A car engine can be one of the dirtiest parts of your car, full of all sorts of grime and grot that tends to go unnoticed until you come to do your regular service. If you take a look inside an engine bay, it's not uncommon to see lots of oil splatters, various bits of fluff like cotton buds laying around (that were accidentally dropped by who knows who), soil stuck in crevices and much more unmentionable crud.
Why should you degrease an engine?
If left uncleaned for too long, this build-up can begin to affect how well your engine functions so it is important to clean your engine at least every 15 000km. When cleaning your engine bay I'd recommend using degreaser as it is the most effective way of removing grease, oil and soil from these hard to reach areas.
Degreaser also helps get rid of old dirt that has been baked on by the sun during it's journey through your car's engine bay. This is especially important if you live in a hot climate where cars tend to get extremely dirty very quickly. If left for too long, this can lead to permanent staining which will be near impossible to remove without damaging your paintwork.
When cleaning an engine with degreaser, you want to avoid getting it on all your car's rubber parts including hoses, seals and gaskets. These components are made from material that will not stand up to harsh chemicals so they can quickly deteriorate when exposed. You also don't want the degreaser to come into contact with plastic parts as over time it will cause them to become brittle.
You may need to use a separate cloth or sponge for each area in order to keep everything separate. If possible, cover up all sensitive areas before applying the degreaser directly onto your engine bay.
How to use degreaser on an engine
If your engine bay is very dirty, I would recommend using a stiff brush to apply the degreaser directly onto stubborn areas to help break down any built up dirt and grease before wiping it away with a clean sponge or cloth.
Using an old toothbrush can also be helpful for getting into tight spots where the chemical may not reach otherwise. Cleaning your engine with degreaser will take several applications of the product as well as some elbow grease from you so don't expect it to be done in one go.
What to do after you've degreased the engine
- Once you have given the engine bay a thorough clean, it is important to get rid of all traces of degreaser. This will prevent any fresh contaminants from being attracted to the area and becoming stuck on there in future. You can simply do this by leaving a hose connected to a tap running directly over the top of the engine which will help wash away stubborn chemicals.
- Make sure not to use too much force as you could cause damage if water begins flooding into areas where it doesn't belong such as brake fluid reservoirs or electrical components. It may take several runs with a hose to remove all traces of chemical so try using multiple sources around your house or work place if possible until all visible signs are gone.
- Once your engine bay has been hosed down, it is time to dry everything properly so that any remaining moisture does not remain in the engine bay for too long.
- You can do this by simply using an air compressor or even just a hair dryer to warm up the area and evaporate the water quickly. If you find that there are still some wet areas, avoid rubbing them with anything as this will only cause more damage over time. Instead, use paper towel or shop towels to soak up any excess liquid until it no longer appears wet after drying again thoroughly. Take care when doing this however as crumpled paper towel could scratch delicate painted surfaces if used improperly so be sure to flatten out all wrinkles before moving on.
- Once everything has dried properly, you can apply fresh paint protection if necessary. The degreaser should not have caused any damage to your existing coatings or wax so it should only be needed to protect the area from future contaminants.