How to Clean & Detail a Car Engine

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    • 1). Warm up your car's engine a little bit before you clean and detail it. The best time to do this is in the morning after it's been sitting all night. Prepare the engine by covering everything that should not get wet, including air filters, breather caps, valve covers and oil filler caps. Use plastic grocery bags and secure them with rubber bands or tape.

    • 2). Use compressed air, a leaf blower or an old paint brush to remove leaves or dirt from the grille and vents. Before applying a degreaser, scrape away at tight corners or compressed areas of your car engine with a flat-head screwdriver or an old toothbrush to remove built-on grime.

    • 3). Place a large drip pan under your car's engine to collect residue and to protect your driveway or garage floor. Be sure to dispose of the contents responsibly in accordance with your town's hazardous waste disposal or recycling laws. Let the pan sit for a few days after cleaning your engine to let the water evaporate.

    • 4). Buy a commercial degreaser, preferably one that's citrus-based and comes in a spray bottle, and apply enough of it on your engine for a good soak. Be sure to spray into the firewall and the back of the engine bay as far down as you can go. Let the degreaser penetrate the dirt and grime for a few minutes, then begin scraping and scrubbing away at the dirt while the engine is still wet.

    • 5). Rinse the degreaser from your engine using a garden hose with a light pressure or misting nozzle. Use a detail brush or a wash mitt sprayed with warm, soapy water to get into hard-to-reach areas and rinse again.

    • 6). Examine your car engine for areas that you may have missed during the scrubbing process. Re-apply the degreaser to missed areas and scrub and scrape again until everything is clean and gunk-free. Dry off the engine with a motorcycle dryer or compressed air, or start the car and let it idle for five or more minutes.

    • 7). Turn the engine off and spray a protective rubber/vinyl dressing on hoses, wires and plastic covers that you can get at an auto supply store. Wipe any excess off with a dry shop cloth. Use a high quality wax sealant for painted areas under the hood, but stay away from one that's carnauba-based as it doesn't last long on a hot engine.

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