Stuff We Use: Why Should You Use a Foam Cannon?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we use and have purchased with our own meager income. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.


Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, most gearheads can be convinced that a clean car runs better. Logically, we know it does not – but since when did logic ever figure into automotive decisions?


This specific foam cannon is your author’s go-to choice when washing his Dodge Challenger or whatever press car is taking up residence in his driveway that particular week. Yes, dear reader, unlike American colleagues, those of us toiling in automotive journalism north of the border are expected to return their cars spotless and full of fuel. Still, a great gig if you can get it, of course – but I tend to wryly bring this up every time our fancy-pants Managing Editor kvetches about an inconvenient car swap.*


*There's a lot I like about Canada, but sometimes being a Yank has its perks -- Ed.


Back to the matter at hand. This foam cannon has served me well for over a year, frequently used yet exhibiting no cracks or damage despite its rock-bottom price of not much more than a couple of Big Mac meals. The red nozzle is easily adjusted with one finger, changing the foam pattern from a narrow stream to a wide fan. The top dial can be twirled on the fly to change the mixture’s thickness as needed. It features sturdy metal fittings on top of the unit that have never leaked or caused connection problems when used with my gas-powered pressure washer.


No matter which foam cannon you choose, it’ll completely change the way you wash your car. These things act as a way to supercharge the suds, covering your whip in what looks like a thick layer of shaving cream. It’s a great effect to behold, making the neighbors think you know exactly what you’re doing - even if this is the first time you’ve fired up a pressure washer.


And, yes, you’ll need a pressure washer to get the most out of a foam cannon. It mixes your favorite automotive soap, water, and air to create the solution which is blasted out of the nozzle and onto yer car. That process happens in the cannon’s canister, which is why that part of the unit measures approximately 32 fluid ounces. Once the foamy mixture is created, the cannon launches it in a thick stream onto your car, where it will attack and dislodge road grime. Note well: most pros let the foam sit on the car for a couple of minutes - but not in direct sunlight - which gives the stuff a fighting chance of properly loosening up dirt before you wash it away with clear water. From experience, we suggest making sure the foam cannon is properly and securely attached to the pressure washer’s quick connect lest the force of water send it flying and turn it into a projectile.


There are differing schools of thought regarding the size of a foam cannon’s neck; some users prefer the pencil-thin variants while others like the wide-mouth designs such as the one shown here. I’m in the latter camp, since the large opening permits easy premixing of suds and hot water to help prime the thing before letting fly with soap at yer car. Speaking of, the Mr. Pink car washing soap from the well-known brand Chemical Guys is a preferred product in this neck of the woods.


One caveat about the foam cannon I use relates to its metal connector points. While they are welcomed in terms of quality, they also increase weight significantly compared to plastic. This is a trade-off I’m willing to make, simply adjusting my grip on the pressure washer wand in order to support its mass instead of leaving it hanging at the end of the lance like a heavy millstone.


Speaking of Chemical Guys (CG), we also have familiarity with this foam cannon bearing the label of that brand. It is claimed every aspect of the typical foam cannon was “supersized” during the design of this thing, with a 2-inch head providing lots of suds and an easy grip. CG suggests the shape of its product whips the air and foam into a frenzy, creating a very thick and fluffy foam. From first-hand experience, we can confidently say this cannon does produce better soap coverage than the cannon yer author uses, but keep in mind the Chemical Guys product is over four times as expensive. Is it four times better? We’re not so sure. Its canister bottle is of equal size and while CG touts the clear see-through nature of its canister, the frosted white bottle on our cheaper model seems to work just fine. Those who are of the opinion a thin neck is better on a foam cannon, check out this unit available on Amazon.


See? Told ya this series would focus on items we’ve actually used. Now, get to cleaning.

[Image: pierpaoloperri/Shutterstock.com]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

More by Tim Healey

Comments
Join the conversation
3 of 26 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jun 01, 2023

    Tim, once all this foam is everywhere, how do you get rid of it? Does it take a while to break down? I think of the scene in the 1963 James Garner / Doris Day film "The Thrill Of It All", where boxes of soap end up in the swimming pool, creating mountains of foam.


    The Thrill of It All (1963) - IMDb




    • Keith_93 Keith_93 on Jun 03, 2023

      It naturally breaks down on your driveway in about 20 minutes, turning into kale. Just pick up the kale leaves and enjoy a delicious vegan meal, while admiring your spotless vehicle.


  • Jeanbaptiste Jeanbaptiste on Jun 02, 2023

    Call me lazy but pulling out, hooking up and then emptying out and putting away a pressure washer is a lot of work for just a car wash. While it looks cool, I don’t think I’m saving any time using one once I figure in all the setup



    While I’m at it. Using my hose link setup is a dream for washing my car. Takes away all the work of having to roll the hose back up. Y’all should do a review on that.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
Next