How to Detail your Engine Bay (Basic)

Discussion in 'Car Detailing Forums' started by fishbonezken, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. fishbonezken

    fishbonezken Senior Member
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    Most modern engines are now electronically fuel injected and have plastic engine covers, this makes engine cleaning much easier compared to older engines with carburetors. I will show you how you can easily clean and shine a modern car's engine bay using only 2 Over-the-Counter (OTC) products.

    This is a quick guide showing you how to quickly get your engine bay looking like new again. This guide is more suited towards modern cars' engine bays.

    So here have have an engine bay that has never seen any soap and water since new. Mileage is about 130,000 KM, it really isn't too bad considering the high mileage. On older cars, you might have engine oil leaking out of gaskets, creating thick black gunks on different parts of the engine. So the Honda engine we have here is relatively easy.

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    Firstly, make sure the engine is cool and the car has not been driven for the past hour or two. Open the bonnet to let it cool out faster if it has been driven. In this guide, I also want to show you that engine cleaning is pretty straightforward and what you basically need is an All Purpose Cleaner/Degreaser, and a rubber/plastic/vinyl dressing. I'm using products that you can buy over the counter as it is easily available for most people. CarPlan polish is for painted surfaces such as under the bonnet (not used here).

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    The KIT degreaser had a strong citrus scent and felt a little bit oily, could be petroleum based (not sure), which is good against really greasy engines. ArmorALL protectant needs no introduction really, a dressing for all rubber and vinyl surfaces.

    Before you start, you can choose to wrap sensitive electronic areas (fuse for amplifiers, etc.), cover any open-pod based air filters and wrap the air intake funnel. Older engines tend to be more sensitive to water in the engine bay, so be more cautious when trying to wash an old engine, if you are not sure, it is best to clean it without hosing water directly on the engine, i.e. spray cleaner onto damp cloth and wipe.

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    Some examples of cleaning and dressing the engine bay in my older posts:

    Honda Accord 1991 Engine Detail
    Perodua Myvi Mocha Silver

    Now let's get started!

    I first rinsed off any loose dirt and grime.

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    Then I washed the surrounding panels with some car wash soap, this layer of soapy water will dilute any degreaser overspray, hence, lowering the risk of the degreaser staining the paint.

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    Spray degreaser liberally on the surface. It is important that degreaser is not left to dry on the surface as most degreasers will leave a whitish residue when left to dry. If your engine bay is mildly dirty, then a strong mixture of car wash soap is sufficient for cleaning, no need for degreasers.

    Spray onto a small section (approx. 50cm x 50cm), and brush that area. I like to clean the edges of the bay first and then work on the larger areas and finally focus on the small and tight areas.

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    Scrubbing the large areas,

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    Getting into the nooks and crannies, you will probably have to resort to using toothbrushes as the big brushes I'm using just do not have the scrubbing power for really old caked on dirt.

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    Remember to work in a small area, rinse off and move on to the next area. There are no shortcuts to getting an engine looking clean, pure manual labour will be very well rewarded, so don't be stingy with the elbow grease!

    After rinsing, it is ideal if you have any kind of blower to remove pockets of water in tight places. A leaf blower is fine, I'm using my wet/dry vac on the blow function. If you don't, then patiently blot off the excess water with any cloth. It's also a good time to wipe off any dirt that you might have missed.

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    With the engine now clean and dry, time to get it back to black! I'm using ArmorALL's updated dressing, which isn't really suitable as it is thicker. If you have the older formula, it would be great, best if you have Meguiar's Hyper Dressing.

    Spray on evenly over the whole engine bay, I put it on a bit too much here.

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    Start the car and close the bonnet and let it idle for about 5-10 minutes.

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    The heat will dry off any remaining water and help the dressing absorb into the rubber and plastic. Open the bonnet and buff off excess dressing with any old cloth. If you left it on for too long and looks uneven, spray some dressing onto the cloth and buff, it should even out into a nice and smooth finish.

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    ...now take a step back and admire your work.

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    That's all for this quick guide, I hope it will help you get your engine bay looking good. Cleaning it is not only for aesthetics but a clean engine will also dissipate heat better, hey, you might even shave three seconds off your zero to hundred timing! *sarcasm, LOL*.

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    Well, thanks for looking and feel free to leave any comments, critiques and questions. Have a great week everyone!
     
