: engine compartment cleaning?

07-26-09, 09:53 AM
My 79 Sedan deVille is driven every day. I maintain the exterior in pristine condition most always. The engine compartment looks like the ghetto in comparison. My neighbor admires my car and always comes over to help me out with any little thing whether I need help or not. :) Anyway, neighbor guy wants to clean my engine bay with "Gunk" or "degreaser" of some sort at the car wash up the street and spray the engine bay to a like new appearance to match the outside. Even though I was a car dealer for 17 years almost all problems I had with cars after detailing was from high pressure water affecting the mechanicals. Believe it or not I've sprayed Tire Foam on dirty engine compartment areas, not on belts or electricals, and the foam floated the dirt away fairly well for my purposes. What is the best way to give the engine bay a little lift by cleaning it up without risking unnecessarily stranding myself on the roadside with water saturated mechanicals?

07-26-09, 08:10 PM
I think the best way is to take your time. Unbolt the stuff that needs to be and get some good rags. I just saw a TV car show that took some time to talk about this and they unbolted everything, taped off stuff, sprayed a very strong degreaser, cleaned up and then painted the stuff that wouldnt cleanup nice. Thats the long way to do it but how clean do you want it. Unbolting and taping off stuff may be a little much but painting the little stuff a flat black sounds pretty groovy.

07-27-09, 12:36 AM
I don't trust anything that needs to be hosed off the engine, so I take a more painful and time consuming rout. I usually clean my engine every season (excluding winter), using Armor All "Cleaning" wipes. I mostly clean what can be seen with the air clean assembly on; the front clip, fender wells, battery, vacuum canisters, coolant hoses, vacuum lines, AC lines, pulleys, fluid reservoirs, master cylinder/ brake booster, distributor/ plug wires, fire wall, and wiper unit. I then follow everything up with Armor All "Protectant" wipes (which is the only time and place I use Armor All). I usually wash the air cleaner in my kitchen sink, and take off the coolant expansion bottle to get the gunk out of it. Overall the engine looks clean and appealing.

It was early spring, and still cold, so I didn't do a very detailed job at cleaning, especially the fire wall.


07-27-09, 12:45 AM
Bag critical components, distrubutor , and use spray nine. That's what i do and i've never had a problem. Just avoid using lots of pressure around the spark plugs and intake.

07-27-09, 02:36 AM
I use a hose to spray it down, and I don't spray it directly on electrical components. High pressure water is just asking for trouble.

I spray greased lightning on the engine/mechanicals, go over it with a sponge soaked in soap. I don't spray the degreaser anywhere near painted surfaces such as the fenders, underside of the hood, etc. I just use soap and water for those parts.

My favorite magic trick is to get out the leaf blower and blow everything dry, then towel it off. I can usually get a grimy engine to look pretty respectable in about 30 minutes doing that. Its not going to win any car shows, but it'll look 100x better than before.

07-27-09, 11:51 AM
I appreciate the input! Even though some of you guys have enjoyed good luck with the high pressure I think I'm going to try the Sven route first and wipe every greasy part in that there engine bay as clean as I can get it and then evaluate. :) I'm not entering a concours d'elegance with my old tank so perfection is less important than the car being able to be rock solid reliable. Thanks for all the comments! I mentioned spraying tire foam under the hood to foam away the dirt and grime - - does anyone think that's a good idea or crazy? Thanks!! :)

07-27-09, 03:52 PM
OK, I spent about 15 minutes on this. Sprayed tire foam and let the dirt float away. Then I carefully wiped each part down as best I could and then put on some 303. Looking at the pictures I need to get at the hoses a little better but this is such an improvement over the way it looked before that I'm happy to leave it alone since this car is a driver and it's not going to a car show any time soon. Thanks to everyone who shared their ideas! Dave :)

07-27-09, 05:59 PM
The engine looks good. It is amazing what a difference it makes.