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HOW I CLEAN ENGINE BAYS

LOOK AS GOOD AS IT RUNS

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Cotta's Car Care Crest

APRIL 26,2024

The engine bay is the heart of your car, often overlooked but crucial for optimal performance. Detailing this part of your vehicle not only enhances its aesthetics but also ensures longevity and functionality. However, navigating the intricacies of engine bay detailing requires knowledge, skill, and debunking some common myths. In this guide, we'll delve into the art of safely detailing your car's engine bay, along with some valuable tips, tricks, and myth-busting insights.

Professional car detailer inspecting a dirty engine bay for cleaning

TOOLS & CHEMICALS YOU WILL NEED

I'm assuming you have some of the tools already like the pressure washer, two buckets, brushes, leaf blower or compressed air, etc. Those would be needed just like a maintenance wash but here are the tools and chemicals for this specific  circumstance.

  • All Purpose Cleaner: or APC this doubles as our degreaser for any oil or grease stains. I go with Koch Chemie's Green Star. The formulation is a bit more concentrated than other APC's which means it has stronger cleaning abilities in dirtier areas but still gentle enough to not damage anything. I use it diluted 1 to 4, that'll do alot of cleaning and last quite a while. Or like what I did here was use P&S Brake Buster in a foam cannon. it was just more efficient because I was also washing the car. 

  • Brushes: Lots of brushes. Soft, stiff and also the wheel brush for getting into the barrel of a wheel should be used to reach spots other brushes cant get to. Use these all on the textured plastics and in the tight areas. Detail Factory makes some great ones I use all over the place and have lasted years.

  • Trash Bag or Two: Or anything that can cover up sensitive components such as the alternator, air intake, and electrical connections from water and cleaning products.

  • Dressing / Protection: The final touch that'll add some luster to the black plastics. I like Koch Chemie's MotorPlast or Meguiar's Hyper Dressing both leave a nice satin finish that is dry to the touch and it's as simple as spray it on the wet engine right after cleaning and let it do its thing; no need to buff it off. Trust me, that's what you want, the days of high gloss oily dressing are over, and it's better for everyone.

Professional detailer removing debris from dirty engine bay

THE PROCESS

Lets talk about the steps on how to detail your engine bay. Here's what it looks like.

1. Preparation is Key: Before diving into the detailing process, it's essential to prepare adequately. Start by allowing the engine to cool down completely. Working on a hot engine can not only be dangerous but also compromise the effectiveness of the cleaning products.

2. Protect Sensitive ComponentsAvoid soaking sensitive parts of the engine with water, especially the alternator or any electrical units. If you have an older engine, or are very concerned about water, you can cover any sensitive parts in a plastic bag, tin foil, or saran wrap, but most modern engines can handle a light spray of water with no issue. In a modern plastic filled engine, adding protection from light water spraying may be unnecessary. However, older engines should be protected from water sprays, including alternators, wires, fuses, or anything electric, just for piece of mind

3. Remove any leaves or debris: Getting these out of the HVAC vents or hood jambs by hand before they get soggy from the next step.

Professional detailer removing leaves from a dirty engine bay during cleaning process

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4. Rinse: Lightly spray the engine down with a pressure washer or hose. It's okay to get the engine wet but don't soak one area down for a long time just to stay on the safe side.

 

5. Clean: spray the APC or degreaser to help cut through the grime. You can spray it straight out the bottle or mix it in the foam cannon for some more fun. I cut KC Green Star in the foam cannon 50ml to 700 ml of water. Quickly agitate with your brushes and get into the crevices with your wheel brush for the hard to reach areas.

Professional detailer rinsing engine bay during cleaning process

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professional detailer scrubbing engine bay with brush during car detailing

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Professional detailer cleaning engine bay with brush during cleaning process

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Professional detailer using brush to clean engine bay during detailing process

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6. Final Rinse: Lightly rinse the cleaner away using the least amount of water necessary to remove the suds.

7. Drying: While the engines still wet, spray KC MotorPlast to all the plastics and let air dry. Close up the hood and come back in a couple hours to buff off some the excess. That's it, That easy!

Professional detailer rinsing engine bay with water during cleaning process

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RECONMENDATION

This process should only take 5-10 minutes. You are simply maintaining the engines appearance and this should not be an all day project. I'll do this once a month or every 4 car washes to keep it looking perfect.

It may just be a me but the cleaner something is the better you take care of it. If I ever have to take my car down a mechanic, fingers crossed, and they see how clean everything is maybe they'll treat my car with more care than they will my wallet.

Professional detailer applying dressing to engine bay plastics for a satin finish

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Professional detailer drying engine bay after cleaning process

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Pristine engine bay exemplifying meticulous detailing craftsmanship
Clean engine bay after professional detailing
Immaculate engine bay showcasing professional results
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