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Proper Engine Bay Cleaning

Posted by Derek Sirois on

Engine bay cleaning is an important yet often overlooked aspect of car detailing. Out of sight, out of mind. Seriously, who really shows off their cars guts regularly, right? But the fact is that when it comes to pride in your vehicle, there’s nothing like popping open the hood and showing off that clean and shiny engine compartment. Not only does this help increase your resale value, but it also inspires buyer confidence. Aside from your car’s value being highlighted, a clean engine compartment makes it much easier to spot leaks and other mechanical issues that may be hidden by layers of road grime and dirt buildup

There are a few things to consider when preparing to clean your engine compartment. You’ll want to be sure that you cover up any areas that may not be quite compatible with moisture. This may include:

  • Alternator
  • Coil Packs and wires
  • Diagnostic ports
  • Air intake
  • Headlight Connectors and other misc electrical plugs

Covering up these areas using plastic bags, painter’s tape and rubber bands can help you protect these valuable components. While we do encourage you to err on the side of caution, newer vehicles may not require such measures as they are designed to withstand the nasty and harsh environment the engine compartment faces during your daily drive. Use your judgement and as always, when in doubt, be sure to consult your vehicle’s manufacturer guidelines listed in your user's manual. Here are a few easy steps to a cleaner more appealing engine compartment:

  1. Start your vehicle’s engine and allow it to run for a few minutes. You want your engine to be warm but not so hot that the water and chemicals dry up.
  2. Completely wet your entire engine compartment with a medium pressure hose. You want to knock any large debris loosen and rinse off some of the top layer of grime.
  3. Completely coat your engine's compartment with a strong quality degreaser such as Polishing System’s Super Red Stuff Degreaser. Be sure to use caution around electrical connectors such as battery or alternator terminals and air intakes
  4. Allow the cleaner to sit for 5 to 10 mins allowing the degreasers to work and lift the oil and grime. If you have a lot of buildup from years of driving, you may want to use a rag, scrub brush or wash mitt to help agitate the cleaners.
  5. While you may be tempted to use a high power pressure washer to rinse, just know that you will more than likely get the same results by using a medium pressure hose. This will decrease the chances of damaging delicate engine components with high pressure.
  6. Once you’ve rinsed off all of the degreaser, you may notice that some tighter hard to reach areas may have been neglected. You can simply spot spray and scrub those areas with a small soft non abrasive detail brush.
  7. Once you’ve finished scrubbing and spraying you’ll want to thoroughly dry off all of your engine components. We recommend using a small portable leaf blower, as this will work fairly fast and allow you to cover a larger area.

Now that your engine compartment is squeaky clean and dry. You can really spice it up by applying a dressing that will give you that deep black new plastic look. We recommend something like Polishing System’s Dress-All satin gloss finish.