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How to clean an engine bay

Brought to you by 4x4 Camping & Adventures


This how to guide is brought to you by 4x4 Camping and Adventures.

In another great video from 4x4 Camping and Adventure, learn how to get your engine bay looking great - perhaps even better than it did when your vehicle was fresh off the lot. While you probably already take the time to clean the rest of your vehicle, why not show how much you truly appreciate your car or 4x4 by taking the time to properly clean under the bonnet too?

Learn how to wash your car the right way here.

Learn how to restore your paintwork here.

Learn how to maintain a showroom shine here.

Degreasing your engine bay

Why is it important to clean and degrease your engine bay?

Sure, a dirty engine bay doesn’t mean the end of the world, and how often do you really peek under your bonnet anyway? The thing is, although a little dirt or spilt oil won’t usually do much harm, leaving your engine and engine bay grubby and greasy can cause dramas later on. It can make it hard to spot oil leaks or damage that can accrue when you tackle outdoor adventures in your 4x4. Worse still, it increases the risk of engine bay fires - particularly when oil and other flammable fluids are left to cover exhaust manifolds and the like. Another great reason to wash your engine bay is in preparation for any work you or someone else doing any mechanical or modification work on your vehicle. It is far easier to diagnose faults, replace components or generally work on or under a clean vehicle.

What gear should you use to degrease your engine bay?

4x4 Camping and Adventure recommends grabbing a decent brush - the one he uses is actually designed for cleaning interior and upholstery components, but thanks to its long, soft bristles it seems to work better as an engine bay brush. (Note that there’s a wide range of brushes available at Supercheap Auto, so picking one that can readily reach into all the nooks and crannies under your bonnet should be no trouble at all.) Grab a few cans of degreaser, your garden hose, and depending on how confident you are with your hose, it might be worthwhile to use a bag or a few rags to block off or cover up your intake.

Degreaser

Step 1. Protecting your engine

Remove or block off your air intake, and if your vehicle is petrol, then cover up your exposed electrical components. It's important not to degrease or wet electrical components in your engine bay as this may result in electrical faults when turned on. If you happen to get moisture into these components, use an air hose to push out the moisture, or consider leaving the vehicle to dry for a few hours before starting.

Using degreaser to clean your engine

Step 2. Using degreaser to clean your engine

Liberally apply degreaser to your entire engine - taking care to ensure that your engine is fully cold. Make sure that you are careful not to breathe in the mist, or get it in your eyes - it’s worthwhile wearing goggles and a mask. The main area to tackle is around gaskets, seals, and down the sides of your engine block - especially if you have spilled oil. It may be useful to remove any covers or components that block access to the greasiest and dirtiest depths of your engine. It is also worth getting right down to your chassis rails, cross members and steering components if you can. Let the degreaser sit for at least 5 minutes, and work its magic before moving on to rinsing your engine bay.

Hose off the degreaser

Step 3. Hose off the degreaser

Thoroughly, but cautiously use your hose to wash off all the degreaser. Be careful not to soak electrical components like alternators, coils or fuse boxes. Similarly, it is important that you don’t get water into your intake or airbox - as mentioned earlier, either remove, cover or block your engine’s breathing apparatus with a bag or a few rags.

Reapply more degreaser, and brush

Step 4. Reapply more degreaser, and brush

Now that you have some water on your engine it will be easier to “lather” up the dirtiest areas. Apply some more degreaser and after spraying each component, scrub it with your brush to loosen up the really stubborn grime. Keep applying degreaser and scrubbing away until all the worst muck is free - you might need to have an extra can or two of degreaser handy if your motor is particularly dirty, or if it has sat for a while and allowed oily sediment to harden up.

Rinse engine bay

Step 5. Rinse engine bay

As before, you’ll want to carefully wash away the degreaser and all the dirt that has been loosened. Take your time and make sure you don’t get water in the intake or electrical bits and pieces.

Drying your engine bay

Step 6. Drying your engine bay

If you’ve followed the video from 4x4 Camping and Adventure so far, then your engine bay should be looking spotlessly clean. You might be wondering how you should dry the whole thing. While it’s probably easiest to run a rag or absorbent towel over the engine bay, it won’t necessarily get the water out of all the nooks and crannies. Instead, it is better to air dry your engine first, and then use an appropriate cleaning cloth to finish it off. Many people with 4x4s will have an onboard air compressor already installed, and this can make for a super quick and easy way to dry off your engine bay. Simply attach an air gun to your compressor’s hose, and blast air over the entire engine bay - taking care to get into any areas where the water could sit. Make sure you dry out your intake and any electrical components thoroughly, while you’re at it.

Did you know?

Supercheap Auto offers a wide range of awesome cleaning products online and in-store, including dedicated cleaning sprays and detergents, specialty detailers, and a whole host of different degreasers - in various quantities to suit anything from a quick weekend clean to regular, heavy-duty workshop use.

In addition to the chemicals you’ll need to clean practically any vehicle properly, you can also pick up a massive assortment of equipment and tools that can make taking care of a dirty engine bay (and the rest of your car) a breeze no matter how long that grime has been caked on.

4x4 Camping And Adventure

This guide was brought to you by 4x4 Camping and Adventure.

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