One area in the detailing process that is easy to overlook is the engine bay, but when it’s detailed it looks damn good! When detailing the engine bay there are some simple steps you can follow to yield amazing results. Here we break those down for you.
A quick note before we get started: Never spray down a hot engine. Cold water on a hot engine is a bad mix. If you have been driving, please let the engine cool completely before beginning the washing process.
Open the hood of your car or truck and do a quick inspection to determine the condition of the engine bay. Is it just dusty or is there dirt and grime build up like the photo below? Is there grease or oil all over the place? If it is just dusty you may be able to use a damp microfiber cloth and wipe it all down. If there is dirt and grime build up you will likely need to wash the engine bay. Use a general all purpose cleaner (a little car soap may do the trick too). If it is greasy you will likely need a safe engine bay cleaner to break down the grease and oil (hopefully this is not the case as you may have bigger problems than a dirty engine bay!).
Identify the location of the fuse block and any sensitive electronic equipment. As a precaution you will want to cover these areas with a small trash bag. If you have an air intake you will want to cover that as well. From here, grab the necessary tools for the job:
- Shop vac
- Detailing brushes
- Microfiber cloth for cleaning and a few for drying
- General all purpose cleaner or car soap
- Hose (or pressure washer) with spray nozzle.
Before the washing process begins we recommend grabbing your shop vac to remove debris that is typically collected in the fender and hood jams between the windshield and engine bay.
- Assuming your engine bay needs more work than just a quick wipe down, grab your hose with spray nozzle or pressure washer and lightly spray down the engine bay. You do not want to drench the engine bay with water. Just a light spray is all that is needed.
- Spray the general purpose cleaner or car soap throughout the engine bay and let it sit for a few minutes to break down the dirt and grime.
- Grab your detailing brushes and or microfiber towel(s) and agitate the areas to be cleaned.
- Once all areas have been scrubbed/agitated, lightly rinse the engine bay again and watch the dirt and grime fall off!
Remove the plastic bags you used to cover up the sensitive electrical components. Grab a microfiber towel and dry the engine bay as best you can wiping down all the jambs, underside of the hood, engine cover, around the top of radiator, etc. You can also use compressed air to help dry. The sensitive electrical equipment can be wiped down to remove the dirt and grime.
Now that the engine bay is mostly dry, grab your favorite tire and trim dressing and wipe the the plastic parts to a nice luster. Finally, after you have finished detailing your ride, hop in it and take it for a spin to finish drying out the engine bay as its impossible to get every nook and cranny dried. The air passing through the engine bay coupled with the heat of the engine as it gets up to temperature should dry it out well.
How often should you wash the engine bay? After completing the process described above, we recommend doing a regular maintenance wipe down throughout the year when you wash your car or truck (check out our Washing & Drying Tips ) so you are not constantly spraying the engine bay down. However, there will likely be a couple times during the year when you will need to go through and do a complete engine bay detail due to dirt and grime build up in areas you can’t get to with a simple wipe down.
There you have it. Follow these simple steps to have an amazing looking engine bay to complement your freshly detailed ride!
We hope your detailing experience is amazing!