If your car engine came with a wash label like the ones that are found hanging on wool sweaters, it would probably say -‘Hand clean with care, but only if you know what you’re doing.’ Let’s face it, engines are incredibly delicate things. They’re extremely expensive, too. You absolutely do not want to try and clean an engine in the wrong manner. If you do, you’ll probably be found in a pool of tears a week later with a soggy garage receipt in your bunched up fist.
Lots of drivers clean their own engines – it actually isn’t all that difficult. What it is, is intricate and tricky, not to mention extremely dirty and very fiddly, says The Globe & Mail. If you’re not confident mucking about with the insides of your car, hand cleaning really isn’t the right choice for you. However, if you’re familiar with engines and you do your own basic maintenance, you could save yourself the cost of a professional job. Here’s a step by step guide that you can use to learn how to clean your engine.
Step One: Warm up the engine ever so slightly. Try to avoid letting it creep up to its regular operating temperature, but do allow it to run for a couple of minutes if it’s very dirty.
Step Two: It is good manners to move your vehicle to a location where the debris, dirt and oil from the engine won’t cause mischief or damage to other drivers. If there’s a lot of sludge and oil residue stuck in the system, try to make sure that it’s not going to block up any drains.
Step Three: Carefully remove the negative terminal on your car’s battery. Then, remove the positive terminal.
Step Four: Cover any exposed electrical components with a thick plastic bag or a roll of plastic wrap. You do not want these components to come into contact with any liquids, especially water, say the experts at Yahoo.com. If you have an older engine, take extra care when covering the breather and the carburettor.
Step Five: Use a household paintbrush with stiff bristles to clear any debris, dirt or dust that might have collected on top of the engine’s surface. Be gentle, but don’t be afraid to use a little bit of force if the dirt is quite thick.
Step Six: In a bucket, mix a solution of washing up liquid and water – use about 2 cups of detergent for every one gallon of water.
Step Seven: Use the paintbrush to lather this cleaning solution onto the dirtiest parts of the engine. Wet them thoroughly and work the brush into dirty grooves and compartments. Don’t be afraid to let the engine get really wet – it will be fine as long as you have followed the step four to the letter. Once you have finished with the paintbrush, give the engine a quick blast with a garden hose, says WikiHow.com journalist Ben Rubenstein.
Step Eight: Using high quality engine de-greaser, carefully clean the engine block and the metallic parts of the system. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the bottle or container – misuse of these substances can damage your engine.
Step Nine: Give the engine one more rinse with the hose and then let it dry. Remove the plastic that you used to cover the electric components.
Step Ten: Give the engine a chance to recover before you try to start it again. Whilst most engines do have an ignition that will operate with wet plugs, some need a little more time than others to dry out.
It will help you clean your car engine without going in too much trouble. However, we recommend hiring an expert if you are a beginner trying to clean your car engine for the first time.
Carl Leadbeater has been a mechanic for seven years. He can usually be found giving customers bad news or fixing engines in his garage. He recommends Balgores for help and advice on vehicle maintenance.
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