What’s best for Your Pressure Washer: Direct vs Belt Drive Pumps?

Direct Drive vs Belt Drive Pressure Washer Pump

Pressure washer pumps are driven two ways: direct and belt driven. So what’s the difference? Which is best for your cleaning needs? We break it down!

Alkota has some pressure washer lines that offer both options, such as the 445CHS Challenger Cold Water Series. Having a choice of direct drive or belt drive for your pump may raise some questions for you. What are the pros and cons? We’ve broken down some of the pros and cons of each below to help you make an informed decision.

The Main Difference

The main difference between a direct drive pump and a belt drive pump when used on a pressure washer lies in how the pump is connected to the motor, hence the name.

A direct drive pump is connected directly to the motor or engine. The motor and pump share the same drive shaft.

Belt drive pumps are connected to the motor with a belt and pulley design.

belt-drive-pressure-washer-pumpBelt Drive Pump Pros and Cons

Let’s start with the pros:

  • Belt drives run the pump at slower RPMs and can be quieter at higher RPMs
  • Belt drives allow for variable motor RPMs
  • Belt drive units run cooler – and heat from the pump will not transfer to the motor and vice versa.
  • Easier to prime the pump with lower RPM pumps
  • Give a point for if a motor or pump seizes up

Some cons:

  • Belt drive units tend to cost more upfront
  • More moving parts means more maintenance items
  • A broken belt can shut you down

direct-drive-pressure-washer-pumpDirect Drive Pump Pros and Cons

Direct drive pump pros:

  • Fewer moving parts and no belts mean less maintenance.
  • Direct-drive units are typically less expensive
  • Machines with direct drive pumps usually have a smaller footprint and can be more compact

Direct drive cons:

  • Typically, noisier at higher RPMs
  • Limited motor and pump speed options
  • Depending on the design, the keyway, and key can be a high wear point and are more expensive to fix
  • Direct drive units allow heat transfer between the motor and pump, so both can run hotter.
  • Pump priming can be more difficult with higher RPM pumps.


Water Supply: A belt drive can make priming your pump easier and quicker if you have variable water supply situations.

Machine Noise: The direct drive units can be noisy at high RPMs. If you want a bit quieter machine, consider a belt drive.

Cost Upfront: If you’re on a budget, getting into a direct drive can be more economical.

Machine Size: Machines with direct drive pumps tend to have smaller footprints and be more compact.

We hope this brief guide is useful as you explore your pressure washer options. Call us if you have questions or want to talk to a pressure washer expert. We’d be happy to help.

More about Alkota

Alkota has been delivering custom-designed and built hot water pressure washers since 1964. One of our key mottos is “keep it simple stupid,” or “KISS” for short. Giving our customers easy-to-maintain and repair pressure washers is something we take very seriously.

Share This Article

You Might Also Like

Request a Quote

Complete the form below to request a quote.