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Engine Bay Detailing 101 - L9 Detailing and Paint Correction

Most people don't look under the hood unless there is a problem. Your engine is the most neglected part of your car when it comes to detailing. I have detailed many good-looking automobiles making them shiny and new, but take a look under the hood and it seems as if you're looking at a different car. Engine bay detailing removes many years and thousands of miles of dirt and crime. When you look under the hood you may say to yourself "Where do I start cleaning". Here you will find some guidelines and good practices for Engine Bay Detailing.

There are many good reasons to clean your engine. It doesn't take much time for your engine to get covered in dirt, grime, and oils. There are many road contaminants that find their way onto your engine, such as grease, oils anti-freeze, salts, dirt, and water helps make a nasty mix that is corrosive to engine components. Cleaning it makes sure that dirt and other contaminants don’t accumulate within or around components that are important to the function of your car. Dirt tends to cause components over time to fail prematurely.

Another reason and benefit of cleaning your engine bay are it allows you to keep an eye on any problems such as oil leaks, water leaks, burned or frayed wires and, corrosion. A clean engine also helps maintain your vehicle’s resale and trade-in value.

Here is my step by step process.

Equipment and Consumables: Engine degreaser of your choice, Water hose with a spray nozzle, Plastic shopping bags, Drip pan, Soft Wash brush, Terry and microfiber cloth towels, Plastic dressing of your choice, and compressed air or leaf blower.

  1. Slightly warm engine not too hot to touch.

Warning: if your vehicle is from the 1990s or older. Pay particular attention to electrical components, air intakes, and fuse boxes they are not protected from water and moisture as newer vehicles.

2. Protect components from water by wrapping them with plastic. Protect items such as the alternator, fuse boxes, air intakes.

3. Disconnect the positive battery terminal.

4. Put down some drip pans and absorbent pads so that the chemicals you’re using don’t get everywhere.

Note: When cleaning the underside of the hood avoid getting water onto the fabric heat shield. Water may cause damage to this material.

5. Start with cleaning the hood with an all-purpose cleaner of your choice. Don't let your chemical dry. Make sure you are rinsing as you clean each section.

6. Break the engine down into 4 equal squares. This process will help you control and manage your cleaning process and keep chemicals from drying on engine surfaces.

7. Make sure you don’t spray too much water around the fuse boxes, coil packs, air intakes, and alternator. Wet the first section of the engine that you are going clean.

8. Add your degreaser and let it sit on the surface area to be cleaned per manufacture instructions. Apply heavier concentration in the oiliest areas. Typically you will want to allow the degreaser to sit for several minutes so that it reacts to the grease and grime.

9. With the use of soft brushes work the degreaser into the oil and dirt. Using low water pressure, rinse the area of degreaser and oil. You may need a second application to remove any residual oil and dirt.

10. Continue this process on each section. Using low pressure to rinse everything. Then remove the plastic bags from the components you were protecting, since there won’t be any more big splashes of water. Reconnect the positive battery terminal.

11. Using a leaf blower or pressurized air, blow out excess water from the engine compartment

Then start your engine until it reaches the typical temperature of operation. This will aid in the drying process.

12. Let the engine cool to the touch and apply your engine dressing to all plastic parts. This isn’t required but can make your engine look especially great. It adds shine and will round out the process of making your engine bay look absolutely as good as new.

13. Choosing the right product can make this whole process a lot easier and more effective.

How Often to Clean your Engine Bay

It really depends on where you live, what the weather’s like, and the type of driving conditions.

In general, for those who live in locations with low snowfall and low dust levels, and driving on highways a cleaning just one or two times per year will suffice. However, drivers living in areas with harsher weather conditions (particularly locations with lots of rain, snow, and dust exposure) will want to clean their engine bay as often as twice a month in the winter.

In closing

It's pretty easy, and certainly a good idea to do on a regular basis.

It will keep your car in top-notch condition, allowing it to cool more efficiently and preventing damage to components while also letting you get to know and keep an eye on your engine bay in case any issues arise.

Plus if you ever have maintenance is done on your engine a mechanic will pay closer attention to the quality of work.

Remember if you decide to trade-in or sell your vehicle. I'm sure you will get a better price, due to your engine looking well maintained. Just an added note, keep all maintenance records on your vehicle. This will also help show the condition of the vehicle.

I will be soon sharing this process on Youtube and Facebook in the near future. So take a little time to visit and get more information.


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