Engine Detailing Tips for Beginners

If you’ve ever popped the hood on your vehicle, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a mess. Dirt and dust build up over the years, often sealed to exposed surfaces by layers of grease. Engine detailing is the only way to eliminate all those contaminants, and it isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Cover Sensitive Parts

Water isn’t dangerous for most of your vehicle’s engine bay, but it can damage a few key parts. Grab a box of Saran wrap and a roll of masking tape before you begin. Use the plastic wrap to cover any vulnerable car parts that you don’t want to get wet. These might include:

  • Vehicle Alternator
  • Alarm System Housing
  • Exposed Electrical Plugs and Cords
  • Air Control Valves and Intake System

Use your vehicle’s manual to find all these components (as well as any others specific to your car’s make and model). If you’re nervous about this step, consult with a mechanic before you attempt engine detailing the first time.

Start Safe

Always begin detailing a vehicle engine with a cold engine. Use a soft stream of water from your garden hose to cool down the engine bay so you can work safely. Avoid pressure washers or other high-pressure devices because you can crack or chip delicate engine parts. Heavy streams might also dislodge the wrappings you’ve secured around sensitive areas.

Degrease the Engine Compartment

A heavy-duty degreasing agent is the most important tool in your arsenal. Use it to eliminate grease from all exposed areas of your engine bay, paying special attention to fluid holders and all hoses and tubes. After you’ve applied degreaser, use the garden hose to spray off the film.

For hard-to-reach areas, choose a detailing brush with nylon or microfibre bristles. This will allow you to reach into areas where your hand won’t fit, and will also work the cleaning agent into stubborn stains. Use microfibre towels to dry all the engine components after you’ve cleaned them.

Polish or Seal the Job

After you’ve cleaned the engine, use a sealant or protectant to seal out future contaminants and add a touch of shine to the finished product. Choose a paint sealant for surfaces coated in paint and a plastic or rubber sealant for everything else (such as the hoses).