Older vehicle owners, do you clean the engine?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by haggardfan1, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

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    And if so, what do you use?

    I've been using orange cleaner or Purple Power but I haven't done mine in a year or more. It's a 2007 silverado classic and although it doesn't consume a significant amount of oil between changes, I see significant crud on the front and sides of the engine. I bought a can of Gunk and plan to clean it in the morning before I drive anywhere.

    My girlfriend's car is a 2014 Pathfinder and the so-called organic cleaners work fine under the hood, because her only issue at this point is road dust.

    What do you folks do?
     
  2. Hey_you

    Hey_you Tele-Holic

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    Yes. I got to a carwash, pop the hood and have a go at it. Be Careful! Won't start if ya get the wrong part wet. I avoid that by keeping the engine running. I often hit it before taking it in for repairs. I have never heard it said, but I bet the mechanic likes it.
     
  3. MarkieMark

    MarkieMark Tele-Afflicted

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    I'll let you in on a few little secrets. :eek:

    What we really like is when we find your car in the parking lot, unlock it and the alarm goes off, and we cant start the car because you didnt consider we might need the key fob.
    Then once that obstacle is hurdled, we proceed to road test the car in an attempt to duplicate your concern, only to find the low fuel light is on and the gauge is well below E.
    But its OK, the gauge doesnt work and we need to access the fuel pump module right under the rear seat where the three child seats are securely strapped in and glued in place with two years worth of baby food, spew and candy wrappers.
    But the good news is that now that is remedied and we are going to want to verify it with a road test. With the windows down so the combination of the console used as an ashtray and 47 christmas tree air fresheners only makes us moderately nauseous.
    But we still cheerfully agree to add a tire rotation and brake inspection at no charge despite the search for the wheel lock key involving sifting through a two foot layer of fast food drive thru trash remnants obscuring the glove box, where the key is not to be found. And the collection of personal items I wont even mention in the console, where the key is not found.
    But good news! We go to search the trunk and there is only three golf bags, seven umbrellas, fourteen pairs of shoes, one smelly gym bag and three clearly previously worn womens outfits, two bathing suits that appear to still be damp from last summer, some form of groceries that are no longer identifiable. A large bag of used shop rags, assorted wax and car care products, and two beach chairs....

    But yeah. A clean engine IS a nice touch.
     
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  4. rz350

    rz350 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    No, dirty on the outside is fine, unless its air cooled...
     
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  5. Treehouse

    Treehouse Tele-Meister

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  6. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

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    Not applicable, but I sure appreciate this. I think?
     
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  7. Hey_you

    Hey_you Tele-Holic

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    Um, now if feel kinda different. None of this applies.
     
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  8. Stubee

    Stubee Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Nope, I don’t. My Mustang is a ‘95, bought my Tundra in 2009. I did wipe off the easily accessible parts of the Mustang once during a brief guilt attack. The Tundra sees so much dust from dirt roads and mud from all kinds of places that it’s the exterior I pay attention to.

    The only engine I’ve ever cleaned is on my old Deere LX176 lawn tractor. I used it like a dump truck and it finally started smoking some, and as it blows it out the exhaust in front the residue got in the fins and then gathered layers of dust when I’d bag leaves that laid all winter in dirt. I’m talking a lotta leaves and dust clouds so thick they turn my face pretty dark. It overheated a couple times in hot weather so I did the full degrease, brush and rinse to pretty good effect. I also did a crude valve cleaning with direct Seafoam. Five+ years later it’s still running, smoking a bit from leaky valves but does yeoman’s work when called upon.
     
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  9. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

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    It was a rather extreme response. This truck is the only new vehicle I've ever owned. I've kept the exterior, interior, and maintenance up as best I knew how, and many call my 13 year old truck immaculate.
    The referred post was irrelevant to me; I thought I had posed a legitimate question.

    On we go, hopefully.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
  10. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    If you must...use Automotive strength Simple Green. Our family's auto shop used it for 25 years for that purpose and it works well without damage.

