Engine Cleaning

First, regardless of what you may have heard, there are many benefits to keeping a clean engine. 
  1. It looks better. 
  2. It improves the resale value of the car. If a buyer sees the engine clean, he/she will assume it was well maintained. 
  3. It is more pleasant to work on the car without getting all grimy. 
  4. It will be easier to spot any fresh oil leaks and their sources. 
  5. It helps the engine run cooler - that oily grime actually retains heat. 

I learned the following engine cleaning from an Eagle-1 rep that wrote an article about it in Sports Compact Car magazine. The procedure can give you that "new engine look". However, the following technique involves using water in the engine compartment and I can assume no responsibility for any damage that occurs. Here are the steps I use: 

  1. Protect all electrical components on the engine by covering with plastic sandwich bags and tape or whatever. 
  2. Spray engine metal and rubber surfaces with Eagle-1 Tire Cleaner. PLEASE NOTE that I said "Tire" Cleaner and NOT "Wheel" Cleaner. Although both products exist, they are not the same. Avoid getting the cleaner on painted body surfaces. If you do, clean immediately by diluting with water. 
  3. Scrub particularly dirty, oily areas with a small brush (toothbrush) to loosen the dirt. You will notice that the solution turns blue-ish when it contacts the dirt. 
  4. After the dirt has loosened, rinse away all traces of the solution with running water from a hose. Avoid high pressure which could force water into electrical components or connectors. 
  5. Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes to accelerate the drying process of the engine. 
  6. You will notice that rubber surfaces in particular look white and very dry. Almost as if they are dying for moisture. 
  7. While the engine is still warm, use "Son of a Gun" protectant spray and literally "douse" the entire engine in the solution. NOTE: If I were you, I would try to keep it away from your timing belt. 
  8. Let the engine soak up the protectant for about 1-2 hours. 
  9. All your engine components will look nice, shiny and new. Wipe any excess protectant with a rag. 

I have tried this procedure on several cars and they all have come out looking better than new. The new look lasted a couple of months. Afterwards, additional cleanings were easier since the worst had already been done.

WARNING: On my RX-7 I had a coolant hose and a relatively-new V-belt break a few months after I did this procedure. I don't know if the protectant accelerated their wear. I don't think it would, but I thought I would warn you of the possibility. Again, I assume no responsibility for what happens in your car.

For another approach to engine detailing you can go the the Car Care section or click here.