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cleaning engine bay

flight1us

Ready to race!
Location
NYC
hey guys im sure its been asked a million times .... but any tips on washing engine bay these cars are really sensitive electronically so any help is greatly appreciated.
 

sandmangti

Go Kart Champion
Most cars can be washed.
The engine is an open area with a grill that lets water in during the rain.
But you can take some precautions.

I will cover the small electrical box and alternator with aluminum foil. Why foil?
It is water proof and easy to mold around the object.
I use snow foam and spray the under hood and engine. Move around from side to side of the car to shoot from different angle into the engine. Then use a detail brush to agitate as many areas as you can. Also use micro fiber cloth for under hood and larger areas and hoses in engine. Then rinse with fine spray. 2000 psi power washer with 45 deg tip is good, just stay back 2ft. You can also use garden hose sprayer on fine mist. Once rinsed, remove foil and with damp micro fiber wipe of the fuse box cover. I then start engine right away and use my Chemical Guys blower to blow down the engine. Say clear of moving items and watch cord. Once dry, stop engine and let it cool some if hot. Then spray down with a detailer spray. I find 303 interior detailer works well. Pick one that will not be thick and greasy like tire shine. I found the thick stuff collects dirt and dust and then looks bad. Spray down the engine with the 303 and let sit a minute. Work in with clean detailer brush and then wipe excess off and smooth out with clean micro finer. Engine will then looks great.
Once a year will be good in clean area's a good time to do is after winter is over. If you are on a dirt road, clean more often and good luck. There are other engine detailers, just looks for one with a light matte finish. The wet look is nice but will look dirty in a few week.
 

2012TP

Go Kart Newbie
Location
LI.NY
I use Griots citrus multipurpose cleaner and agitate with a brush. It comes in an aerosol can so couldn’t be easier. Cheap, too. Under $5 I believe.
 

mkv_martinez

Go Kart Newbie
Location
USA
I will cover the small electrical box and alternator with aluminum foil. Why foil?
I tried the foil route, but then a buddy pointed out I am using something conductive to cover electronics while spraying it with water - after that I switched to saran wrap/plastic bags

As for the original question, I cover most of the easy to access connectors and obviously the intake/alternator when washing my bay. I know the connections are watertight, but for an extra 5 minutes of work I can be sure I am not squirting water into the back of the connector or anything either. Peace of mind.

I attached a pic highlighting the areas I tend to cover with a part of a plastic bag - i'll rip a bag into shreds and just tie it around a bit. Since the connection is already water tight, you are really just kind of shielding it from direct streams of water; so you don't have to go crazy covering every last inch up. There are also a few on the rad you can cover - once thats done you can pretty much wash the bay down however you'd like. I almost always use a power washer from 3-4 feet away, i've used garden hoses as well though.

I usually use an auto-detailing All Purpose Cleaner diluted and just go over the whole bay with some brushes; I've also used the gunk engine degreaser ; which is great at cutting through any thicker stuff

EngineBay - Copy.png
 

mkv_martinez

Go Kart Newbie
Location
USA
I use Griots citrus multipurpose cleaner and agitate with a brush. It comes in an aerosol can so couldn’t be easier. Cheap, too. Under $5 I believe.
Shouts out to the Citrus Multi Surface Cleaner. Stuff is killer. I use to to clean off sticker residue or oil/grease all the time. I also use it to clean off my RC cars - spray it down and use compressed air to blow it dry. So versatile and useful.

I think Purple Power or one of those brands has a foaming spray now as well, I usually stay away from aerosols but the foaming All Purpose Cleaners are pretty damn useful
 

AM407

Ready to race!
Location
AB
I’ve never done anything special - no tin foil or plastic bags - I just don’t use high pressure and am careful not to point the spray at anything too sensitive. I’ve never had an issue.

I like Simple Green Pro HD (the purple stuff, safe for aluminum.) I’ll spray the entire engine bay and let it sit for a minute. Never bothered with brushes. I do it at the wand wash and then rinse everything with the spot-free rinse. It comes out at lower pressure, and doesn’t leave spots.

Works great, and takes no time at all. But I’m not obsessive about having a sparkling engine bay, just like to keep it tidy.
 

