Everything You Need to Know About Aaa vs Cat Pressure Washer Pump

Pressure washer pumps utilize an electric motor or gas engine to drive pistons that pressurize the water stream. The faster the pump can move water through the system, the higher the water pressure rating will be. This determines the force and cleaning power.

AAA and CAT both manufacture triplex piston pumps, which use three pistons to generate flow and pressure. Both brands offer pumps in various power levels for light residential use up to heavy-duty industrial cleaning.

When selecting a pump, key factors to consider are:

  • Power – Pressure rating (PSI) and flow rate (GPM)
  • Durability – Materials used and pump life expectancy
  • Noise – Decibel levels during operation
  • Ease of Use – Installation and maintenance
  • Cost – Initial purchase price and long-term value

We’ll now break down how AAA and CAT pumps stack up in each category.

Brand Overviews

First, let’s take a quick look at the history and reputation behind each brand.

AAA Pumps – Founded in 1955, AAA is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and manufactures pumps for various applications like pressure washers, industrial equipment, and more. They have a reputation for good quality, reliability, and competitive pricing. Many residential pressure washers utilize AAA pumps.

CAT Pumps – Established in 1983 and headquartered in Minnesota, CAT engineers professional-grade pumps used by many industrial and commercial cleaning businesses. Their pumps are known for high pressure, durability, and power. CAT tends to be the premium brand.

Now let’s see how their pump models directly compare.

Pump Specifications

The two key technical specs that determine cleaning power are:

  • PSI – The water pressure rating
  • GPM – The flow rate in gallons per minute

Higher numbers mean more cleaning muscle. Here’s how AAA and CAT pumps stack up:

AAA Pumps:

  • Pressure – Up to 3000 PSI
  • Flow Rate – 2.2 – 4 GPM

CAT Pumps:

  • Pressure – Up to 4000 PSI
  • Flow Rate – 2.5 – 4 GPM

CAT pumps achieve higher maximum pressure. But AAA still provides plenty of cleaning power for residential needs. When it comes to flow rate, both brands offer comparable GPM ranges.

Performance and Power

In real world use, both AAA and CAT pumps deliver excellent cleaning performance. Here are some key benefits each brand offers:

AAA Pumps:

  • Powerful pressure for homes and outdoor cleaning
  • Remove stubborn gunk like mud or grease
  • Get driveways, decks looking like new
  • Quickly blast away mildew or paint
  • Clean second story surfaces with pressure washer wands

CAT Pumps:

  • Professional-grade pressure levels
  • Handle the toughest industrial cleaning jobs
  • Remove oil stains on concrete
  • Clean fleets of vehicles quickly
  • Strip paint and graffiti off surfaces
  • Scour away grease and grime

CAT pumps edge out AAA when it comes to max pressure output and cleaning force. But AAA still provides plenty of power for most homeowners.

Durability and Longevity

You want a pump that will last for years of reliable use. Both brands build high-quality pumps, but there are some durability differences:

AAA Pumps:

  • Thermoplastic components prevent wear
  • Stainless steel plungers withstand pressure
  • With care, lasts 3000+ hours before servicing
  • Resists corrosion and minerals in water

CAT Pumps:

  • All brass pump heads and manifolds
  • Ceramic plungers provide long service life
  • Expect 3000 – 5000 hours before replacement
  • Rugged construction stands up to heavy use

CAT and AAA pumps both provide excellent longevity. CAT may edge out AAA for the most demanding, prolonged industrial use. But AAA pumps still deliver years of life with proper maintenance.

Noise Levels

Pressure washers are notoriously loud tools. Pumps that run quieter make for a more pleasant experience:

AAA Pumps:

  • Operate at 80 – 85 decibels on average
  • Similar noise level to a loud vacuum

CAT Pumps:

  • Also reach noise levels around 80 – 84 decibels
  • Some larger models produce over 90 dB of noise

The pumps are comparable in noise output, though the highest pressure CAT models can be slightly louder. If noise is a concern, look for pumps rated at 75 dB or less.

Ease of Use

For homeowners, easier installation and maintenance is preferred:

AAA Pumps:

  • Built with user-friendly features
  • Quick connect power and water fittings
  • Convenient oil drain valves and plugs
  • Basic maintenance can be DIY

CAT Pumps:

  • Designed for commercial serviceability
  • Require some plumbing knowledge to install
  • Maintaining pump fluid levels takes practice
  • Best left to experienced technicians

AAA pumps edge out CAT when it comes to user-friendly designs tailored for homeowners. Quick connects and DIY-friendly maintenance make AAA pumps super convenient.


Some other neat features of each pump brand:

AAA Pumps:

  • Thermal relief valves prevent overheating
  • Multiple inlet options accept hoses or fittings
  • Oil level sight windows for quick checks
  • Lightweight thermoplastic body

CAT Pumps:

  • All metal components and valves
  • Inlet and discharge manifolds included
  • V-Packing seal design prevents leaks
  • Transfer port allows bypass flow

Both offer well-designed pumps, with AAA focusing more on residential ease of use, while CAT emphasizes heavy-duty construction.

Cost Considerations

Let’s look at the pricing and value you can expect:

AAA Pumps:

  • Range from $120 – $300
  • Represent a mid-range price point
  • Great value for homeowners

CAT Pumps:

  • Cost from $250 up to $500+
  • Larger models over $1000
  • Premium pricing but professional-grade quality

For most homeowners, an AAA pump will provide the best value, delivering robust residential performance at a wallet-friendly price. CAT is the undisputed leader for commercial applications, though the pro-level pricing matches the extreme durability.

Conclusion and Recommendation

For homeowners – AAA pumps provide an ideal balance of power, reliability, and affordability. They have excellent cleaning ability for residential needs while holding up well over time.

For industrial/commercial use – CAT pumps are worth the investment. They offer unmatched durability and best-in-class pressure ratings for heavy-duty cleaning.

Other great mid-range options are Generac and Simpson pumps. They provide very solid performance and value at price points similar to AAA models.

The bottom line:

Consider your needs and budget – AAA offers tremendous value for homeowners while CAT is the undisputed professional-grade choice. With the right pump, your pressure washer can deliver years of peak cleaning performance.


  • Lucas

    Hi I am, a passionate and self-sufficient ‘USA’ resident who never depends on others to clean cars, other vehicles, decks, patios, driveways, sidewalks, and the exterior of my house. When I’m not busy always love to research new techniques to improve my cleaning skills and spend time maintaining pressure washers to keep them in top condition.

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