Engine Grease Removal

Hosing off baked-on under-hood crud

We all know how hard it is to keep dirt and debris off the outside of our vehicles, but there's one essential part that often gets neglected. Ironically it's the very thing that enables you to keep making a mess of your vehicle in the first place. This thing is under the hood. This thing is your engine. Here is an easy how-to guide to degrease your engine in a few simple steps.


Despite the fact that the engine rides around seemingly protected by a hood made of steel, it rides exposed to the same elements as the underside of your vehicle. All the muck and crud that gets stuck there gets stuck to the engine too.

The engine does a good job of making crud of its own. Drive belts and clutches make dust as they wear out. Tires and brake pads are also expert dust producers. Engine heat combined with combustion vapors turn this gunk into a crusty baked-on coating. While engine grime may look intimidating, its looks are deceiving. Cleaning up your engine bay is a snap thanks to the miracle of modern chemistry.

More Than Skin Deep

The benefits of keeping the outside of your vehicle clean are obvious to the eye. While there are also obvious visual benefits to a clean engine, there are also a few added bonuses to getting rid of engine grime. An engine caked in crud can run hotter than it should. All that crud acts like spray-on insulation, and keeps combustion heat from escaping through the metal the engine is made from. A second and less obvious benefit is equally important.

An engine caked in crud can run hotter than it should.

Wet, greasy, crud concentrated in a few spots on the engine may be a sign of an oil, coolant, or even fuel leak. Cleaning off the collected debris can help determine the type and source of the leak, and assist you or your mechanic in making repairs. Another plus to eradicating caked on engine crud is actually being able to see the "full" and "add" lines on the brake fluid, power steering, and coolant reservoirs in order to keep tabs on fluid functions.

Goodbye Grime

To clean the engine and engine bay, park the vehicle on a level surface and warm up the engine. Set the parking brake and turn the engine off. The same engine heat that baked on all the crud, will help the degreaser to get it back off. WARM is the word here. Never spray degreaser, water, or anything else on a hot engine. Open the hood and locate any electronically sensitive parts where water may cause more harm than good. These areas should be protected from heavy water spray. Distrbutor caps, ignition coils and modules, or anything else that looks as if it will quit if soaked are all good candidates for protection.

Next, look for the end of a snorkel coming off the intake air box. This is not a good place for water to go. If the snorkel is in the line of spray, protect it from water. Plastic grocery bags work well for water deflection. The most important part of degreasing the engine is to let the degreaser do the work. Allow enough time for the combination of heat and modern chemistry to work together to work loose, built up crud. This usually amounts to about 15 minutes. The results will be worth the wait.

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