A lot of people are amazed at how clean I keep my engine. When I wash my car, I wash my engine. Who wants to work on a dirty car or clean BMW with a dirty engine compartment? It's easier to spot any loose blots, leaks, or broken wires when the engine is clean.

About 30 years ago, a friend of mine showed me how to wash my engine when I washed my car, so I have been doing this for a long time. Let's face it, every engine should be able to handle a little bit of water or it shouldn't be driven in the rain.

I usually use a local coin operated car wash-the ones with a pressure washer type hose. Who wants to drag out a bucket and hose in the middle of winter? I live in Wyoming not southern California. I figure it is better to get the car clean than let the salt and mud remain on the car.

The first thing I do is look my car over. Look for any really dirty areas-under the rocker panels, in the wheel wells or along the front air dam. In the engine compartment, look for any greasy spots around the front bearings, valve covers or oil filter. These are the areas you need to concentrate on. However, if you don't get it all clean the first time, don't worry, you'll get it the second or third time. And after you get it clean, you'll probably only need to do it on occasion unless you live on a dirt country road.

While you are looking in the engine compartments, locate your distributor cap, spark plugs, spark plug wires, starter and generator as well as any sensitive decals or paper labels. These are the parts you need to stay away from with any direct spray. I usually never use any more than the minimum time to wash the car and engine. The secret is to keep moving and hold the spray tip about 6 inches away from what you are washing.

Spray in a straight pattern from side to side, from bottom to top. Just like you were spray painting the car. Go around once or twice on the wash cycle, then switch to the wax cycle for the remaining wash. It puts a little bit of silicone on your paint, plastic, and surfaces. Never use the brush. You can never tell how much dirt and grit is left in the brush from the person before you who washed a four wheel drive truck.

When I'm through I wipe everything down with clean chamois or towel. The only problem I have ever had trying to get a car restarted is when the spark plug wires are bad. Believe me, if the wires are bad enough to arc with a little bit of water, they need to be replaced anyhow. You might save yourself some aggravation and replace them if they are older than 5 years. When you're done, spray and let it air dry. After that is dry, then buff everything down with a soft rag. So the next time you clean your car, try cleaning your engine compartment.
Your mechanic will thank you.

Author: Gene Palen
Rocky Mountain Chapter