Best Car Detailing Vacuums Under $150 – For Every Budget

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best car shop vac

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a quality and durable vacuum for car detailing. I’ve tried dozens of vacuums and decided to share the seven best vacuums for car detailing, all being under $150, so they’re budget-friendly.

My Top Picks:

Editor's Pick
RIDGID 62703 RT1200 NXT 12-Gal. Wet Dry Shop Vacuum with Casters, 5.0 Peak HP Motor, and Pro Locking...
Best Budget
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
Best Small Vac
RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000 Portable Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner for Car, Garage or In-Home Use,...
RIDGID 62703 RT1200 NXT 12-Gal. Wet Dry Shop Vacuum with Casters, 5.0 Peak HP Motor, and Pro Locking...
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000 Portable Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner for Car, Garage or In-Home Use,...
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Editor's Pick
RIDGID 62703 RT1200 NXT 12-Gal. Wet Dry Shop Vacuum with Casters, 5.0 Peak HP Motor, and Pro Locking...
RIDGID 62703 RT1200 NXT 12-Gal. Wet Dry Shop Vacuum with Casters, 5.0 Peak HP Motor, and Pro Locking...
-
Best Budget
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
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Best Small Vac
RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000 Portable Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner for Car, Garage or In-Home Use,...
RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000 Portable Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner for Car, Garage or In-Home Use,...

Best Wet and Dry Vacuums For Cars – TOP 7 

Finally, here’s my list of the best auto detailing vacuums that cost less than $100. They are cheap, affordable, but at the same time – high-quality.

1. Ridgid ShopVac 12 Gal. 5.0 Peak HP NXT – MY RECOMMENDATION

RIDGID 62703 RT1200 NXT 12-Gal. Wet Dry Shop Vacuum with Casters, 5.0 Peak HP Motor, and Pro Locking...

NXT is the most potent line of vacs that RIDGID company is making. In my opinion, this shop vac is the number 1 choice since it can handle any detailing task.

It has a 12-gallon tank and a 5 HP motor (peak power) – that’s going to be more than enough, especially the tank size. With that tank size, you can easily do 5-10 cars without emptying the tank.

The cord length of 15ft and hose (2 1/2″) length of 7ft helps you easily vacuum your car without moving the vacuum every 30 seconds. 

With 144 CFM (airflow rating) power, this is the most powerful vacuum on this list. That suction power is enough to pick up all of the dirt from the car carpets and seats.

You’ll get a hose, two extension wands, a utility nozzle, a wet nozzle, a car nozzle, and a standard filter in the package. I think that’s fair enough to vacuum your car.

When it comes to filters, you can use replacement filters: Fine Dust (VF5000), HEPA Media (VF6000), and Wet Filter (VF7000).

Basic Information Recap:

  • Tank size: 12 gal
  • Peak Power: 5HP
  • CFM: 144
  • Cord Length: 15ft
  • Hose diameter: 2 1/2″
  • Hose length: 7ft

PROS

  • Very high suction power
  • Excellent ratings on Amazon
  • Full lifetime warranty against material defects and workmanship
  • Built-in drain

CONS

  • Some people suggest replacing the casters (wheels)

2. STANLEY Wet/Dry Vacuum SL18116P 6 Gallon

Sale
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
Amazon Prime

Stanley is a reputable company, and they make excellent products for all kinds of jobs and tasks. Their vacuums are excellent, especially this SL1816P wet and dry vacuum.

Even better, this vacuum has the option to become a blower, which is also preferable in some situations.

Stanley SL18116P is a 6-gallon shop vac with 4 HP (peak power) and 75 CFM of airflow. It’s not the most powerful vacuum out there, but it’ll handle any detailing task.

With swiveling casters installed, it’s easy to move this vacuum in any direction. However, when you need to carry it, there’s a solid handle to make it easier.

To organize all the tools and attachments, you can use an excellent accessory holder built into this device.

The power cord is 10ft long, and the vacuum hose (1-1/4″) is 6ft long. That should be enough for every car detailer out there.

In the package, you’ll get a vacuum hose, extension wands, gulper nozzle, floor nozzle, crevice nozzle, foam filter, dust bag, and reusable dry filter. Also, this device comes with a 12-month warranty.

Basic Information Recap:

  • Tank size: 6 gal
  • Peak Power: 4HP
  • CFM: 75
  • Cord Length: 10ft
  • Hose diameter: 1-1/4″
  • Hose length: 6ft

PROS

  • High build quality
  • Great accessories
  • 1-year warranty
  • Great reviews
  • Blower option

CONS

  • Not the best liquid suction power (it’s suitable for spills, but not for a lot of liquid)
  • No drain

3. Vacmaster VQ607SFD 6 Gallon

Vacmaster, VQ607SFD, 6 Gallon 3 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
Amazon Prime

Vacmaster VQ607SFD is a stainless steel wet and dry vacuum that’s very affordable but has excellent build quality.

