There are some good reasons why you should clean the engine compartment of your vehicle periodically. For one thing, it makes it easier to see fluid leaks and worn belts, prevents rust, and makes a great impression if you are selling your car.
It also makes working on your car’s engine less of a chore because you don’t get as messy. You’ll notice when take your car to a garage that the mechanics tend to be more meticulous and precise when working on a clean engine.
A few precautions- Always wear good eye protection when using chemical cleaning agents like engine degreasers. You absolutely must disconnect your vehicle’s negative battery cable before beginning any cleaning work on the engine and/or electrical system. Please also refer to your vehicle’s service manual for any cleaning instructions or precautions that may specifically apply to your particular engine.
Step One- Before you begin the cleaning, start the engine, let it warm up for a few minutes then shut it off, in order to soften up collected grease and grit in your engine compartment. The correct cleaning temperature for the engine to be is warm but not hot- you should be able to hold your hand to the engine without burning it.
Before cleaning the engine with water, it’s imperative to cover electrical and mechanical components beneath the hood to protect them from water damage. The air intake/air filter, the distributor, the coil and the oil dipstick/breather should be covered using plastic baggies sealed with rubber bands It’s a good idea to also check the tightness of the oil filler cap, power steering filler cap, windshield washer fluid cap, oil dip stick, battery filler caps and secure baggies over them.
Step Two- Spray all over the engine and engine compartment with non-petroleum based degreaser, starting from the bottom and working up. Citrus degreasing products will not harm the paint or finish on aluminum components and are biodegradable. After 3-5 minutes use a soft cotton towel or brush to carefully scrub the heavy dirt. Re-spray and re-scrub any areas that need additional cleaning. Once the whole engine and engine compartment has been cleaned, rinse thoroughly with water. Try to avoid getting the degreaser on any exterior painted areas as it will strip the wax from your finish. If this happens, it’s okay, but you’ll have to give those areas a good wax job when you’re through.
Step three- Once clean, right away take off all the plastic baggies. Dry any collected water, especially on aluminum parts, with a soft cotton towel. Using paper towels, dry the battery. Start the engine and let it warm up, in order to dry the remainder of the engine and evaporate any moisture in sensitive components. Once everything is dry and cooled off is a good chance to put a coating of rubber protectant on your rubber hoses, plastic shields and rubber gaskets.
Step Four- If the battery terminals are dirty, disconnect the cables and clean both the cable terminals and battery posts with a wire brush. Reconnect the terminals and retighten. Get some battery terminal spray and spray on the connected terminals to protect them from corrosion.
Step Five- A thin coating of non-silicone lubricant should be applied to any hinges, throttle cables, cruise control cables and similar moving parts. Now check and top off fluid levels.
Take your car out for a spin and make sure the engine runs satisfactorily. Congratulations, you’re done and now should have a spotless shiny engine compartment.