Power Control review: How well does it clean?

The cleaning is fantastic. I used the K4 Power Control to apply snow foam to my car, rinse it off, scour moss and dirt from a tarmac driveway and clean areas of hard concrete and decking in the garden. At every stage it came up trumps, delivering a fierce jet when I needed raw force and a gentler spray that cleared the foam without damaging the paintwork. Concrete steps that were fairly filthy cleaned up better than they have in years, even without any added detergent.

I also tried the car brush on the car and the T5 Cleaner (pictured above) on paving slabs, steps and tarmac and the latter, in particular, was helpful. One downside with using a pressure washer is that you’ll often get splashback from hard surfaces, covering your trouser legs (or actual legs) with a splattering of dirt, moss, algae and goodness knows what else. The T5 cleaner stops that while also doing an efficient job of cleaning large, flat surfaces, which makes it a winner in my book.

READ NEXT: The best snow foam to buy

Kärcher K4 Power Control review: What could be improved?

The LCD panel and digital controls of the K5 Smart Premium are even better than the K4 Power Control’s and I’d say the same for its 3-in-1 multi-jet lance.

However, these come with a higher price tag and with some app-enabled smart features that I’m not entirely sold on. Overall, I think the K4 Power Control hits a better balance of features, power and affordability than its more expensive sibling.

Kärcher K4 Power Control review: Should I buy it?

If you need a lot of cleaning power then yes. Those with smaller gardens and limited hard surfaces to clean could probably get away with a smaller budget pressure washer, like Kärcher’s K2 Compact or the lovable Halfords PW20.

However, if you have a good-sized patio and driveway, or a frequently muddy motor, then you’ll be pleased you paid extra for a more powerful and versatile model. This one gives you everything you need without blowing up your budget, making it the best pressure washer for most people.

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