It has a 6-gallon capacity tank, 3HP motor, and suction power of 69CFM. Even though this engine has only 3 HP peak power, it still has excellent CFM, and that’s more than enough for vacuuming your car carpets, upholstery, etc.

The hose (1-1/4″) length is 7ft, while the power cord length is 12ft. Together, that’s 19ft reach from the power plug in your garage, house, shop, or your generator.

This vac can also be a blower – it’s a great option to remove debris from your garage. Even though you might not use it, it’s good to have it if you ever need it.

Together with the vac, you’ll get the following: hose, two extension wands, cartridge filter, dust bag, reusable foam sleeve, floor nozzle, utility nozzle, crevice tool, and the round dust brush.

I like that round dust brush a lot – I have a similar attachment for my vacuum, and it’s excellent for vacuuming car dashboards and other instruments to clean most of the dust before attempting to clean it with an APC.

Basic Information Recap:

  • Tank size: 6 gal
  • Peak Power: 3HP
  • CFM: 69
  • Cord Length: 12ft
  • Hose diameter: 1-1/4″
  • Hose length: 7ft

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Air blowing option
  • Great accessories
  • Two years limited warranty

CONS

  • Some people complain about stainless steel quality.

4. CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17590 9 Gallon

Sale
CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17590 9 Gallon 4.25 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac, General Purpose Portable Shop Vacuum with...
Amazon Prime

Craftsman is a reputable company with many happy customers, and their vacuums are great for that price range.

This great wet and dry vacuum has a 9-gallon tank, which is more than enough for vacuuming even bigger cars without emptying the tank.

It also has a blower option so that you can blow debris out of your garage, driveway, or sidewalk. I like this option, and I think it’s an excellent feature for any shop vac.

The peak power of this shop vac is 4.25HP, and the CFM is 71.1. With that said, this shop vac is powerful enough for any detailing task.

The drain at the bottom of the vacuum is excellent if you need to empty the tank quickly. This is especially important if you’re vacuuming some spills. You can empty the tank in less than 10 seconds and continue with your job.

The hose (1-7/8 IN) length is 7 ft, and the power cord length is 10ft. The power cord could be a bit longer, but it’s enough.

Together with the vac, you’ll also get a hose, two extension wands, a car nozzle, a utility nozzle, and a wet nozzle. Also, this vacuum has a cartridge filter and a dust bag.

Basic Information Recap:

  • Tank size: 9 gal
  • Peak Power: 4.25 HP
  • CFM: 71.1
  • Cord Length: 10ft
  • Hose diameter: 1-7/8″
  • Hose length: 7ft

PROS

  • Oversized drain
  • Blower option
  • Easy filter replacement

CONS

  • Not the best locking mechanism

5. RIDGID VAC3000 Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner 3 Gallon

RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000 Portable Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner for Car, Garage or In-Home Use,...

If you’re looking for a lightweight, portable vacuum cleaner that has enough power to vacuum your car, this might be a good choice for you.

It’s more potent than some other vacuums that are twice as large as this Rigid vacuum. Even though it’s very light and portable, it still has excellent features and more than enough power to vacuum your car.

The power of the motor is 3.5 HP, while the measured CFM is 66. The tank size is 3 gallons which is excellent for you if you’re a weekend warrior and occasionally vacuum your car.

The Integrated LED light on the car nozzle is just excellent. It helps you to see if there’s still any dirt, especially in some darker spaces, such as underneath the seats.

Expanding hose is another great feature. Usually, it’s 2ft long, but you can expand it up to 7ft. The power cord is 10ft long. It’s not the longest cord out there, but since it’s a very light and portable vacuum, it’s enough.

Basic Information Recap:

  • Tank size: 3 gal
  • Peak Power: 3.5 HP
  • CFM: 66
  • Cord Length: 10ft
  • Hose diameter: 1-7/8″
  • Hose length: up to 7ft

PROS

  • Very lightweight and portable
  • LED light on car nozzle

CONS

  • The filter could be smaller, so there’s more space for a dust bag

6. Stanley SL18910P-3 3 Gallon 

Sale
Stanley SL18910P-3 Wet/Dry, 3 Gallon, 3 Horsepower, Portable Car Vacuum, 3.0 HP AC, Black+Yellow
Amazon Prime

Another 3-gallon wet and dry vacuum you can get for your car. Stanley is also a reputable brand that has high-quality products. It’s cheaper than the Rigid one, so if you’re on a very tight budget, this might be your choice.

It has a peak power of 3 HP and an airflow of 80 CFM. Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised with such excellent airflow. It’s the highest airflow in the tiny wet and dry vacuums category.

It has 2 in 1 function for both dry and wet vacuuming at the same time. This is a fantastic feature that can be beneficial for vacuuming the car.

It has a 4ft hose and 6ft power cord. In my opinion, they should make it bigger. However, taking into account that this is a tiny device, it’s still not bad.

With this vacuum, you also get 3 in 1 crevice nozzle. I have that at home, and I don’t like it. My advice is to purchase separate attachments for each task.

