There’s nothing more satisfying than popping your bonnet to see an engine that’s clean and pristine. Many drivers are wary of cleaning their car’s engine bay, in case of disturbing or damaging parts, but most modern vehicles are robust enough to withstand a deep clean.
Ready to give your car a bit of TLC? Follow our step-by-step guide to cleaning your engine bay below, and you’ll find all the tips and product recommendations you need to get it gleaming.
What You Need to Clean An Engine
While every engine might look slightly different, the tools and products you need are essentially the same. You can clean any engine bay with the following list of affordable products, all of which are available here at Euro Car Parts.
- Microfiber towels
- Synthetic brushes and metal wire brushes (or a toothbrush)
- Cleaning wipes
- Soapy water / degreaser
- Pipe cleaners
- Vacuum cleaner
- Trim restorer
- Plastic bags
For a more detailed breakdown of the best products for cleaning your engine, take a look at our guide.
Step 1: Prepare The Engine
It’s safe to clean your engine while it’s either cold or warm, but a warm engine does make it slightly easier to loosen dirt and debris. If you do choose to clean your engine while it’s warm, just make sure it’s cool enough to comfortably place a hand on the intake before you get started. Don’t forget – you should never put cold water on a hot engine – the change in temperature can cause engine parts to crack.
Step 2: Remove The Battery and Cover The Engine
By removing the battery, you can protect any electrical components from getting damaged while you clean. Similarly, you can protect the engine by covering it with something like a plastic bag, and keep water away from any other sensitive parts – such as the ignition wires or engine control unit.
During the cleaning process, you should also make sure you don’t get any water on the alternator, distributor, in the engine oil or on the spark plugs. You should also keep the brake and power steering reservoirs dry.
Step 3: Dry Clean All Surfaces
Now you’ve protected the vulnerable parts of your engine, you can start with a dry clean. Using a vacuum cleaner and a handheld synthetic brush, gently dislodge as much dust and dry debris as you can from your engine bay. If the intake needs cleaning too, use a metal wire brush, or a rotary tool.
Step 4: Wet Clean The Outside Of The Engine Bay and Bonnet
Once you’ve finished your dry clean, you can take your hose and wash down the inside of your bonnet, as well as the outside of the engine bay. Avoid using a high pressure setting, so you don’t damage any of the electrical connections we mentioned earlier. Next, use cleaning wipes to remove dirt from the larger engine parts, before giving them another rinse with the hose to wash away any residual grime.
After that, take a soapy water solution or a degreaser, and spray it around the painted surfaces, before wiping clean with a soft microfiber cloth. To access the tighter parts of the engine, you can use a brush or a pipe cleaner – but once you’re satisfied you’ve got most of the gunk, you can give it all a final rinse.
Step 5: Clean The Engine
At this point, you can remove the plastic bag from the engine. Get your cleaning wipes and go over the engine to wipe away as much grease and oil as possible, then go over the area with a brush, using soapy water or your degreaser spray. You might need something smaller like a toothbrush for any areas which are especially hard to reach. When the engine looks clean to you, go over it with a microfiber cloth to dry it off completely. Don’t use a hose to clean the engine as the water will damage it.
Step 6: Detail The Engine
So you’ve cleaned the engine bay – now you can have some fun restoring it. Use a fabric dye to correct any discolouration of the hood liner, and spray wax to clean around the hood too. For any rubber or plastic surfaces, you can use a water-based trim restorer, which protects these materials – but don’t use any greasy products in this area. You can even use a paint marker in the right colour to bring faded lettering on your engine parts back to life.
Finally, put your battery back in, take a step back and admire the results! Your engine should now be squeaky clean and looking sharp.
Need a hand finding the right products for your specific make and model? Visit your local Euro Car Parts branch and speak to one of our friendly team members, or head over to our online shop, where you can find (and order) over 130,000 affordable parts, from industry-leading brands.
For more expert tips, advice and product reviews, take a look at our other articles here on the Euro Car Parts blog.