Cleaning the Car Engine – How Beginners Can Do a Good Job

Cleaning the Car Engine

Car engines are a complicated fundamental component of every car and to add to that complexion there are different types of engines too. Straight car engines have their cylinders in a line that is parallel to the car, length-wise.

More powerful cars make use of these engines since their setup allows fore more cylinders, hence more power. Inline engines have their cylinders side-by-side, across the engine bay, arranged upright.

The cylinders are perpendicular to the car too which makes for a compact engine.

A flat engine has a horizontal cylinder layout with two rows of cylinders usually facing outwards. Found on supercars and most premium vehicles “V” engines have the cylinders placed in the same “V” formation when you look at them from the front.

The cylinders here are on their side positioned at a 60° angle in two rows facing outwards. No matter the type of engine your car is using, it’s important to keep it clean in order to avoid frequent visits to the mechanic.

How to Clean A Car Engine


disconnect car battery

The first and probably the most important thing to do here is to prepare the engine for the cleaning process. Engine cleaning can actually do more harm than good if you don’t take some safety measures upfront.

These safety measures include disconnecting the battery, covering components of your car’s electrical system and getting rid of debris on the engine.

Use plastic bags or cling wraps to cover wiring and electronics and refer to the owner’s manual for the spark plug inlets.

Make sure your engine has been running for 5 minutes before proceeding to the next step but avoid leaving the engine running for too long as you can burn yourself when cleaning it.


apply the desegregate engine

For this step, you’ll need an engine degreaser in the form of a spray.

Usually, you need to apply the degreaser starting from the bottom of the engine and then work your way up.

This will ensure that you’ve covered the engine completely. You should also read the instructions regarding the use of the product.

When using the degreaser be careful not to get some of it on painted vehicle components as the product can remove the clear coat from the paint.

If you happen to get some degreaser on a painted component make sure to rinse it off with water immediately.

Let the degreaser sit on the engine anywhere from three to five minutes so it soaks in nicely. If your engine is very dirty it’s recommended to let the degreaser sit for the full five minutes, otherwise, three minutes is going to be enough.

Whilst the degreaser is soaking in get a stiff-bristled brush and start scrubbing away grime. Ensure that you are wearing eye protection and gloves. Scrub the engine only if it has large deposits of stuck-on grime. Otherwise, rinse off the degreaser with a regular garden hose – avoid using a high-pressure hose.

If your engine still looks dirty repeat the process again. It’s recommended that you wash your car after you’ve rinsed off the degreaser to ensure that none of it is present on any painted vehicle components.

Make sure you’re using a different bucket for this as well as sponges, rags and towels. Also, make sure to wax areas that have come in contact with the degreaser as this product is also known to make the shine of automotive paint disappear and waxing it restores it.

Cleaning Engine Parts

Engine cleaning requires cleaning engine components separately too. The battery terminals need to be cleaned with a wire brush to get rid of rust. You should also soak the ends of the battery cables in an anti-corrosion chemical. Plastic parts need to be cleaned with a stiff-bristled brush and a sponge – these are usually engine covers and reservoir caps. You can clean them whilst in or out of the engine bay it’s up to car engine

Do not use a steel-toothed brush as it can scratch the plastic. If there is corrosion on the battery because of battery acid you can get rid of it by using baking soda and water.

Thoroughly mix some baking soda with water in a bucket, dip your brush in the mixture and start scrubbing the battery terminals and other areas where battery acid has leaked.

Lastly, you’ll need to finish this type of vehicle maintenance with a brake cleaner in order to break up some leftover grime on the engine. This product will make the grime evaporate but make sure you are using it in an enclosed area as the fumes coming from it are flammable.

This also means that you shouldn’t use brake cleaner when smoking or near a flame. Use this solution by putting the straw that came with it into the nozzle, apply the cleaner and scrub with a hard toothed brush.

Spray once again if you have to and rinse the spot afterwards so there is no brake cleaner residue on the engine.