Tips for Steam Cleaning an Engine
Over any period, a vehicle engine will become layered with dirt, dust and grease. This is due to normal daily use. A technique used to remove these nasty elements is to steam clean your engine. Not only will this improve the life of the engine but it will lessen the risk of a fire starting in the engine. Also, anyone coming to look at your vehicle for sale will, no doubt, want to peek under the hood to see the condition of the engine. Even if they know nothing about car engines, they want to see how things look and the better they look, the better it is for you because they’ll know the car was cared for.
The job of cleaning an engine can take about one hour to complete. Really anyone can steam their engine but there are some safety measures you must be aware of.
Check the Manual
Be sure to first read your vehicle maintenance manual for any specific instructions that you must follow regarding engine cleaning. Before you take out the steam cleaner to clean, you want to gather some items together that you will need. The better you prepare for any kind of job like this, the easier it will be.
Since there is the chance that pieces of debris and dirt can fly out while steaming, you will need some clothing to protect your clothes, eyes and a pair gloves in which you can comfortably work in. If there are deposits on the battery terminals, you should also keep a bucket of water with some baking soda nearby to clean it using an old rag.
You must have a place to get rid of the dirty water as it is illegal to simply dump waste water (which has been treated) inside a sewer gutter. You must determine a method to clean the engine so you can easily dispose of the dirty water and properly dispose of it. It would be a good idea to first check with your water provider to find out where it can safely be disposed of.
Degreasing Will Help
To clean up the accumulation of grime and grease in the engine, consider using a degreaser which is citrus or water based. A degreaser which originates from petroleum can be rough on vinyl and rubber pieces inside the engine. Depending on the overall condition of the engine, you should consider if you will use this type of substance. However, it also depends on the type of steam cleaning machine you are using since some are effective on their own as far as removing additional grime and grease.
Some steam cleaners are made to be used inside the home so they might not be as powerful, therefore it may need some type of engine cleansing product to be useful. However, you must read the instructions carefully on the product which you choose and ensure that you do not spill any of the cleanser on any car parts, vehicle circuits, cable junctions, fuse box or sensors in the engine.
Cover Up All Electronics
The most important thing is to cover up all electronics. Try to cover those particular parts to prevent any accidental spill and prevent them from becoming wet which can cause damage. What works great to cover these parts is aluminum foil as you can mold it to get a perfect fit and it does not ruin your view. Plastic and tape works well, too.
You should disconnect the battery – that’s important so we’re putting this note here in bold.
Again you should read your vehicle manual to be sure that you are familiar with any sensitive information.
Start Steam Cleaning
When you are ready to begin steaming, be certain that the engine is cool. If you used the vehicle, be sure to wait at least two hours for it to cool down.
Begin cleaning by using a medium sized brush to loosen dirt and debris (such as grime or dried leaves). Begin using the steamer to clean under the insulation area of the hood, than gradually working your way to the general area of the hood. Spread the engine degreaser product (citrus or water based) to melt any grease and grime off of the engine areas. In some instances in which the engine is very dirty, you wish to apply and second or third layer of this non-petroleum degreaser.
Use the equipment on the steamer to rinse and clean off the dirt and grease. When you are finished steam cleaning, start the vehicle and let it run for a few minutes to be sure it is operating correctly.
Detailing and Finishing Up
Once everything has dried up, it’s good to get out a bottle of Armor All and shine up some of the hoses and plastic parts in the engine compartment. Doing this will make things shine even more.
Touch things up so that you don’t have water spots everywhere. Make it look nice. You don’t have to go crazy and super detailed but your aim is to get the engine bay looking good and look like it was well cared for.
Professional Engine Steam Cleaning Tools
If you will be doing this process a lot or if you own a business where you will be cleaning up cars, there are tools and products that will help you do your job even more efficiently. There are even waterless steam cleaners that don’t require you to cover up electronics.
Even if you’re not getting your car ready to sell, it’s a good idea to get the engine compartment steam cleaned once a year or two. As you can see, you can do it yourself and this makes for a good project on a Saturday afternoon in the late spring or else in the summer. If you live in an area with harsh winters, go ahead and do it every spring for sure. If you think this is too much work, then there are places in your area that will do engine cleaning or steam cleaning. Check with car washes or else car detailers in your area.