How to clean your car’s engine compartment

EngineCleaning courtesy of  150x150 How to clean your cars engine compartmentIt seems obvious to clean your car’s interior upholstery, but most car owners never think to give their engine compartment a good scrub down. For DIY mechanic Rob Reese, cleaning the car’s engine is a great way for car owners to become familiar with the parts that run their car’s motor. “It’s amazing how many people never even take a peek under the hood,” he said.

Keeping a car engine clean is important because the often-present combination of heat and grime can cause engine components, such as hoses, wires, plastic parts, and vinyl trim covers, to crack or wear over time. If you are thinking about selling your car, a clean engine—while it might not technically increase the resale value—will surely impress prospective buyers and help to convince them that the car has been well maintained.

Here’s how to clean your engine compartment:

Begin by warming up the engine for a few minutes. A warm engine will help the water to evaporate faster. It is also ideal to clean your engine on a sunny, warm day to aid with evaporation.

First remove the negative terminal cable on the car battery, then the positive terminal cable.

Turn the engine off. Now, you’ll want to protect the components of your engine that might be damaged by water. Be sure to block the air intake, to prevent water from entering the engine. If the air filter has an opening, you can plug it with a rag or tinfoil, or a plastic bag, secured with a rubber band. It is also important not to get the distributor cap wet (this may prevent the ignition from starting up), so be sure to cover it with a plastic bag.

Fill a spray bottle with any all-purpose cleaner, or a mixture of warm water and grease-cutting dish soap. Spray solution onto every part of the engine. Let solutions sit for 30-60 seconds.

If you feel confident that you have secured the water-sensitive components of the engine, you can spray the entire motor down with a hose. If this makes you nervous, you can use a second spray bottle full of water, or a damp towel.

After the first rinse, you will notice areas that are more deeply encrusted with grime. A toothbrush can be used to dislodge these particles.

After one last rinse, you can wipe the engine down with a towel or rag. Remove coverings from the distributor and air intake. You may also need to pick any stray leaves, etc, out of the engine compartment by hand.

—Merete Mueller

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