The Anatomy of Healthy Cars: A Service and Repair Blog

Follow these tips for cleaning your car's engine

by Brittany Marshall

When you clean your car, you probably spend a lot of time cleaining the body of the vehicle, the windows, and the interior. However, you also need to clean underneath the hood, particularly with the engine. Here are some helpful tips for getting that car engine clean.

Choose a Degreasing Product

The first thing you need to do is decide what type of degreasing product you want to use. If you are sensitive to strong smells, you will be better of using one that is water-based. This works for mild to moderate grease on the engine, but it won't cut through grease quite as good as a solvent-based product. If you haven't cleaned your engine for a while and can handle the stronger smell, consider using one that is solvent-based. You also want to look at the form of the degreaser. For example, some are simply liquid degreasers, which are again better for a small amount of grease and oil on the engine. For tougher jobs, the gel and foam degreasing products are better to use.

Loosen the Grease First

Now that you have your degreasing product, you need to loosen up the grease on your engine. While this is optional, it is highly recommended because built-up grease and oil can be difficult to remove. If you have just returned from the store after picking up your degreaser, it is the perfect time to get started, since operating your vehicle allows that grease to warm up and loosen a bit. If your car is cold, turn it on and let it run idle for a few minutes first.

Use the Degreasing Product

You are now finally ready to start using the degreasing product. You will begin by spraying the engine and letting the degreaser soak for a few minutes to start working on the grease and oil buildup. Be careful not to get it on hoses or seals that are made of rubber if you are using a degreaser that contains petroleum. Water-based degreasers should be safe to use on most auto parts. You also want to be careful with how much you use. If you try to spray too much degreaser on the engine, it could drip down to the body of your car and remove the wax. Next, use a scrubbing brush that is safe to use on metal surfaces to start removing the grease from the engine.

Rinse and Dry the Engine

When rinsing the engine, don't use anything with a lot of pressure. Avoid using a pressure washer or a hose that has a high-pressure nozzle on it. A traditional nozzle on your garden hose works fine for rinsing the degreaser and removing any remaining grease from the engine. Make sure it is rinsed fully and that you dry it with a towel instead of letting it air-dry.

If you don't feel comfortable cleaning your car's engine on your own, consider asking the mechanic to do it the next time you take your car in to be serviced.