What Are Some Tips for Cleaning a Car Engine?


Quick Answer

Tips for cleaning an engine include covering electrical parts before your start, removing loose dirt with compressed air and using a commercial engine cleaner for loosening greasy dirt. Clean areas around electrical connections with brake cleaner that dissolves grime without leaving residue. Clean aluminum by soaking a wire brush in a calcium, lime and rust removal product and then gently scrubbing with a scrubber sponge you dip in the solution. Scrub plastic parts with a soft brush, soap and water.

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Full Answer

Before cleaning an older vehicle that is susceptible to electrical problems, make the electrical repairs before cleaning. Covering alternators, distributors, relays and other sensitive parts with plastic prevents water saturation when spraying the engine.

Any loose dirt you remove with compressed air or a shop vacuum prior to soaking the engine does not become a part of the emulsified material you have to rinse away later. If you prefer a more environmentally friendly product than engine cleaner, use a degreasing product like SimpleGreen, available in gallon containers from many home improvement stores. Keep cleaners away from electrical parts, and give them about 30 minutes to dissolve the grease before rinsing with water.

Once the bulk of the dirt is gone, spray brake cleaner around the reserved areas and use a clean rag to wipe them clean and dry. Clean any plastic parts, and dry them with compressed air or paper towels. Inspect the engine and repeat the cleaning process for any parts that remain dirty.

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