13 Useful Tips for Cleaning a Car Engine

The engine compartment is one of the most neglected parts of the vehicle in terms of maintenance. Cleaning the engine and doing proper care do not have to favor the durability of the component itself, but they do influence on the useful life of many of its parts, especially those whose materials are susceptible to aging or damage due to the adverse effects of the passage of time: Time, dirt, accumulated residue and weather conditions.

Whether or not to clean the engine has always been a matter of debate among professionals in the automotive sector. On the one hand, there is the opinion that cleaning the engine compartment is essential; on the other, that it is not recommended because it can cause damage to its components.

The reality is that it will depend on how it is done. We highly recommend that, unless you have the necessary experience, let a professional engine cleaning service company do the job, as doing it yourself will increase the risk of breaking anything. But if you feel you can do it, please see below some tips on how to clean your car engine while doing it the right way.

When cleaning a car engine keep in mind that it is an essential element for the vehicle, full of small and complex parts and components that can be affected by water and other liquids.

Therefore, when cleaning an engine, it is important to always take into account a series of precautions, especially these:

  • Have a suitable environment. A place that has a sewage treatment system is required, as different liquids are to be discharged. In the same way, the space for cleaning the motor must be as ventilated as possible and free of excessive humidity to avoid any type of contamination.
  • Place the vehicle in a horizontal and elevated position so you can access the underside of the engine, which is the part where the most dirt tends to accumulate.
  • Cover with plastic or specific protectors those elements that are more fragile or susceptible to being damaged, such as the front bumper, the hood or the front wings.
  • Remove surface dirt, leaves, dust, sand, etc. with a compressed air blower, brush or vacuum cleaner.
  • Unplug the battery terminals and protect it from moisture and debris, especially delicate or moisture-sensitive areas. If contact cleaning is necessary, specific products should always be used.
  • Do not apply pressurized water directly on the most sensitive parts of the engine and avoid, as far as possible, that the liquid penetrates into bushings, plugs, electrical connections, spark plugs, alternator, alarms, fuses, sensors, etc. If they get wet, dry them immediately.

At this point it should be noted that, in the case of old engines, it is advisable to avoid wet cleaning whenever possible, since their materials are not as prepared for contact with water and could suffer serious damage.

  • Special attention should be paid to bonnet blankets, as if they are overwatered or not dried properly, they can sag and deteriorate prematurely.
  • Do not clean the engine when it is still hot as this could cause thermal shock by applying cold water to it. A strong contrast in temperature in the engine could cause material aberrations that could lead to future cracks.
  • Use the appropriate engine cleaner in each case or for each piece, as well as having the necessary equipment (brushes, water gun or material to protect sensitive parts).
  • If degreasers or similar products are used the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding quantities, mixtures and application method must always be taken into account.
  • Once you have finished cleaning the motor, dry it with compressed air, rags or in the open air to ensure that there are no traces of moisture. When most of the moisture has been removed, it is recommended to leave the car idling for a few minutes so that the rest evaporates.
  • It is advisable to nourish each of the plastic or rubber parts to increase the durability of the pieces using a plastic rejuvenator.
  • Do not forget to lubricate certain components that may have lost lubrication, such as hinges, locks, hood mechanisms, etc.
Tristram Shandy