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Unread 01-06-2012, 07:44 PM   #1
mmartinelle
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Washing engine bay

Just a quick question, my engine is pretty much covered in mud. It's beyond just using a rag and some water. Can I spray it with a hose or a pressure washer like from a car wash? Obviously not too close to hurt anything. Does hot water vs cold water matter? How should I go about cleaning this?

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Unread 01-06-2012, 08:43 PM   #2
PhatJK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmartinelle View Post
Just a quick question, my engine is pretty much covered in mud. It's beyond just using a rag and some water. Can I spray it with a hose or a pressure washer like from a car wash? Obviously not too close to hurt anything. Does hot water vs cold water matter? How should I go about cleaning this?
I use low pressure only from my garden hose to prevent water infiltration into delicate electronic parts. I spray water to wet the dry mud. Wait for half hour later and spray down some more when the mud is softened. It's a pain to clean out all the mud. Even when you think you clean out everything, you will find more next month or everytime you clean your Jeep.

Also pay attention to the front axle, control arms, and the front drive shaft. Mud that gets into the CV joint will damage it.
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Unread 01-06-2012, 09:45 PM   #3
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Unread 01-06-2012, 10:22 PM   #4
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I'd suggest putting a plastic bag over your alternator and fuse boxes, too.
Personally, I've used a small nylon brush, a garden hose, and simple green.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 01:54 AM   #5
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I power wash it all the time when it's covered in mud. Most of the engine parts have no problem taking a little water. I always put a cloth in the air intake and that's it. You won't hurt the fuse box if you don't aim at it for over a minute or so.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 02:36 AM   #6
smittycm
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I posted this answer to a similar question on another forum... here is my experience.

I paid a company $50 to come detail my engine compartment on my 2005 TJ. It literally took him about 15 minutes to finish the engine compartment. I couldn't believe it. He wanted to clean the rest of my car too as that was suppose to be part of the $50 package, but I had already done the outside and didn't need him to. He felt bad about it taking so little time I think, and nothing against him but I couldn't believe I was being charged $50 for an "engine detailing package" that literally took him minutes to complete.

All he did was start the engine, spray it down with a pressure washer, then he sprayed some sort of cleaner/degreaser (he claimed they pay a local chemist to create it specifically for them, but I'm pretty sure it's just simple green or something similar). He let the cleaner sit on the running engine for about 5 minutes, and then he pressure washed it again. After that last rinse with the pressure washer he uses a long handled sponge to apply some sort of engine and hose dressing (like armor all or something) to all the hoses and wires.

- He left the engine running the whole time until it came time to cleaning
- He didn't cover any wires or electrical component at all... only a plastic grocery bag loosely over the air filter.
- He used full up pressure on his pressure washer

I asked about spraying water all over the engine like that while the car was running. He said that these newer cars all have sealed connections. He simply avoids spraying the alternator, fuse box, and the air intake directly or for long amounts of time, but that's it. He also said using a pressure washer isn't like using a garden hose and that it's considerably less water. The engine came out AWESOME and no electrical issues at all.

I did it myself the next time to my 04 Xterra. First I covered the air filter and the alternator with a loose plastic bag, then I started the engine and sprayed it down with my pressure washer. I then sprayed the entire compartment down with Purple Power and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then I hit it with the pressure washer again. I didn't need to take a soft bristle brush to anything, but I didn't go mudding in my Xterra either. I avoided spraying the alternator directly, but that was it. I didn't cover anything up other than what I already mentioned, I left the Xterra running the entire time, and I sprayed everything else that needed cleaned to include the battery and fuse box. I then used an engine dressing spray I found at Autozone. It comes in a can. You spray it on the entire engine. The metal, hoses, wire, everything. The directions on the engine dressing said to drive for 15 minutes afterwards to help the dressing dry. My engine compartment came out beautiful with zero issues. Looked just like a professional job. The before and after shots were just night and day. Unless you have an older classic automobile I honestly wouldn't worry too much about pressure washing your engine compartment. Just be careful around the air filter, fuse box, and alternator as others have mentioned. I believe the rest of the wiring and everything else under the hood will be fine.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 02:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jos360 View Post
I power wash it all the time when it's covered in mud. Most of the engine parts have no problem taking a little water. I always put a cloth in the air intake and that's it. You won't hurt the fuse box if you don't aim at it for over a minute or so.
Except I use a garden hose with nozzle but first spray engine gunk on it. Been doing that for a lot more years than the OP has been alive and never once had a problem.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 03:26 AM   #8
bobthecatkiller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smittycm
I posted this answer to a similar question on another forum... here is my experience.

I paid a company $50 to come detail my engine compartment on my 2005 TJ. It literally took him about 15 minutes to finish the engine compartment. I couldn't believe it. He wanted to clean the rest of my car too as that was suppose to be part of the $50 package, but I had already done the outside and didn't need him to. He felt bad about it taking so little time I think, and nothing against him but I couldn't believe I was being charged $50 for an "engine detailing package" that literally took him minutes to complete.

All he did was start the engine, spray it down with a pressure washer, then he sprayed some sort of cleaner/degreaser (he claimed they pay a local chemist to create it specifically for them, but I'm pretty sure it's just simple green or something similar). He let the cleaner sit on the running engine for about 5 minutes, and then he pressure washed it again. After that last rinse with the pressure washer he uses a long handled sponge to apply some sort of engine and hose dressing (like armor all or something) to all the hoses and wires.