Basic Information Recap:

  • Tank size: 3 gal
  • Peak Power: 3 HP
  • CFM: 80
  • Cord Length: 6ft
  • Hose diameter: 1-1/4″
  • Hose length: 4ft

PROS

  • You can vacuum both dry and wet dirt at the same time
  • Very high CFM

CONS

  • Short power cord and a hose
  • 3 in 1 crevice nozzle  isn’t the best

7. Armor All AA255 2.5 Gallon 

Sale
Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum , Orange
Amazon Prime

Armor All is an auto detailing budget-friendly brand. If you’re on a tight budget and very tight with the space in your garage or a house, this is probably the best choice for you. Of course, if you need something for more professional work, you should stick to some more giant vacuums.

This vacuum was made for cars. It has plenty of features that you need when vacuuming cars and other vehicles. If you’re a weekend detailer, this vacuum is a great tool to have.

It has a 2.5-gallon tank, 2 HP (peak power) motor, and the airflow is 53 CFM. In my opinion, CFM should be higher, but it’s going to be enough for maintenance vacuuming of your car.

The power cord is 10ft long, and the hose is 6ft long. Also, you’ll get some excellent attachments with this device: a 2-in-1 utility nozzle, crevice tool, deluxe car nozzle, blower nozzle, and detail brush.

Basic Information Recap:

  • Tank size: 2.5 gal
  • Peak Power: 2 HP
  • CFM: 53
  • Cord Length: 10ft
  • Hose diameter: 1-1/4″
  • Hose length: 6ft

PROS

  • Great for maintenance vacuuming
  • Very light and portable
  • Excellent attachments and vac organization

CONS

  • CFM isn’t enough for tougher jobs

Buyer’s Guide On How To Choose The Right Car Vacuum

I don’t want you to make mistakes and buy the wrong vacuum for your car. All of the vacuums on this list are great, but it depends on your needs which one you should buy.

Before buying a shop vac for your car, check the following:

Tank Size (Capacity)

  • Before you check the rest of the features, you should first think about the tank’s size. If you’re always in a rush and don’t have time to empty the tanks all the time, I suggest you choose a shop vac with a larger tank.
  • A 5-10 gallon tank will be enough for most of you out there. However, if you’re tight with the space in your garage, you could buy an even smaller shop vac. It’ll still be enough for maintenance and cleaning of your car.

Motor Power (HP)

  • The more powerful the motor is, the better. If you choose the more powerful engine, you’ll have more suction power. This can help you to do vacuuming jobs quicker and get better results.
  • If you need a shop vac for more challenging cleaning jobs, make sure to choose a vacuum with at least 4 HP motor peak power.
  • However, if you need a shop vac for occasional cleanings, something with 2.5-3 HP will be enough.

Airflow (CFM)

  • CFM means cubic feet per minute. It shows the volume of air moved through the vacuum in one minute. 
  • The higher the CFM is, the more suction power you’ll get. In my opinion, anything above 60CFM is enough for detailing tasks.
  • If you need some mighty device, aim for 100CFM or more (number 1. on this list is the most powerful with a CFM of 144).
  • If the vacuum has a high CFM, you could also turn it into an extractor for some smaller jobs.

Blowing Option

  • If you need a vacuum that also has an option to blow air, make sure to check that before making the purchase. It’s a great feature, and you can use it to blow out the debris from your garage after cleaning the car.
  • There are a few vacuums in this list with this option, so make sure to check them out.

Attachments and Hose Diameter

  • When you’re choosing your vacuum, make sure to check which attachments you get with the vacuum. Most of the vacuums will have necessary attachments, but you should check them.
  • If you need some additional attachments, make sure to order them together with the vac.
  • However, to order the right attachments, you should also check the hose diameter. With some vacs, you’ll need an adapter for various attachments because of the different hose diameters.
  • The most used hose diameter is 1-1/4 “.

Range of Power Cord and a Hose

  • If you have plenty of power plugs in your garage and yard, you don’t have to worry about it. However, it’s always good to have a vacuum with more range.
  • Most vacuums will have a power cord of around 10ft and a hose that’s about 5ft long. This is going to be enough for most of the detailers.

Warranty

  • It’s well known that manufacturers produced much better and more quality products 10 or 20 years ago. Today, many people complain about the quality of the products.
  • Because of that, you should always check the warranty of your desired car vacuum. I wouldn’t buy any product that doesn’t have at least one year warranty.

Brand

  • I’m not the kind of person who just buys “popular” brands. I don’t like to overpay anything. However, using a reputable and well-known brand is better, not because of quality but because of replacement parts. If something breaks, it’s much easier to find replacement parts for famous brands.

Safety Functions

  • If you plan to vacuum a lot of water and other liquids, ensure that the vacuum has an automatic power-off feature. It will turn the vacuum off before the water gets into the motor and ruin it.

Conclusion

I hope that by now, you already know which auto detailing vacuum you’ll buy. I deeply researched the market, and these 7 are the best wet and dry vacuums you can get for less than $100 in 2023. If I find an even better vacuum, I’ll update this list as soon as possible.

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