Spick and Span for Your Car’s Engine


Most people operate with the general understanding that they need to get their car washed regularly in order to keep the exterior looking nice. Not only that, but regular car washes help maintain your car’s paint job. Now, if the outside of your car looks great, so should the inside. As much as it may look brand new, a dirty engine can make your car run like an antique. Never fear! You can actually clean your own car’s engine, as long as you don’t mind getting a little dirty. It really isn’t as difficult as it may seem…

First Things First

You can’t just jump in and hose down your engine. That could be quite dangerous, in fact (think exposed wires). First, you will need to clear out as much of the debris as possible. Thing like leaves and twigs can get stuck in the grill, hood (especially around the seams), and vents. An air compressor is ideal to use as it will just blow away the debris, but it’s not something in most people’s garages. No air compressor? No worries! A small brush will do.

Remember what we said about hosing down your engine being dangerous? Well, here’s why… sensors, exposed wiring, distributor, spark plug openings. These cannot be exposed to water without some kind of protection. Your engine is more or less waterproof already (think rain), but wrapping the sensors and such in plastic will ensure it.

Next Up…

This is a simple one… start your engine and let it run for about 10 minutes. The accumulated grease and oil stuck on the engine will loosen up, and degreasers work much better with a warm engine. Speaking of which…

Getting rid of the gunk built up in your engine requires a degreasing product. While petroleum based degreasers are efficient, they can also degrade rubber hoses and seals. You should get something with a gentler touch, something water or even citrus-based. It’s best to apply a degreaser from the bottom up. Otherwise, it can drip down on you as you work. Please take care as the degreaser can remove the wax from your fenders. Spray carefully, and hose down your fenders, grill, and hood afterward.

How Bad is It?

Now, if your engine is basically clean, just let the degreaser sit for 3-5 minutes. If there is a lot of build up in your engine, you may need to take a parts brush to break up the gunk. A little car washing solution can help. Actually, if I’m being totally honest here, Dawn (as in dishwash soap) works pretty darn well. It is a degreaser itself, so it can help you get those heavily soiled spots loosened up. Just don’t use too much. Your car’s engine will turn into a bubble bath when you hose it down.

Last, but not Least…

Hose that puppy down! There is no need to use a high pressure hose as that can knock things loose. A regular garden hose will do, with light to moderate water pressure. After hosing down your engine, you can let it dry on its own for a bit, but make sure to wipe off the remaining moisture with a microfiber towel. A warm or hot engine will dry itself relatively quickly, but it will spot (kind of like what happens to the exterior when the sprinklers come on and you let it air dry). Don’t forget your before and after pictures…

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