    Now, as for my advice on should you clean an engine? Nope, nope, nope. There is nothing to gain from it and everything to lose. To do it right, you need to mask off the trouble areas and even then you might force water into places it does not belong. We did it on pulled motors that we were working on and for vehicles being cleaned up for re-sell, but not on any daily driver.
     
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  11. rstaaf

    rstaaf Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I had my 2001 Mustang GT for 12 years, put 200K on it. I cleaned every inch of that car on a regular basis.

    I never sprayed a garden hose or engine degreaser into the engine compartment.

    I would use car wash just like the paint with rags and brushes to get into every nook and cranny.

    This was right after changing the pulleys at about 100K miles and I had just finished cleaning it...

    DSC00005.JPG DSC00088.JPG 2760dsc00005.jpg
     
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  12. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for some actually relevant information.

    I have always (since the 1980s) cleaned my vehicle engines once or twice a year, with no ill effects.
    This post was originally intended to get more information about products with which to do so.
    I've never even had a car seat, and any women's clothing or bathing suits were returned to the owner(s) as soon as I sobered up. :)
     
  13. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Wet cleaning your engine is just asking for trouble. And unless you're talking about a dedicated show car, it does absolutely nothing that matters.

    If anything, wipe it down. You can use slightly damp rags to do this, if it helps.

    I wipe off the easy to reach bits in the engine compartment of my 6.4L Challenger, maybe once every year or two. It's the kind of car on which a potential buyer would actually dig something like that. I use tightly wrung out cotton rags (plain water), then I go back with a dry rag at the end. All plastic trim, any exposed paint I can reach, hoses, fittings, valve covers, ABS unit, radiator overflow tank, washer fluid tank, etc. I would never spray water, steam, or cleaning chemicals in there, though. I see no tangible benefits, and a plethora of potential problems.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
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  14. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Unless you're selling it, why ruin the patina, and the wonderful smell???
     
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  15. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    I do not spray my engine with any water based product. It's too easy for me to imagine water getting in the wiring and causing problems.

    I'll add that 20 years ago I was a mechanic, and we had one customer with a 10 year old Plymouth Voyager with an engine so clean you could eat off it. The whole van looked almost new. We always thought that was a little strange. I absolutely take care of my vehicles (and other stuff), but I don't have the time or energy for that kind of labor.

    If it needs a bit of a clean up, I buy a couple/three cans of brake cleaner spray and hose down the cold engine. You could use carb cleaner, but it is far more harsh and will melt plastics and potentially damage your paint. So please don't use carb cleaner.

    If you really wanted to clean it, and I have done this with particularly dirty vehicles like my Land Rover, I hose it with brake cleaner, soak a few seconds, scrub a bit in the area I want clean, then spray again. I didn't do this to the whole engine, but a few years back I dropped the oil pan on my truck and went at it pretty hard with the brake cleaner and brush to keep from getting myself filthy every time I touched it.

    Note that black goop will drool off the engine when you do this, so park it in your neighbor's driveway first. Or I suppose you could use that Simple Green to spray down your driveway afterward...
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
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  16. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not since 1963.. i did clean the inside of the carb a couple of days ago.

    The thin oily layer is keeping all the rest rust free.

    E907373D-40DA-422A-A1A4-26EA41524D7E.jpeg
     
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  17. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Holic

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    It made me laugh, because for a few seconds I was thinking, "why is everything backward in that photo?" and then I saw where you are from.
     
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  18. spellcaster

    spellcaster Tele-Holic

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    When I was detailing cars full-time, I discovered that it was less likely to cause a problem using water on older vehicles. Modern stuff tends to be very sensitive to water and if you get the wrong stuff, you're screwed. (Fuel injection components are really susceptible to water damage) My suggestion is to spray the dirty parts with a good detergent cleaner (Dawn dish soap if you don't have something made for automotive applications) and use your air compressor with a dispersal nozzle to blow the cleaner and engine gunk off.
     
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  19. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    I imagine it must be hard to find Whitworth compatible cleaners these days.
     
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  20. DrPepper

    DrPepper Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    As a former mechanic, a dirty engine was easier to find fluid leaks on. (find leak then clean and make the repairs, then clean again if needed)
     
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