Whenever your engine needs maintenance or repair, it’s easier to do it when the engine bay is clean.
If it’s been a while since the last time you cleaned it, it will potentially take a little time to allow your degreaser to soak through the grime. Engine bays and engines should be cleaned before washing your car. That will ensure you get any degreaser that reaches painted components washed and rinsed off. Additionally, a clean engine will also prevent rust from developing, prolonging its life. Here’s a complete guide on cleaning your car engine.
Remove all debris from the engine bay.
It’s important to remove any grass, leaves, twigs, or other debris before cleaning the engine. It can cause issues with your engine, and even potentially start a fire if left to sit on the electrical system or engine too long. Pine needles and leaves can often build up at the bottom of the windshield and eventually fall into an engine bay. Watch out for small animal nests as the weather cools down.
Disconnect the battery.
Some of the electrical components may arc when spraying water directly into the engine bay, which can blow fuses and cause other damages. The most effective way to prevent this is through loosening the bolt on the negative terminal on your battery and then sliding the ground cable off the terminal. The positive terminal can be disconnected as well to remove and clean your battery outside the engine bay. When leaving the battery in your vehicle, tuck the ground cable to the side, so you prevent it from contacting the terminal.
Cover exposed electronics or wiring.
Components of your car’s electrical system, such as the battery, needs to be properly covered to prevent any damage caused by water while cleaning. While engines are generally waterproof, wrapping plastic offers a higher degree of safety. Cover loose wires, distribution caps, and spark plug inlets. Plastic cling wraps or small plastic bags work well to keep parts protected from the water.
Let the engine run.
You should run your car’s engine for five minutes because it’s easier to get grease removed when it’s heated. Five minutes should be enough time for it to get to normal operating temperatures and get any grime loosened. You don’t want to leave the engine running too long, as you’ll potentially burn yourself when you start to clean it.
Use engine degreaser.
There are a variety of brands of engine degreaser that can be chosen from. Most of them will generally work the same. Spray your degreaser on your engine from the bottom up. That will ensure it gets total coverage. Degreasers usually come in a spray bottle to make spraying it on the engine simple and easy. Be sure to follow the instructions on the degreaser to clean your engine properly.
Avoid spraying on painted components.
You have to be careful not to overspray the degreaser when covering your engine, as it can remove clear coat from paint on fenders and other areas of your car. If you happen to get a degreaser on any painted area of your car, you should rinse it off as quickly as possible to prevent damage to the paint.
Let degreaser soak.
Degreaser is designed to deteriorate the grime on the engine. The amount of time it takes depends on how dirty your engine is. Three minutes is a good enough time to loosen oil and grease on engines that are just a little dirty. For engines that are significantly dirty, let the degreaser soak for five minutes before you rinse it. If the degreaser you have has a different amount of time specified, follow those instructions.
Scrub with a stiff-bristled brush.
Use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub away the large deposits of burned oil, grease, or grime. It should be able to break loose easily. Be sure to wear eye protection when scrubbing the engine, so the degreaser doesn’t get into your eye. You can also wear gloves, so you prevent prolonged contact with the degreaser on your skin. The engine needs to be scrubbed only if there are unusually large deposits of grime that’s stuck.
Rinse engine with a hose.
You should avoid using a high-pressure hose to rinse your engine because it could disconnect wires or penetrate the plastic you’re using to cover the electronics. Have the nozzle on the garden hose set to stream. It will be sufficient enough to rinse your engine effectively. If the engine still looks dirty, reapply your degreaser and let it sit for a few more minutes.
Use a wire brush on battery terminals.
Battery terminals will usually corrode over time, and it can lead to some issues with your car’s electrical system. Remove the cables of the battery and scrub the terminals with your wire brush until they’re clean. You can also soak the ends of your battery cables in CLR, or another anti-corrosion chemical to ensure a strong electrical connection.
Use water and baking soda for battery acid.
If your car battery has corrosion caused by leaking battery acid, you can use baking soda and water to neutralize it as you’re cleaning. Pour the baking soda into a bucket of water and mix the solution thoroughly. Dip your brush into the mixture, and scrub the battery terminals and any other areas where acid may have leaked.
Clean plastic parts with a sponge and bristled brush.
It might be difficult to scrub clean plastic parts of your engine, such as reservoir caps and engine covers. Start by using your brush with either degreaser or car wash soap. After the grime is removed, use your sponge with car wash soap to get the last parts of the grime off before rinsing it with water.
Cleaning your engine is an essential part of prolonging its life. Be sure to carefully follow these tips when you’re caring for your engine. In some cases, you might need to input new parts, such as a Roosa Master injection pump, to get your car functioning right.