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Old 03-19-2005, 06:23 PM   #1
JerryHughes
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Default Engine cleaning at car wash?

Hello,

I understand that you should not use the power washers at your neighborhood car wash to clean your engine, primarily because of the electronics, etc. Should you leave this to a professional only? (A clean engine looks so much better)
Thanks for any reply.

Jerry

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Old 03-19-2005, 06:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

i usually spary some mean green and use the gardenhose sprayer. works pretty well.

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Old 03-19-2005, 06:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryHughes
Hello,

I understand that you should not use the power washers at your neighborhood car wash to clean your engine, primarily because of the electronics, etc. Should you leave this to a professional only? (A clean engine looks so much better)
Thanks for any reply.

Jerry
Don't use a power washer to clean your engine. The high pressure will force water and soap into the Weatherpak connectors. Just use a general purpose degreaser like Simple Green and a garden hose (light pressure) to rinse it off. You should probably cover the coil packs with a plastic baggie or Saran Wrap, because you want to keep that dry and corrosion free.

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Old 03-19-2005, 09:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razorbak
Just use a general purpose degreaser like Simple Green and a garden hose (light pressure) to rinse it off. You should probably cover the coil packs with a plastic baggie or Saran Wrap, because you want to keep that dry and corrosion free.
Just did it this morning and it worked great. Had to use a toothbrush on a couple caked on spots on the head but, aside from that, the Simple Green did just fine.

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Old 03-19-2005, 09:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

I've used Gumout foamy engine cleaner in the past with a garden hose to rinse it clean with good results. Cover the electrics and the air box. Simple Green is something else you could use.

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Old 03-19-2005, 10:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

I use the philosophy that says if you keep it clean you never have to go to stronger methods. I usually rinse the engine and compartment with plain water from the garden hose every time I wash my car. Then I use a blow nozzle on the old air compressor to blow off everything followed up immediately by starting the engine to allow heat to finish it off. I have not had to use any degreasers whether detergent or petrolium based. Only occasionally do I use just soap and water. Because of my regular cleaning, I regularly stay on top of keeping things such as hood hinges, latches, shift linkages etc lubricated.

One other important consideration, it not a good idea to spray cold water on a hot engine.

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Old 03-20-2005, 05:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

It seems pretty universal not to use a high pressure spray at the car wash. I'll try the Simple Green, let it soak for a while then rinse with a garden hose on a cold engine. Can I use the Simple Green everywhere on the engine, down below, on the side of the engine, etc.? I will cover the coil packs but is there anything else, electronically, that I should protect? Thanks everyone for your replies.

Jerry

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Old 03-20-2005, 06:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

I've used a high pressure washer on my engine compartment several times and have never had a single problem. I've also used it when doing work on heavily oil soaked engines. Every used car that goes on the lot has had it's engine pressure washed as well. The only problem we had was when some water got into the plug holes on a Miata. Took a few shots of brake clean and a blast of compressed air to fix. I'd say there is little to no risk involved from personal experience...

Simple green works well. I forget what the detailers use. Some type of 'professional degreaser,' I'm sure. Breathe that stuff in and your lungs feel like they're on fire. Keeps wheels nice and shiney, though. :-) Simple green or some type of engine degreaser sold at any parts store should work fine.

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Old 03-20-2005, 08:30 PM   #9
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

One other area to watch for when hosing off your engine is the throttle cable sheathing. It's not hard to get water into it, even with a garden hose, which will cause a stuck throttle cable if the temps fall below freezing.

We had a spring-like week this winter so I washed my car and decided to hose out the engine too. When it dropped down into the teens the next week, the throttle stuck when I pumped the accelerator after starting. I had to pop the hood, manually retract the cable, and not touch the pedal again until the engine warmed up enough to thaw it out. WD40 sorta helped, but not entirely. Made for several 10 minute idle sessions on the way to work & back home again.

Doug
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Old 03-21-2005, 12:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Other than Electronics, try to avoid spraying water on the battery compartment/tray. There's no drain hole on the tray so water will stay to induce more corrosion.

Has anyone tried the Mr Clean car wash?
I actually like the Mist(Rinse) Setting from its water nozzle and it perfect for engine spraying. Not too strong, but still with great coverage.