- He left the engine running the whole time until it came time to cleaning
- He didn't cover any wires or electrical component at all... only a plastic grocery bag loosely over the air filter.
- He used full up pressure on his pressure washer

I asked about spraying water all over the engine like that while the car was running. He said that these newer cars all have sealed connections. He simply avoids spraying the alternator, fuse box, and the air intake directly or for long amounts of time, but that's it. He also said using a pressure washer isn't like using a garden hose and that it's considerably less water. The engine came out AWESOME and no electrical issues at all.

I did it myself the next time to my 04 Xterra. First I covered the air filter and the alternator with a loose plastic bag, then I started the engine and sprayed it down with my pressure washer. I then sprayed the entire compartment down with Purple Power and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then I hit it with the pressure washer again. I didn't need to take a soft bristle brush to anything, but I didn't go mudding in my Xterra either. I avoided spraying the alternator directly, but that was it. I didn't cover anything up other than what I already mentioned, I left the Xterra running the entire time, and I sprayed everything else that needed cleaned to include the battery and fuse box. I then used an engine dressing spray I found at Autozone. It comes in a can. You spray it on the entire engine. The metal, hoses, wire, everything. The directions on the engine dressing said to drive for 15 minutes afterwards to help the dressing dry. My engine compartment came out beautiful with zero issues. Looked just like a professional job. The before and after shots were just night and day. Unless you have an older classic automobile I honestly wouldn't worry too much about pressure washing your engine compartment. Just be careful around the air filter, fuse box, and alternator as others have mentioned. I believe the rest of the wiring and everything else under the hood will be fine.
Wait so you put a plastic bag over your air filter and start your engine? I would assume this would choke out your engine?
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Unread 01-07-2012, 04:39 AM   #9
smittycm
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On the TJ I had one of those open air filter elements by K&N. It was a plastic grocery bag very loosely placed over the air filter just to protect from overspray more than anything else. The engine was only ran for about 10 minutes total while cleaning. Maybe 2 minutes of initial pressure washing, 5 minutes of letting purple power soak in, then another few minutes to rinse off the Purple Power. After the last rinse I pulled off the bags and used an air hose to dry the engine off as best as I could before using the engine dressing spray and going for a drive to do the final drying.

Had I wrapped a freezer bag around the air filter and then sealed it off with a rubber band then I would expect the engine to get choked out, but that wasn't the case. It was a very loose grocery bag that air could still get through. It wasn't an issue... I didn't notice the RPM's increase or any overheating at all in the 10 minutes it took me to clean it off.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 04:40 AM   #10
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Sorry... not sure why it keeps double posting. I'm only clicking the mouse once.

Well, I don't normally reply to my own posts, but since it double posted anyways I'll say that you bring up a great point Bob about not completely sealing off the intake and then running the engine. It's easy to assume most people have a solid understanding of how a car works. You don't want to completely block off the air intake and then try to run an engine. I should also mention that I only very loosely tied the bag around the back of the alternator because of the rotating pulley on the front. Just enough to protect the alternator from overspray just like the air filter. As Jos360 mentions below though, you could probably skip covering the alternator and just don't spray it directly.

Again, I'm assuming folks know how to exercise some common sense when working under their hood with the engine running. You have to be extremely careful. Don't wear loose clothing, necklaces, jewelry, etc. Don't stand on either side and in line with the rotating belts... you get the idea. If you're not comfortable with the engine running, then shut it off; it will probably clean just as well. I can't remember the reason the guy gave me for having the engine running to be honest, but he did have one. He made it sound like it was an important step too.

Last edited by smittycm; 01-07-2012 at 05:06 AM.. Reason: double post
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Unread 01-07-2012, 04:49 AM   #11
Jos360
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Even the alternator would be hurt by a little water. At my other car the alternator is mounted so far underneath the engine that it takes full water load in rainy conditions and even that is no problem. The most fragile parts are sealed and the non-sealed parts are not fragile enough. I wouldn't submerge it while running for more than half an hour, but washing doesn't hurt anything.

Fuse box is completely water sealed and even though power washing it won't improve the quality, just hitting it for a couple seconds will not hurt a thing.

On older cars you only have to watch out for the ignition system getting wet because it won't fire anymore, but thats fixed after drying as well. A carburator is also only fragile through the air intake.

Older fuse boxes might not be sealed so well (anymore) so that is something to look out for.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 12:11 PM   #12
Karl
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I can understand running the engine to dry it, after the cleaning is done. What's the logic for running it WHILE you're washing it?
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Unread 01-07-2012, 12:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl
I can understand running the engine to dry it, after the cleaning is done. What's the logic for running it WHILE you're washing it?
I'm not sure why, but I washed an engine bay once and it was hell getting it started again, ran like crap for the first few minutes.

I've never had that issue if I leave it running. I just make sure I don't spray it if its hot...that causes some expensive problems as well.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 12:21 PM   #14
smittycm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl View Post
I can understand running the engine to dry it, after the cleaning is done. What's the logic for running it WHILE you're washing it?
Haha... I know it sounds a little counter-intuitive. I wish to goodness I had asked him a little more about why. I just remember him talking about some detailing school he went to (didn't know they had those), and how he's been detailing cars like this for twenty years, and keeping the car running was one of the secrets. I have no idea why, but it works for me.
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Unread 01-07-2012, 01:03 PM   #15
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Engine wash

09 JKU Rubicon.
DISCONNECT BATTERY.....Hose engine and compartment down with a garden hose. Spray engine and compartment with a Walmart engine degreaser. Let sit 15 mins. Hose down again. Let sit for 30 mins. Reconnect battery, drive around the block to dry engine and compartment.
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