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Old 22nd January 2002, 19:08   #1
Ashok Arora
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Cleaning my engine bay

Can you advise me on the right way to keep my engine clean?

I plan to use an engine cleaner spray (eg Gunk) and a jet wash. I intend to apply Armor All to the plastic bits afterwards.

Should I get it steam cleaned instead (what's the difference)?

Any precautions to take? (nobody wants a wet distributor or sqeaky belts)..

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Old 22nd January 2002, 19:34   #2
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Um, Ashok, where exactly in your engine bay do you see a distributor?

Seriously, I would not use solvents inside the beast's engine compartment. Get it steam-cleaned; it'll look nicer and you'll feel better about it.
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Old 22nd January 2002, 19:54   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by dwasifar
Seriously, I would not use solvents inside the beast's engine compartment.
Agreed. I think this has been covered before on another thread, but I would also stay away from high pressure. I wash my engine every month or two, just using some dilute car wash followed by a rinse with low pressure fresh water. I use 303 protectant on the hoses and plastic bits. I wouldn't recommend ArmorAll.
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Old 22nd January 2002, 19:59   #4
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How come no Armor All - I plan to use the premoistened wipes as they don't leave the sticky residue...
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Old 22nd January 2002, 22:32   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ashok Arora
How come no Armor All
ArmorAll contains silicone oil, which accelerates the aging of plastic and rubber.

I think it makes sense to use a product with good UV/oxidation protection and to avoid silicone oil. Otherwise, it's just a matter of personal preference (degree of sheen, fragrance, etc).

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Old 22nd January 2002, 22:51   #6
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I would refrain from hosing off the engine bay. I would recommend you check with a professional steamer or just hand wash the engine. There are just too many electonics in there.
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Old 23rd January 2002, 00:06   #7
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Mine needs it to, and I've been putting it off.

I agree that there is too much risk with high-pressure water and aggressive solvents like Gunk. They can remove lubrcation from the wrong places.

I plan to use low pressure water, a bit of car wash soap and various brushes. If I need a degreaser for some spots I will try some of the citrus-based stuff - seems to have the best reward-vs.-risk ratio.

On the other hand, the above is totally my instinct and isn't based upon too much experience OR fact. Open to other suggestions, counter-point......
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Old 23rd January 2002, 01:07   #8
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Jerry Brown has cleaned all his engines for years with Simple Green and a garden hose. Stay away from stuff like Gunk. If you are concerned about electronics you can cover obvious things like fuse boxes.

The E39 has quite a bit covered compared to old BMW's and I think you would just be cleaning plastic covers for the most part. My engine needs it bad also. I would also recommend maybe removing the undertrays to get a better flow.

Steam cleaning places just blast the heck out of the engine and underneath with much more pressure than we would ever use at home.
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Old 23rd January 2002, 01:14   #9
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Kevin - I've seen first hand the damage simple green can do. I once used it on some model airplane engines. I don't know what it is, but if attacks aluminum pretty badly. It's fine if you can truly get it all rinsed off, but evidently there were some places where guys had used it on airplanes that "joint" areas like where panels overlapped ended up with excessive corrosion. Since there are so many areas in our engine bay that are hard to get to, and could trap some water, I would avoid simple green.




Besides. That stuff smells SO bad!
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Old 23rd January 2002, 03:14   #10
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I'd have to say watch out for water in the engine area in general. I hosed off my E420 a couple years back, and even after covering everything electrical with bags, stuffing the intake, and spraying low pressure from the hose, I still developed a miss in the engine that lasted 2 weeks!

I had blown it dry with a leaf blower until there was no moisture visible. The engine looked just great - I was proud. One turn of the key however and it just bucked, sputtered, and died. I opened every electrical compartment looking for water and then took the leaf blower again and used it for 10 more minutes everywhere I could think of. Engine now started but with severe idle problems. I then let it warm for 15 minutes at idle to make sure all moisture was gone.

For the next 2 weeks, I had a miss in the engine! Finally I got fed up and took it to the dealer. Car was under warranty, so why not, right? He called me later and said "who took a hose to the engine bay?" He said it was quite apparent because there was still water in the bottom recess areas of the spark plug canals (after 2 weeks of driving). According to him, it was grounding them out on the engine block and cleaning would not be covered under warranty.

Bottom line? I was billed for 2 hours labor due to them having to dry the plug canals without removing the spark plugs, which is evidentally hard to do on that engine. He also said he sees way too many cases of blown ABS controllers by water damage, and that I was "lucky".

So now I have a 45,000 mile ML430 with an engine bay that looks like it's gone through the Australian Outback, but I'm not touching this one with water until I hear some miracle way to clean it.
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