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Kärcher K4 Classic review: A high-performance pressure washer for less

Our Rating :
£154.99 from
Price when reviewed : £180
inc VAT

The Kärcher K4 Classic gives you the awesome cleaning power, if not all the features, of the K4 Power Control on a lower budget


  • Compact, lightweight body
  • Excellent cleaning performance
  • Choice of Vario Power and Dirt Blaster lances


  • No intensity or pressure control
  • Limited hose and cable management
  • Annoying plastic clips on the high-pressure hose

It’s sometimes hard to make head or tail or Kärcher’s extensive pressure washer range, so think of the K4 Classic as a cheaper variant of the brand’s exceptional K4 Power Control, minus the odd bell and whistle. It shares the K4 Power Control’s 130 bar max pressure and 420l per hour flow rate, but it’s a smaller, simpler unit without the Power Control’s smart storage features. 

What’s more, while you still get two lances to cover a wide range of uses, you have to do without the more expensive model’s Power Control gun. Is this going to be a deal breaker, or is buying the K4 Classic a good way to save a little cash? I’ve had Kärcher’s latest in for testing to find out.

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

I usually think of the K4 line as the sweet spot in Kärcher’s pressure washer line-up. It provides enough power and flow to cope with most jobs, but at a lower cost than the more heavy-duty K5 range. The K4 Classic gives you nearly all the good stuff at a slightly lower price point; you can pick the basic kit up for between £160 and £180, where the Kärcher K4 Power Control will usually cost you in the region of £200 to £240.

You’re still getting a powerful mid-range pressure washer that will handle just about any home or garden task, and it comes with both an adjustable Vario Power spray lance and a Dirt Blaster spray lance for tackling the most stubborn marks and grime.

The main things you miss out on are a clever design that makes it easier to stow the high-pressure hose and cable, metal fittings to connect the hose and – most importantly – the Power Control gun. This allows you to regulate the pressure level, so that you can switch from a relatively light jet or fan of water to the maximum pressure jet.

Finally, while the K4 Power Control has a water-cooled motor, enabling it to keep on blasting away reliably for ages, the K4 Classic doesn’t, although both are rated for cleaning areas up to 30m² in size.

On the plus side, you get a slightly more compact unit that measures 265 x 256 x 450mm (WDH) versus the K4 Power Control’s 306 x 588 x 402mm (WDH). It’s also significantly lighter, at 4.6kg for the main unit instead of 11.5kg. There’s a plastic part to wind the high-pressure hose around for storage at the front, and there are compartments to hold the two lances and trigger unit at the rear.

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Kärcher K4 Classic review: How easy is it to use?

In a way, the lighter weight and lack of options make the K4 Classic easier to use than the K4 Power Control. You don’t even really need the wheels or the pull-out handle to move it around your garden or driveway, though they definitely help.

There’s a little assembly needed before use, as you clip the high-pressure hose into the sockets on the unit and the gun, attach your garden hose to the water intake and attach the wheels. Still, there’s nothing that’s going to take you more than five to ten minutes.

After that, all you need to do is switch it on, pull the trigger and blast away. With the Vario Power lance you can adjust the spray pattern by twisting a ring at the base of the nozzle left or right. And if the jet isn’t fierce enough, you can just switch to the Dirt Blaster lance. The super-powered rotary spray from that should tackle anything the Vario Power lance can’t.

Kärcher K4 Classic review: How well does it clean?

Very effectively. With the Vario Power lance installed, I had no problem removing thick mud and caked–on grime from the bodywork and wheel arches of my compact SUV, or getting rid of hardened seagull droppings from the roof. With the spray focused as a tighter stream, moss and lichen was easily blasted off paving slabs on a garden pathway and patches of the driveway.

There’s little that you can’t handle with the Vario Power lance, but if you do find something particularly tricky, the Dirt Blaster should be able to manage it. In fact, it might be a little too fierce, at one point ripping out a spot of looser tarmac on my driveway, but it also makes short work of clearing paint splatters from a plastic bin.

Like the K4 Power Control, the K4 Classic should be fine for most households with an average-sized garden, and it’s only those with, say, a couple of large, muddy 4x4s, a few mountain bikes and extensive hard landscaping that are going to need something with more welly.

Did I miss the Power Control Gun? Well, there are times when you might want the concentrated power of the Dirt Blaster but with a little less intensity, and the lower settings give you a bit more peace of mind when you’re pointing the spray lance at your car or a paving stone. In general, though, the K4 Classic has things covered, and you can always widen the spray on the Vario Power lance or just move a little backwards if you’re worried about applying too much force.

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Kärcher K4 Classic review: What could be improved?

Not much. As with the smaller K2 Horizontal, I found the clips that hold the high-pressure hose in place on the K4 Classic tricky to click in and even harder to remove, and the plastics used in them don’t feel all that robust. However, the K4 Classic doesn’t suffer from the same short power cable and hose. Here you get a 5m power cable and a 6m high-pressure hose.

Kärcher K4 Classic review: Should I buy it?

The K4 Classic gives you most of the cleaning power of the K4 Power Control in a smaller unit at a lower price, and all you lose is the built-in hose and cable management and the control you get with the Power Control Gun.

If you’re going to spend a lot of time cleaning bikes and cars and tidying up your patio or driveway, then I would say pay the extra for the K4 Power Control. Ditto if you need something to clean decking, softer paving or anything else that might need a little more finesse. However, if you’re just trying to clear dirt, mud and grime quickly, the K4 Classic gives you everything you need for less, making it a great cut-price alternative to Kärcher’s classic pressure washer.

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