How to Clean Engine Bay? Step-By-Step Guide

Published: 09/14/22 •  7 min read

Step-By-Step Guide to the clean engine bay is about more than just getting the oils and liquids off. It’s also about removing dirt, dust, and grime from little nooks and crannies, so you never have to worry about your vehicle running dirty.

Even though the engine compartment is not exposed directly to the elements, you can spot debris and dust through holes in the hood and from the vehicle’s front. Cleaning your engine may sound difficult to you. So here is a step-by-step guide to clean the engine bay.

How to Clean Engine Bay Fast and Effectively?

The engine bay protects your car’s engine, which is why it is essential to keep it clean. 

Required Tools for Cleaning Engne Bay

tools for cleaning car engine bay

Required Materials For Cleaning Engine Bay

Step 1: Choose a Suitable Location

The dirt that accumulates in a vehicle’s engine compartment is harmful to the engine. It should never be allowed to be a part of the system. If you opt to wash your car yourself, it is essential to understand how to collect and handle it.

If you are not keen to clean your engine compartment at home, you could go to a self-service auto wash. It requires collecting water, cleansing, and reusing it inside a closed system that removes harmful substances to ensure safe disposal. 

A word of caution: If you wash your engine compartment in a self-service car wash center, you need to be highly cautious of the water pressure as it is significantly more than the garden hose pressure.

Step 2: Allow the Engine to Cool Down

It is crucial to begin the process with a cool engine. Be cautious as spraying water over hot parts could cause damage due to cracks and warping. In addition, hot components can melt the plastic used to shield electrical components and burn the hands when you work. Instead, lift the hood to speed up the cooling procedure.

Step 3: Check Caps and Covers

Ensure you check all caps, covers, and dipsticks are sealed securely. It is not good to have dirt and water leak through these cracks.

Step 4: Guard the Filters and Electrical Systems

Remove the battery’s terminals and take off the battery. Be aware that with the majority of newer automobiles, you will lose your seat position, radio, and other electronic data if the battery is cut off in the absence of power backup.

Use electrical tape and plastic or zip ties to secure the electrical components under the hood. The fuse box, the alternator distributor cap, spark plugs, coil packs could all be damaged due to water penetration. Also, make sure to cover any exposed filters that are susceptible to being damaged.

Step 5: Get Ready

It is crucial to protect your mouth and eyes from debris. So cover your eyes and face by wearing protective glasses and a dust shield. Also, don’t forget to put on nitrile or rubber gloves to shield your hands from harsh cleaning agents and staining.

If you are working at your home, put an empty drip tray underneath the engine. Place the absorbent pads on the lower part of the tray. However, working in a self-service car wash will eliminate the need to collect harmful substances.

Step 6: Clean

Start cleaning by removing the dry materials and cleaning up any loose dirt. Next, use brushes to reach crevices and cracks and break the buildup. Fiber brushes are suitable for synthetic and plastic surfaces, and a wire brush is the best choice to use on the metal surface. 

Then, vacuum to remove all loose dirt. Remove the drip tray and then vacuum all the dirt if you are at home.

Step 7: Use Spray

Make use of warm water in the spray bottles to dampen the surfaces of the engine compartment. This helps the degreaser perform its work evenly and stops it from drying out on

engines. In addition, the warm water can help prevent parts that might be hot from forming cracks and warping. Finally, utilizing a spray bottle allows greater control over the application and reduces the amount of water reclaimed. 

Step 8: Degrease

Apply the degreaser using the bottle spray on all the exposed surfaces within the engine bay, focusing on areas where dirt has accumulated. Wait for 10 minutes to allow the degreaser to be at work.

Till then, take your shop vacuum and switch it to a wet operation. Now, you can use it to store your contaminated liquid. Then, if you are at home, use it to empty your drip tray once it gets full.

Step 9: Rinse and Collect

Utilize a low-pressure spray to rinse the car’s engine bay. At the self-service car wash, water guns come with high-pressure water. So it would help if you stay cautious when using them. Don’t trigger high pressure while cleaning your car’s engine compartment.

While working at your home, utilize the absorbent pads and shop vacuum to manage runoff. After rinsing with the shop vacuum, you can use it to draw out the water accumulated in crevices and cavities in the engine compartment. Rinse the areas using the water spray bottle and wipe them clean using the cloth—clean other regions with the degreaser. 

Take the water that has been collected and vacuum up any excess water from the pads and the drip tray. The pads should be sealed in plastic garbage bags to dispose of.

Step 10: Dry the Engine Bay

Make use of a blower to assist in drying the engine bay. After that, let the engine be parked with the hood open for about an hour or as long as it is possible to dry completely.

Step 11: Reinstall the Battery

Clean the protective plastic covering the electrical parts using cloths and brushes. Make sure to use the least amount of moisture possible. Once all these components are cleaned and the engine bay has dried completely, reinstall the battery.

Step 12: Run the Engine

Start the engine, and let it rise to operate temperatures. The engine should then be able to eliminate any remaining moisture. If you have been working at home, take the soiled pads and the basin of contaminated water to a toxic waste disposal facility.

Step 13: Repeat Regularly

When you give your engine bay the once-in-a-year cleaning, you not only will make it appear great, but you are also decreasing the negative consequences of dirt and corrosion. 

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WD-40 is not advised for engine cleaning. It’s a good idea to check with the vehicle manufacturer before using WD-40 or any other product on your car’s engine bay. Many manufacturers will recommend that you use an approved car detailing spray, which has been tested along with their recommended products to ensure it won’t do damage to the engine bay.

You can wipe down your engine bay with a degreasing cleaner and a soft microfiber cloth or sponge. You can read below for more detailed instructions on how to do this properly. The steps are as follows:

  • Wash the engine bay with soap and water.
  • Use a degreaser on the engine bay.
  • Rinse the degreased engine bay with clean water.
  • Dry the engine bay using a microfiber cloth or towel.

It takes about 20 to 45 minutes total to clean your engine bay.

It’s not complicated to clean your engine bay, but you do need to know the correct steps and the proper order of operations for this task.

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The Bottom Line

It is crucial not to let the engine compartment become excessively filthy. A simple degreasing every one or two years will keep the engine bay clean. A sparkling engine bay is sure to make you smile!