Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Engine detailing/cleaning on newer vehicles

stubborn1stubborn1 Posts: 85
edited March 2014 in Honda
I did a search of the past archives and haven't found much relating to cleaning engines on today's vehicles with tons of electronic components.

In the old days, you would just spray gunk on the engine block, let it sit for ten min, start the vehicle and hose off the grease. Now, you are lucky to see 6 square inches of the engine block without interference.

Does anyone have any suggestions for cleaning newer engines? I am going to be doing a bunch of fluid changes on my car with 35k miles and would really like to clean the engine.


  • bretfrazbretfraz Posts: 2,021
    First I identify where the sensitive electronic components are and cover them with plastic.

    Then I spray the engine with a citrus based cleaner and let it sit per directions.

    I hose it off with a fine, steady stream of water. I then start the engine to dry some of the water. Shut off engine and hand dry as much as I can.

    Any serious cleaning should be done by hand with mild cleaner and an old wash mitt. Rinse lightly. Final step is to apply a water-based protectant to exposed components.

    Most modern engines seem to have a large plastic cover that needs to be removed to actually see the engine. Be careful with them as they can be expensive to replace.

    Hope this helps.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    that's the best deal - clean the engine frequently as to not let a bunch of gunk build up. Also, that protectant not only makes things look good, it protects hoses, vacuum lines and other plastic and rubber parts, and makes it easier to clean next time.

    I clean my engine about every other time I give the car a good wash. Really freaks the dealership technicians out to see "clean" under a hood.
  • stubborn1stubborn1 Posts: 85
    Do you mean a product like Armor All for a water based protectant? I know you don't want to use anything solvent based because it will eat away at rubber components.

    I already use Armor All for hoses and belts. Is there a better product out there?
  • bretfrazbretfraz Posts: 2,021
    Go to an auto parts store and most of the "tire shines" and related products are silicone oil-based products. Silicone oil is about the worst thing you can apply to rubber and plastic for a whole myriad of reasons. I'm specifically referring to polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) which is widely used in car care products.

    Not all silicones are bad (there are something like 30,000 silicone formulations) but you have to dig deep to find the protectants that are water-based and use non damaging silicones. Some products are:

    303 Aerospace Protectant
    Lexol Vinylex
    Eagle One Interior/Exterior Protectant
    Pinnacle rubber and vinyl lotion

    If you want to leave a nice gloss all over the engine there are a few products that work well. The best one I know of is a pro product called Meguiar's Engine Kote; gotta buy it by the gallon, though.

    Armor All has reformulated their protectants and some are now water-based. But for many years their products were completely awful and I will never suggest or buy their products again.
  • rubicon52rubicon52 Posts: 191
    How do dealerships clean the engines of used cars? Do they send them out for steam cleaning? If so, are there any drawbacks to steam cleaning?
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    for the most part, just detergent/solvent and high pressure, like at the car wash. Then they hose it down with Armor All (or the like) and they're done.

    There's no real drawback to steam cleaning versus high-pressure, except that the steam fogs your glasses. The same precautions, as far as electrical components, should be taken, but usually aren't.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Like everybody in the "olden days" I used Armor All. In essence, they were the only game in town. I bought an expensive .5 gallon refill jug one time and sent in for the $5.00 rebate. I tried and tried, but never got the money. I swore it off those many years ago, and I have never spent another nickel on any of their offerings. The upshot to the story is that I discovered Blue Coral products. I honestly think they are better all around, even overlooking the chiselling on the rebate. It goes without saying, but your recommendation for Meguiar's products demonstrates your excellent taste.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    There really isn't any need to clean a modern engine compartment. Still, every couple of years, I'll pull into one of the self-serve car washes and LIGHTLY rinse off the engine compartment after spraying it with Gunk.

    It's too easy to screw something up by getting water into things.

    As far as Armor-All...I happen to think the stuff is pure garbage! It leaves a slimy artifical look and feel to everything. I once applied it to my dash and the next week the dash was cracked in three places.

    Professional detailers hate it too.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    protectants are bad - water-based protectants don't crank your dash.

    Detailing since 1978
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Anybody else out there agree with me that the slippery, greasy looking tire detailing that is seemingly popular at the present time is bad news? If you want tires to look natural, and clean at the same time, use Bleche Wite or a similar product.
  • blackz24blackz24 Posts: 6
    I agree that the greasy look is bad news. My car is black and even after wiping down the tires twice with a clean dry rag, after driving a few kms there are small spots all over the car. All I use now on my tires is a semi-stiff scrub brush ever 2-4th wash depending on how dirty the sidewalls are. It may not be easy, but at least it doesn't attract dust.
This discussion has been closed.