Phur

Autocross Newbie
Location
IN
Car(s)
2013 VW GTI Autobahn
I use ONR, a flag-tip brush and a few detailing brushes. I dry what I can with a microfiber just for the engine bay and use compressed air to help out as well.
 

gijoewoz

Go Kart Newbie
Location
Aurora, CO
These cars aren't any more sensitive than any other car. There are very few risks with cleaning the engine bay, don't power wash the fusebox without the cover, and don't aim high pressured spray at specific electrical components. Besides that, everything can handle getting a bit wet.

Start with the engine as cool as possible, spray some purple power, simple green, or some other degreaser all over the grimy bits, let soak a bit, agitate with a brush, then hose off. Repeat in areas that need more work. Wipe dry, and use a plastic detailer if you want.

Be careful of the heat blanket on the hood, it will soak up a lot of water, and get heavy. The weight will ruin the tabs that hold it in place, and it will start to sag.

Besides that, go to town.
 

Gr8N0rthW0lf

Ready to race!
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Car(s)
2010 GTI
I tried the foil route, but then a buddy pointed out I am using something conductive to cover electronics while spraying it with water - after that I switched to saran wrap/plastic bags

As for the original question, I cover most of the easy to access connectors and obviously the intake/alternator when washing my bay. I know the connections are watertight, but for an extra 5 minutes of work I can be sure I am not squirting water into the back of the connector or anything either. Peace of mind.

I attached a pic highlighting the areas I tend to cover with a part of a plastic bag - i'll rip a bag into shreds and just tie it around a bit. Since the connection is already water tight, you are really just kind of shielding it from direct streams of water; so you don't have to go crazy covering every last inch up. There are also a few on the rad you can cover - once thats done you can pretty much wash the bay down however you'd like. I almost always use a power washer from 3-4 feet away, i've used garden hoses as well though.

I usually use an auto-detailing All Purpose Cleaner diluted and just go over the whole bay with some brushes; I've also used the gunk engine degreaser ; which is great at cutting through any thicker stuff

View attachment 180382
Disconnect and remove the battery before hand. Put a garbage bag over top of the block, maybe over the air intake as well. This will cover off all the parts you have highlighted from water during spray phases. Clean underside of hood first. Spray with water first, then use spray bottle with soapy water and brush to target dirty spots. Do same thing around edges of the bay. Carefully remove garbage bag, you can dump the water towards the front of the bay if you want just avoid the alternator maybe. For anything under the garbage bag, can go over after with light soapy water spray and rub down with microfibre cloth. Just make sure you dry out any left over water from areas around electronics.

As others have said, engine bays are meant to get wet. They are exposed from underneath and front to water, spray and snow. You don't have to worry that much about the electronic connections, so long as you remove the battery. Just avoid using high pressure spray or leaving a lot of sitting water after
 

MrFancypants

Autocross Newbie
Location
ATL
Car(s)
CW '10 GTI, 6MT
As someone that has done a wiring harness repair.... don’t be so worried, the electrical plugs are designed in a way to keep the wiring shielded from water. As long as you avoid drilling any one spot with a power washer, don’t drown the alternator, keep water out of the spark plug holes, and disconnect the battery there’s little to no chance that you‘ll damage anything.
 

1ashchuckton

Autocross Newbie
Location
Ohio
I agree with what MrFancypants has said. Although I question the need to disconnect the battery. My car has a cover over the battery & I can't see how water could ever affect it. I've cleaned many engines over the years & haven't disconnected a battery yet.

I always clean my engines. with a little here & there cleaning so no heavy duty cleaning is needed. Pretty sure using a power washer could cause a lot of damage. As Fancypants says, even a weather pack electrical connection could have water forced into it.
 

MrFancypants

Autocross Newbie
Location
ATL
Car(s)
CW '10 GTI, 6MT
I agree with what MrFancypants has said. Although I question the need to disconnect the battery. My car has a cover over the battery & I can't see how water could ever affect it. I've cleaned many engines over the years & haven't disconnected a battery yet.

I always clean my engines. with a little here & there cleaning so no heavy duty cleaning is needed. Pretty sure using a power washer could cause a lot of damage. As Fancypants says, even a weather pack electrical connection could have water forced into it.
It's not so much to protect the battery from getting wet, it's in the off chance that you get water into something that has battery power flowing to it (like the ABS electronics mounted to the firewall). But then again, if you're not using a pressure washer there probably isn't much of a chance of this happening anyway.
 
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