I’ve heard it said that a clean engine like this is a happy engine. Maybe that means a dirty one is a sad engine. I don’t know about that but what I can tell you is that the engines that we see coming into the repair shops, well the ones that are kept clean over the life of the vehicle, they usually have fewer problems.

Well that’s because of several different things, the primary two, the number one, grease and dirt. The grease especially likes to migrate into wire connectors, sensors and so on overtime. And that leads to check engine lights and performance problems. The other thing is is that grease and dirt acts as an insulator and that makes the engine run hotter which can have an affect on the life expectancy of that engine.

Alright, how often do you do it, well about once a year for most people. That means your going to head off to the parts store and buy the chemicals that you need. Now here’s a big caution. Any chemical that you spray under the hood of the car, must not contain silicone. The reason for that is is that silicone is very durable and can actually go through the intake and out through the exhaust and contaminate the oxygen sensors. Read and follow all the label directions on the container and you’ll probably find there’s gonna be some things that are going to need to be covered up to protect them from water. That means you really don’t want plastic wrap you want baggies, something that is a little heavier and rubber bands to hold them in place. That does a good job. 

Now here’s something that you do not do, you do not use steam to clean an engine. Steam is a vapor, and what you see is something very very different. That steam under high pressure can be forced into wire connectors and wire harnesses. It later condenses back into water and leads to corrosion. Never use steam. 

Now, pressure washers, yes you can use them but cut the pressure way back. For the same reasons, we don’t want to force water into sensors and places where water should never be. What you want to do, the ideal is with a garden hose and an adjustable spray nozzle. Now from there, the next thing, you have to make sure you don’t go afoul of local or state laws or anything like that. Which means you may have to have a waterproof tarp under the car to collect dirt, grease and so on…So that you don’t contaminate the environment. Do it right and you just may have fewer problems with your car throughout its life. 

And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.