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Cleaning the Engine of Used Cars

There are a number of good reasons for keeping your automobile engine clean of accumulations of grease and oil. You reduce the hazard of fire, and a clean engine has a better appearance and runs cooler. In addition, it’s easier to inspect, service, and repair underhood components.

There are several ways to clean your car’s engine. If you have access to a steam cleaner, this is the best method to use. Some service stations and auto garages will perform this service. Another alternative is the self-service, coin-operated, high-pressure hose available at car washing facilities.

How to Clean the Car Engine Efficiently?

You can, however, clean your engine yourself with an engine degreaser. In general, engine degreasers have a fairly strong odor, but this type of chemical cleaner is usually non-flammable and will do an adequate job.

Things to be Alert of

Degreasing products sold as engine or parts cleaners contain chemicals that may damage the painted finish of your car. Some of these undesirable chemicals are trisodium phosphate (TSP), acetone, caustic soda, and lacquer thinner (a petroleum distillate).

To be sure that your car is protected from possible paint damage, be sure to cover the cowl (at the bottom of the windshield) and front fenders. If a spill or overspray should touch the painted finish, flush the area with water and wipe it dry.

Car Cleaning with Engine Degreaser

If you decide to use a commercially available engine degreaser, here is how to do it.

Start the Engine for 15-20 Minutes

We recommend you wear old clothes because they might become permanently spotted. First, you need to start the engine and run it for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then, until it reaches normal operating temperature. This will speed the removal of grime.

Filter Housing Removal Process

Turn the engine off, raise the hood and remove the air filter housing. Wrap with plastic (sections of plastic trash bags can be used) all components that might be affected if doused with water, especially the distributor and the carburetor.

Other components to cover include the ignition coil and the alternator. On diesel engines, cover the alternator and intake manifold air inlet.

After covering these components, secure the plastic with tape, rubber bands, or string to prevent it from being dislodged by the water pressure of the hose.

Coat the Entire Engine Properly using Degreaser

Coat the entire engine with the engine degreaser according to the manufacturer’s directions. Caution: Do not smoke. Some degreasers are flammable. If a product with a squirt-type can is used, you may have to use an old paintbrush to coat inaccessible areas. Some engine degreasers are available in spray cans, which although more expensive-do a good job of covering the engine.  Allow the degreaser to work for the time directed.

Wash the Engine with Water from a Garden Hose

This washing process shouldn’t be that tough.  But there are some issues you needed to be alert at. On diesel engines, don’t spray the injection pump unless it is cold. Spraying cold water on a hot pump can damage the pump.

In addition, you may have to chip some of the heavier accumulations away with a putty knife or other scraper.

Finishing off the Cleaning

After the engine cleaning job is completed, remove the plastic wrapping from the carburetor and other components. Replace the air filter housing and close the hood.

Start the engine

If you have difficulty getting the engine started, the spark plug wires may be wet. Usually, wiping them off with a clean cloth will solve the problem. If this does not make starting easier, look for excessive moisture at the ignition coil or at the distributor. Wipe these components dry with a clean rag.

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