Auto Engine Detailing

2008 Shelby Mustang Super Snake engine detail

 Auto engine detailing is often an overlooked part of the detail process. The fact that you don't look at your engine everyday makes it easy to forget about. A good engine shampoo can actually be beneficial.

If you have an older vehicle chances are there may have been fluid leaks at some point. Maybe there are leaks currently. Its pretty hard to spot the source of the leak when everything is caked in grease and dirt build up! Even if you have a newer vehicle, auto engine detailing once or twice per year will keep it looking as new.

If you are at all nervous about doing engine detailing yourself, I highly recommend having it done by a detail shop or an auto mechanic.

If you go to the local auto parts store or Walmart, you are going to find two types of engine degreasers. Foaming and liquid. I have used both and both work well. Just be sure to read the directions on the can or bottle. Some may ask you to spray directly on a dry engine, others will ask you to spray the engine with water first.

Some may be harmful to the paint surface, polished aluminium, or chrome, so use with caution. You could avoid "engine degreasers" altogether and simply purchase an all purpose cleaner, APC.

An APC such as Simple Green is inexpensive and effective. The great thing about an APC is you can dilute it to suit your needs. A greasy dirty engine can be cleaned with full strength whereas a dusty engine can be cleaned with a diluted mix. The same rules apply though, be careful around chrome, polished aluminium, and paint surfaces. Especially if you are using a strong mix.

Components that don't react well to water are the alternator, ignition components such as distributors and coil packs, the engine computer, and exposed air filters. If these items are in plain sight its a good idea to cover them with plastic grocery bags. Most of the time these components can handle some moisture but its best not to soak them or spray them directly with water.

Do not spray cold water on your hot engine! Its ok if it is warm but if hot, let it cool down for a bit. If your engine is cold and really dirty, its ok to let it run for 30 seconds to a minute to get it warm. The warmth will make it easier to remove the grease.

Spray the cleaner on the engine. I like to attack it from 4 different directions. From the front to the back, back to front, from the right side to the left, and the left side to the right. Spraying in these positions will ensure the best coverage. Let the cleaner dwell for a minute or two but not long enough for it to dry to the surface.

Engine detailing also includes the inside of your hood. Is it really dirty too? If using an APC, spray the inside of the hood also. If your hood has fabric hood insulation avoid it, just spray the exposed areas. Soaked hood insulation will sag and eventually break apart.

Now its time to rinse. You can rinse with a garden hose with good results but for the best results, use a pressure washer. Rinse from the same 4 angles you applied the cleaner. Make sure to check over areas such as valve covers, the transmission, and engine block.

If you are satisfied with your engine detail, remove the plastic bags from the components. If not, you may have to re-apply the cleaner to the areas that are stubborn.

Now you can carry on with washing the exterior of your vehicle. Its always a good idea to wash the exterior after an engine detail because there is always overspray on the fenders, windshield, etc.

An auto engine detail without dressing applied.

If you desire that show car look, you can spray your engine down with a water based dressing. A water based dressing will bond to the black rubber/plastic components giving it that new car look without attracting dust like a petroleum based dressing.

Once your engine is dressed, your journey into auto engine detailing is complete! Close the hood and continue washing your vehicle.

Liquid dressings in spray bottle form that are safe to use on leather interiors are usually not petroleum based. These will work well when dressing your engine.

An engine detail with a water based dressing applied.

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