    #1 fishbonezken, Jun 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011
  2. BE5RSK

    BE5RSK 5 Year | Silver

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    Nice tidy work bro fishbonezken...
    However, I have got a question. By applying Armor All throughout entire engine bay, don't you think it will make the surface more sticky and end-up more trapped-dust, later on?

    Nevertheless, shiny engine bay you've got there.
     
    #2 BE5RSK, Jun 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011
  3. fishbonezken

    fishbonezken Senior Member
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    Thanks bro BE5RSK! Good point, you are right that it will attract more dust because it is now more sticky/oily. Upside to this is, because the dust will stick to the Armor All dressing and not directly to the surface, you don't have to clean as hard the next time round. Just give it rinse and sponge with some shampoo and you are done.

    Or you can choose to dress it partially, e.g. spraying the Armor All onto a cloth and wiping it on the engine cover, hoses, air box etc., so it's really up to you. :)
     
  4. D7zul

    D7zul Senior Member
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    smart giler

    :biggrin:
     
  5. kc2

    kc2 Senior Member
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    simply irresistible thread
     
  6. Veloc

    Veloc Senior Member
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    Actually, I do think that a beautiful and clean engine bay does add some power... Though I don't understand why :biggrin:. Placebo effect? Hahaha.... Beautiful one Fishbonezken! Looks like from show room especially the plastic parts. The turquoise look really turquoise and the orange really cleanly orange! I believe it will perform closer to a BIG VTEC now...:biggrin:
     
  7. bladerunner

    bladerunner Senior Member
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  8. m|ng

    m|ng Senior Member
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    Nice cleaning ken.
    I've got a question. I've seen in a certain youtube video, the guy recommends coating the metal parts of the engine (body panel, alternator, engine block, gear box, etc) in WD40 (or similar) lubricants. This is to prevent corrosion as the car has been applied with heavy coat of anti-corrosion from the factory, any heavy washing will diminish the coat.

    I've personally tried this and I say it works great. the metal parts look alive and dust wont stick to it so easily. your thoughts?
     
  9. fishbonezken

    fishbonezken Senior Member
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    That sounds logical, I have to give it a try soon, thanks!
     
  10. route

    route Senior Member
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    hi, for the myvi, did u cover up the spark plug area as well?? will the water get in?
     
  11. amirmambo

    amirmambo Senior Member
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    Nice job on the clean up bro..Kinda pumped up to get my bay cleaned up soon :)
     
  12. aizatmx89

    aizatmx89 From Facebook

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    Nice...
    Gud job bro... ;)
     
  13. lameshit

    lameshit 5 Year | Silver

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    Can direct spray water over engine compartment? Because I did the similar steps in the past , the result my spark plug get rusty....
     
  14. vr2turbo

    vr2turbo Moderator
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    Most Japanese cars have no issues with direct spraying of water in engine compartment.
    Please check your individual cars to find out where the ECU is located (for fuel injected cars)
    If it is located inside passenger compartment, then no issue spraying the engine compartment.
    However, try to cover (if have) distributor, open pod air filter.
    For spark plug, actually should not have any problem. After wash, start the car and the heat will dry the plugs. Only problem that can happen is water enter spark plug wire cover. The cover that is plugged to the spark plug, then engine cannot idle nicely. If this happen, just unplug, blow dry and plug back.
     
  15. ayen_s

    ayen_s Senior Member
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    Bro fishbonezken, i really like your post. will definately try it this weekend. My car engine valve cover leaks due to loose screws and look horrible now.
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  16. vr2turbo

    vr2turbo Moderator
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    Better get the gasket or leak fixed first, if not wash clean, oil leak will dirty it again....
     
  17. kc2

    kc2 Senior Member
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    uncle happy to see u

    Welcome to zth detailing
     
  18. vr2turbo

    vr2turbo Moderator
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    Thanks kc.
    Was in the Tyre forum, then browse around.....:biggrin:
     
  19. mcliong1

    mcliong1 Senior Member
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    hi, i would like to ask. In my case, I got alot of grounding cable and voltage stabilizer. It is ok if i just proceed without wrap those things? thanks
     
  20. fishbonezken

    fishbonezken Senior Member
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    Hi MC,

    Better to wrap it since the quality of these voltage stabilizers vary from brand to brand. In the pic below I just lightly wrapped it with some aluminium foil.

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