Auto Engine Detailing Don't panic; it's easier than you think!
Auto engine detailingis an area of car detailing and car care that is filled with much more bad information than good!
Anyone looking under the hood of their car will become instantly fearful with the thought of water coming in contact with the car engine and its many moving parts, electrical connectors, and fuses.
The combination of bad information from misinformed people, along with a natural level of concern leaves no doubt as to why so many people are unwilling, or very fearful of trying to clean a car engine. The reality is that while a little common sense should be applied to every area of life, the good news is that learning how to detail a car engine is much easier than most could ever imagine!
A Clean Engine is a Happy Engine
It is unlikely I would have to explain why you would want to clean your engine; otherwise you would not be here. But there are other reasons a person may find themselves "needing" to detail or clean their engine aside from just "wanting" a clean engine.
One day you may find your mechanic insisting you get your engine cleaned or degreased so he can figure out where a leak is coming from, or for a variety of other repairs.
Let me tell you all the many reasons I recommend cleaning and detailing your car engine:
I love the look of a perfectly clean and detailed engine.
Unless you are a plant or worm; dirt is an enemy to everything! Including your car engine and the endless components of your engine.
When your engine is clean, it presents the ability to see the beginning of a problem sooner, rather than later. (oil leaks, water leaks, worn belts, etc.)
I believe that when you take your car in for service; any mechanic will not only prefer to work on a clean engine, but will actually treat your car better. A clean engine will provide for a happier mechanic (we want a happier mechanic) and will strongly suggest to your mechanic that you are a more discerning and particular customer. There will be a greater expectation put upon him to perform to a higher standard on your car than the typical dirty-ass car engine)
heard that you should never get your engine wet, or that there are
certain parts of your engine that have to be covered if you are going to
clean the engine of your car."
Yes, a hundred years
ago that statement would have been much more relevant and true. But
today's engines are not the engines of yesterday.
If you lift the
hood to where your engine is hiding out and examine the way it is built,
you will begin to see how most modern day engines have much in the way
of covers and shrouding.
You should also examine all the
electrical connectors and observe how protected they are. Not only are
all the electrical connectors built with heavier duty connectors, but
are typically assembled using a grease like substance that protects the
actual contact points from moisture and water.(this cannot be seen unless you disconnect the connectors)
This is all good news!
Auto Engine Detailing: Is it really safe?
The simple answer is YES!
By this point you are likely beginning to come to a new understanding of modern day engines and your ability to actually clean and detail a car engine...
specifically, YOUR car engine!!
"But Darren, what about the fuse box or alternator; surely these cannot become wet?"
Yes and no.
Allow me to explain.....
A big majority of cars have the fuses located inside your car.
If the fuse box is located in the engine bay, it is fully housed in a fuse box that is built to be very secure and protected from dirt, moisture, and water. (unless it is severely damaged, you would have to try very hard to get water into this box)
Cars today have fuel-injection systems which are completely contained systems that are air and water tight. (there are very few exceptions to this rule. On a few of the Ford truck engines, the seals around the fuel injectors have the ability to leak water through. This is the only exception I have come across in the 30 years I have been auto engine detailing. If you are still concerned, you can ask your mechanic.)
Due to the steps I recommend below, I show you how to go about auto engine detailing in the safest of ways.
Clean Engine or Dirty Engine: Which one would you rather have
BMW engine before engine detailing
BMW engine after engine detailing
Auto Engine Detailing: The actual steps to a clean engine
To be performed on cool to warm engine. Cleaning and detailing a very hot car engine is not advisable. If you cannot rest your hand on the top of the engine (the intake manifold specifically) for approximately 30 seconds, I would consider this a hot engine.
Spray entire engine with degreaser.
Use any brushes necessary to break-up areas of excessive dirt/grease/oil build-up.
Hose off using tap water from your garden hose with either a water nozzle attached for directional pressure, or an electric pressure washer.
Use leaf blower (or compressed air if you have access to an air compressor) to blow engine so no standing water exists within engine bay. Paying special attention to what you might consider sensitive areas.
Wipe down any standing water present on car paint, glass, etc. to prevent water-spotting. (You may want to do this prior to blowing the engine off with the leaf blower)
Start engine and allow engine to heat up to normal operating temperature. (approximately 10 minutes) to allow any moving parts or belts to dry completely. (occasionally you will hear a squeal from the fan belts upon initial start-up. As a rule this will stop within the first few seconds. If it continues for the duration of the first two minutes, you might need to use some belt lubricant that can be purchased from your local auto parts store. This has happened one time in my 30 year career.)
Apply some form of dressing to engine if you want a truly detailed and shiny engine. (this is not a requirement, but simply for visual enhancement of your car engine.)
Stand back in amazement at your amazing results.
Engine Degreasers that Work!
A quality engine degreaser like the ones below will produce amazing results. Both products are concentrates and can be custom diluted based on your needs.
Not only excellent for auto engine detailing and cleaning, but so versatile in cleaning with the ability to custom blend based on your exact cleaning requirements.
I use the Meguiar's professionally since I know many of you will want to know what I use in my own professional world. The Meguiar's super-degreaser is also the exact degreaser (diluted 4:1 when doing engines) in all my auto engine detailing videos on YouTube.
Dressing your engine as part of the auto engine detailing is a requirement for me and my world. You may come to a different conclusion based on your preference.
Darren's Note:Many people get "wiggy" about applying a dressing to their car engine. I have always been a huge fan; but it's not for everyone. Many people will also become wiggy once they read some of the labels of traditional dressings due to the flammable warning labels; especially the aerosol dressings. Just read the descriptions below and decide which one you are most comfortable with.
Really makes your engine "POP" after you have done the initial cleaning.
Doesn't necessarily "attract" dirt/dust, but will allow dirt/dust to stick to your engine better.
Rather than only look at this as a problem, you might also consider a dressing as a sacrificial layer. A superficial layer that now prevents dirt from actually touching your engine and components, but can easily be cleaned off each time, It is a matter of perspective and experience.
I know many off-roaders that accept that dirt will "stick" to a freshly dressed engine, but understand that it is easily cleaned away with the accumulated dirt when they perform the auto engine detailing each time.
I prefer an aerosol dressing over the traditional dressings as they are so easy to apply.
The light consistency allows for complete penetration of the endless details of an engine.
Any aerosol will be flammable due to the propellant. So any aerosol dressing will also be labeled as flammable.
I never use on a running or hot engine. Cool to warm engine's only.
The actual dressing is not flammable so once you have sprayed the engine, you will not have to worry. (I know there are many of you that will, so I suggest you stick with the CarPro PERL above)
I have used aerosol dressings ever since I first started detailing engines well over twenty years ago and have never had a single problem.
There are many aerosol dressings you can choose from and I demonstrate many different types within the many auto engine detailing videos I have done. They all perform similarly enough where you don't need to overthink it. Since I go through so much, I buy a separate brand by the case which cannot be found within amazon.
If you live in an area where you depend on air freight for shipment, you will not be able to order any of the aerosols.
Simply spray entire engine with a light application once you have finished blowing engine off, allowed engine to run until it reaches normal operating temperatures, and allowed to cool back down. I promise; you will be amazed!