Car Detailing Tips: How to Clean Your Engine and Keep It Clean - MDP

Car Detailing Tips: How to Clean Your Engine and Keep It Clean

Engine - Car

When thinking about car detailing, a lot of people seem to forget that your car’s engine bay needs some love and care from time to time as well. While a clean engine will not get noticed by others, your car detailing should always include making your engine shine and sparkle. This task won’t appear on your car detailing to-do list often because the engine isn’t directly exposed to dirt and debris like other areas of your vehicle, but dust still comes in from openings in the front of your vehicle. Your engine bay will need a good wash from time to time, and here’s how to get the best-looking clean engine!


While picking a day off or a free afternoon is common practice for anyone doing car detailing work, you will want to put some thought into when you clean your engine bay. A bright, warm day will help your engine dry after a good wash, and if there’s a bit of a breeze, that’s even better. More importantly though, you’ll want to make sure your car hasn’t been running recently. If your engine is warm, then a sudden change in temperature might cause parts to contract when hit with cool or cold water, so it’s best to be safe and let your car cool off before you begin!

Car - Schafer's Auto Center

Clean Engine Prep

Before you clean your engine, there are a few parts you’ll want to take out to either clean separately or avoid damage. You’ll want to remove:

  • Plastic covers
  • Negative battery terminal
  • Battery (optional)

In addition to removing these parts, you’ll want to cover up electrical equipment such as the battery (if you left it in), ignition wires, and the engine control unit. If your air intake is open under the hood, then you’ll also want to cover that as well. This step will help you not damage your vehicle while you work on getting a clean engine, and you’ll be able to do a thorough car detailing job!

Degreasing & Wiping

After you have all your sensitive parts removed or covered up, you’ll spray your engine down with your favorite degreasing product. Make sure to cover every inch of your engine! Once your engine is finely coated with degreaser, you will want to wipe down the dirtiest areas. If you do your car detailing work often and already have a relatively clean engine, then this step may not be necessary or take very long, but if this is your first time cleaning your engine, then you may want to take extra time cleaning up those areas with years’ worth of grime! A brush with synthetic fibers may be helpful for particularly tough spots.

Car - Green Star Smog Check

Rinsing & Drying

Now it’s time to break out the hose and see the results of all your hard work! A regular hose will work just fine for this part of the car detailing work. You’ll want to make sure you rinse your engine off from back to front – don’t leave any degreaser behind but be careful around areas with electrical equipment! They might be covered up, but it’s better not to take the risk.

Lastly, you can wipe down any leftover water with a clean microfiber towel. You’ll still need to let your newly clean engine air dry for some time, but this will help remove any dirt or grime you missed the first time around. Once everything is done, just replace every part you removed in the beginning, and you’re done.

Mechanical Engineering - Engine

Don’t worry if you need to repeat any of these steps a few times in order to get a clean engine. Sometimes the built-up grime can be stubborn, especially if you haven’t given your engine a proper cleaning in a few years. Take your time, be careful around electrical equipment, and schedule the next time you will be getting this car detailing work done. Although you will only need to clean your engine once every year or two, making this process a yearly habit will ensure your engine bay stays clean and looks good for your car’s entire lifetime.  

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