The engine of your car is kept covered under the bonnet. It needs to be cleaned regularly so that the accumulated grime can be removed and the engine performs optimally. Moreover, you can spot any breakage, leakage, or other impending issues. If you want long-term reliability on your car, you must make it a point to clean, service, and replace the worn-out and defective parts on a regular basis.
The following are the safe and professional ways of cleaning your car engine, explained under three broader methods, namely i) Preparing, ii) Degreasing, and iii) Cleaning of Specific components of the engine.
1. Protection & Preparation of Dirty Engine
Removal of Debris
Start by removing debris from the hood, grille, and vent openings. The debris may come in the form of grass, leaves, twigs, and pine needles. You may use compressed air or just a handbrush for this purpose.
Disconnect the Battery
You will be required to spray water directly onto the engine. This may cause arcing or blowing of the fuses of the electrical components. Therefore, loosen the bolt on the negative terminal of the battery and slide off the ground cable. Disconnect the positive terminal to clean the battery outside the engine bay.
Cover Wirings and Electronic Components
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Cover the exposed loose wirings and electrical components, such as the spark plug inlet and the distributor cap, using small plastic cling wrap or plastic bags. You need to cover electronic components such as Alternator, Coil Packs, Alarm Housing, Electronic Control Unit (ECU), HID Ballast (Headlights), On-Board Diagnostics Port (OBD), and Air Intake Systems (Exposed).
Run Engine to Heat
After starting the engine, you need to keep it running for five minutes so that the heat generated eases the removal of the grease or grime.
Use a good brand of degreaser coming in a spray bottle. Spray it on the engine, starting from the bottom to up.
Cover Painted Components
Take care to see that the degreaser is not sprayed on any painted components because it may remove the clear coat off the paint. If however, it is sprayed, remove the same immediately by rinsing the degreaser.
Soaking of Degreaser
Allow three to five minutes to the degreaser for sucking the grime accumulated on the engine. Follow the instructions given on the degreaser bottle.
Scrub the Obstinate Grime
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There may still be some amount of deposit of grime, grease, or burnt oil sticking on the engine. Make use of a stiff-bristled brush for scrubbing the same. Use goggles to protect your eyes from the degreaser. Also, use hand gloves to prevent any side effects due to prolonged contact with the degreaser.
Avoid High-Pressure Hose
Avoid using the high-pressure hose for ringing the engine because that may cause disconnection of some wires. The pressure of the hose may also penetrate the plastic bag you have put for covering the electronic components or exposed wires. Therefore, use a regular garden hose fitted with a fire hose nozzle. In case, you notice any grime or dirt, even after rinsing, reapply the degreaser and leave it for few minutes.
3. Cleaning of Particular Component
There are some components on which you have put your specific attention for cleaning
Battery terminals are prone to corrosion. For cleaning the battery terminals, remove the cables of the battery and make use of a wire brush for scrubbing them. Alternatively, you can soak the ends of cables in an anti-corrosion chemical such as CLR.
If you find any corrosion caused due to leakage of the battery acid, use a mix of baking soda and water for neutralizing the same. To a bucket of water, add a bit of baking soda and stir it well to mix thoroughly. Dipping your brush to this mixture, scrub the battery terminals. You can also scrub other areas where you notice any leakage of acid.
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Aluminum and Plastic Parts
Clean the aluminum part of the engine compartment by using a small wire brush and a corrosion neutralizing chemical. Scrub the plastic components and panels with a plastic bristled brush and then wash the surface with soapy water, by using a piece of sponge. It may be difficult to scrub plastic parts like engine covers and reservoir caps. Use plastic bristled brush with stiff tooth to remove them
Protective Measures of Electronic Components
Remove protective devices and clean them with a soft cloth by using a non-residue cleaner like dry brake cleaner.
If you notice thick deposit of grime, use good quality of brake cleaner that will break up and evaporate the grime quickly. After inserting the straw into the nozzle of the brake cleaner point it at the deposit of the grime. Make use of the hard-toothed brush.
While cleaning your car engine, you may too often find the insulation of the wires gnawed, which is caused by mice. If these wires are connected to batteries, alternators or other electronic devices, chances of a short circuit are very high. If it occurs, you have to go in for costly restoration.
It is therefore essential that you adopt preventive measures to keep mice away from a car engine. The following steps will help you in keeping the mice away from your car engine:
- As the rodents like a dark place for nesting, leave the hood up, while it is in the garage.
- Rats can eat dog food, bird seed, and cat food and then carry a portion of the same to stuff into the air cleaner or the glove compartment of your car. Therefore, hide these foods
- Seal off possible hiding areas of rats, near your car
- Make use of electronic rat deterrent devices such as Rid-a-Rat or Mouse Blocker
- Make the engine smell bad to rats by using used cat litter, peppermint, dog hair, powdered fox urine red pepper, Irish Spring Soap or Laundry Dryer Sheets
- Adopt the oldest method of using mouse trap such as snap trap, glue traps. Use of toxic baits may work but can poison other domestic animals like cats and dogs.
- Seal small entrances to the engine compartment
Although car engine fuels are essential to you, you may not be well-acquainted with the names and functionalities of different fuels.
Petrol comes under different names such as 95 RON, Super Unleaded (97/98 RON) and Premium fuels like Shell V-Power Unleaded with octane rating (OR) of 99 RON
Diesel comes as Shell V-Power Diesel, BP Ultimate Diesel, and Total Excellium Diesel
LPG or Liquefied Petroleum Gas is used as an alternative to petrol for which the petrol engine has to be converted for running on LPG. Moreover, an additional tank like a gas cylinder has to be fitted.