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Old 03-21-2005, 01:56 PM   #11
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Hi JDub99SL2,

When you mentioned that you used a high pressure washer to clean your engine, was that at a pay-car-wash or a high pressure hose at home? Thanks,

Jerry

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Old 03-21-2005, 08:30 PM   #12
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

i used the car wash sprayer, but i didnt pull the trigger- that works well

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Old 03-21-2005, 08:40 PM   #13
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Hi micah_sl2,

Good idea of using the car wash but not pulling the trigger! I hadn't thought of that but the yellow-colored car wash's engine degreaser that we have out here in southern California works great. In the past, on another car, I used the car washer's degreaser then used the high pressure spray to clean that off. However, that old Geo Metro would hardly start at the car wash and I had to get a push from a friend to get it started. So I have learned not to use the high pressure spray at those car washes for the engine. But from now on I will use their engine degreaser but I will do as you did and only use the mild spray from the nozzle instead of rinsing the engine off with the full force of the spray. (That'll keep my concrete at home cleaner too) Thanks and have a good one.

Jerry

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Old 03-21-2005, 09:52 PM   #14
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

It's at work... I imagine very similar to the type available at a car wash. I also use the car wash at work, and have never used a DIY car wash before that (other than the driveway) so I am not exactly 100% sure what is available.

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Old 03-22-2005, 03:06 PM   #15
JerryHughes
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JDub99SL2
It's at work... I imagine very similar to the type available at a car wash. I also use the car wash at work, and have never used a DIY car wash before that (other than the driveway) so I am not exactly 100% sure what is available.
Thanks JDub.

Jerry

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Old 03-22-2005, 08:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

These posts causes me to ask me how often are you all cleaning your engine. In my opinion if you want to have a clean engine and engine compartment, the best thing you can do is not allow it to get dirty in the first place. As I said in my post early in this thread, I hose off my engine every time I wash my car at home with the garden hose and then blow it off with compressed air and have done so since I bought it new. It never got dirty. If you don't have an air compressor, you can use a leaf blower, (which is actually reccomended by motorcycle folks because high pressure air can push water into switch housings). Then start the engine and allow the engine heat finish the drying.

If you keep it clean, any time a leak appears, you know it right off. You don't have to wonder when it started or where it is comming from. It is never old so you can see exactly where it is comming from.

The only caution is to avoid degreasers in pulleys and bearings. You can eventually wash the grease and lubricant out of these devices and cause premature failure. That is another reason I use only water on a regular basis. If you do it every time you wash the car, you really don't have to depend on solvents and degreasers. I also regularly lubricate the shift links on the transmission, the hood latch and throttle cable and hood hinges.

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Old 03-23-2005, 11:52 AM   #17
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

My engine has NEVER been cleaned('94) . She has not needed it. It is my belief that if there are no oil leaks, then there is nothing for particulates to stick to.

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Old 03-23-2005, 03:10 PM   #18
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Well, actually, I would keep the engine on a brand new car clean but I bought this car with around 93K miles. Even though when I got it a light cleaning was done on the engine, it wasn't thorough and I've been afraid to take it to the car wash because of that experience with my other car not starting after the cleaning. So hopefully, I can get this engine clean "gently" and keep it that way. I understand that taking a car to a professional cleaning service can cost some bucks but I'd rather do it myself and get a good job that I can keep up.

Jerry

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Old 03-23-2005, 10:42 PM   #19
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

One note to add here. Don't ever clean a HOT engine. WARM is fine, but running cold water over a hot engine is just not a good idea, things contract and warp and crack sometimes :-( I start mine up, let it idle for 1-2min, and then soak and spray it. I also recommend Simple Green. The bit of engine heat also helps release some dirt. It actually dries too fast on a hot engine and doesn't have time to penetrate the grease.

Some cars also just get dirtier under the hood than others. Nissan, Honda, and Saturn seems to stay quite clean underhood. Mazda, Ford, Chevy, not so much.

Advantages of a clean engine is less mess when doing repairs, a cooler running engine, and problems are spotted more easily when they occur. I have heard some say that the thin film of road dirt on an engine and associated parts helps keep the hoses and such from deteriorating as quickly, but I'm not sure I beleive this or not. Anyone want to take that stance?

BJ

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Old 03-23-2005, 10:54 PM   #20
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Default Re: Engine cleaning at car wash?

Most of the newer car washes that are do-it-yourself now recycle their water through filter units and they don't want all that oil and engine GUNK residue in their machines.

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