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Do You Clean Your Engine?
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photogdave
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:18 pm    Post subject: Do You Clean Your Engine? Reply with quote

After a summer of driving up FSR roads and such my engine bay is pretty filthy. When I was a teenage lot lizard at the local Toyota lot I used to have to wash every car that was serviced and shampoo the engine. We had this canned stuff I would spray on all the greasy dirty bits and then rinse off with light bursts from the pressure washer (always careful to stay away from the distributer!).
Do you clean your engine? Any particular product that works well or not? Any tips or don't-do's?
In a Vanagon I guess I'd be worried about any back splash getting on the trip pieces and rear seat so maybe some plastic would have to be put down...
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Noganav T3
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Engines seem happy to turn hundreds of thousands of miles all while working under what is a significant black layer of combined oil grease and dirt. I have scrapped more than my share of layer upon layer of this crud off engines, transmissions and under bodies. In many ways that thick layer of grease will reveal a pristine factory paint or non corroded alloy parts, protected decades from moisture by that thick layer of crud.

That said you can use any number of items to clean the grease away, from easy off oven cleaner and castrol super clean which will almost melt any alloy part on contact and remove paint on contact. to the citrus cleaners and strong water soluble engine degrease rs.

My Pop who restores old cars gave me a tip for getting some of the 3 to 4 decade old crud off the underside of some of the old rigs he works upon. He will use a simple pump spray bottle with mineral spirits and soak the grease really good for several days or even weeks then blast it with the car wash. I found this works pretty good at getting the first few coats of dried , baked stuff off.

once an engine is clean to keep it that way a simple solvent, citrus cleaner that is mild will loosen the grease.

Hooking up your hose to your hot water heater and blasting the cleaner away with warm or hot water will help a lot. Follow up with compressed air or a strong leaf blower to blow the water away after helps to dissapate the moisture. Hot water really makes a huge difference.

Though it attracts dirt, applying a light coat of wd-40 or your choice (lps etc) light spray lube on certain engine items after a clean up is a good idea.
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a touchy subject with some, but I am against cleaning an engine for its own sake. Sure if you've had an oil line burst or have been offroad on an extended trip and the engine bay's caked, it's something to consider. But normal accumulation will be kept under control by normal driving in rain once in a while.

Connections and even wire itself are not watertight and much less so after 25 years of aging, shrinking and hardening of seals. Directly applying water to these bits is simply a great way to use liquid to carry dirt and corrosive byproducts directly into connections where it never would have gone as a particle. It's among the worst things you can do to a combination of electrical, electronic and small moving parts.

If you absolutely have to, then use one of the foaming engine cleaners designed for it and then the finest and gentlest spray you can create to remove the cleaner and the stuff it liquified. Trouble is most will go to a car wash because the resulting mess they don't want in their driveway and those spray wands are WAAAAY too strong to spray on an engine.

Resist the urge, I say. Celebrate the patina of use an engine acquires over decades of motoring.

DougM
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markz2004
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every time at the coin car wash, I'll shoot the transmision and then the engine through the wheel wells. On occasion, I'll rinse the engine from the top with a garden hose. You could spray the engine from the top, but it does take some effort to put up an old shower curtain or something to keep the inside of the van from getting spattered.

The benefit of a clean engine is that it is easier to work on and give a visual inspection for leaks, etc. Some say a clean engine runs cooler.

I like a clean engine. It makes me feel better about myself. Very Happy

do a search for cleaning engine, etc.
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vanjoe
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ironic subject. I just got done rinsing mine about 2 hours ago. I have had a stubborn oil leak for the past year. It is the crankshaft seal at the back of the motor(license plate side). I changed the seal about 6-8 months ago and the leak stopped for a few days and reappeared. The seal fit kinda loose in the valley when I installed it. So anyways I have tried 1 oil stop leak crap and it didn't take care of the leak. So I have been cleaning my engine off every couple of weeks until I get a chance to change the seal. I use simple green degreaser in a pump sprayer and rinse it off. So I tried 1 more oil stop leak that has 3 times the componants to stop the leak and is made by Stabil. I put it in a few days ago and have been driving my van around. So tonight I decided to wash the engine and the leak is stopped for now. Hopefully I won't have to wash the engine for a long time. So again Simple Green works real well.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We drive a lot of Forest service roads and regularly get a build up of dirt. I just take a garden hose to it to get off the loose stuff.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simple Green and a light spray from the garden hose works for me.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If really oily I will use a citrus based cleaner and hose. If I go through the spray wash I often will use the low pressure and rinse the dust off the engine compartment. Never use high pressure around the wires and soft rubber hoses. Or around the electronics.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simple green, and/or degreaser for certain areas.. light spray to rinse.
Just to keep the worst of the dirt off.

After 6 months or so during spring, summer, fall the bay gets pretty crusty.. and we pick up a lot of sand and salt during winter ski season.

Makes working on the engine much more pleasant.

Maybe its the rear engine placement.. But my VW vans have always been filthier than any front engine vehicle I've owned/abused.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will tell you one thing not to do, as in NEVER to do.

I was cleaning my engine and left it running as that seems to continually dry the moisture out of the distributor, etc. and keep it from not starting afterward.

There was a stubborn grease spot so guess what, I got out the spray carburetor cleaner. No open flame around, right?

Wrong. The sparks inside the distributor lit it up like lighter fluid on a barbecue. Luckily the hose wasn't too far away. I wore my dunce cap the rest of the day. Almost lost a Syncro Westy in the process.

I'm kind of with IdahoDoug on this, better to resist the urge to keep 'em clean. What harm does the accumulated scunge really do except to our pride?

Anyway, no carb cleaner while it's running...
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am too afraid Shocked
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spray the engine at every car wash. I will mist the bay with tire foam every month to keep the hoses black. I hate working on a dirty ass engine.
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trihartsfield
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

outwesty wrote:
I spray the engine at every car wash. I will mist the bay with tire foam every month to keep the hoses black. I hate working on a dirty ass engine.


What about steam cleaning? There is someone local who does this but I am not sure if it is under pressure. Does anyone know if steam cleaining is pressurized?

Chris
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RGS Paul
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep your engine clean. Here is why:

Say you take your beloved to a shop to get the hooter-clamp replaced. The boss looks up hooter-clamps in the big book and sees that it takes 30 minutes to do the job and quotes it to you appropriately. You agree and hand over the keys. The boss then gives them to the mechanic.

The mechanic now has 30 minutes to replace the hooter-clamp. If it takes longer then that he doesn't get paid for the time over 30 minutes, so the job WILL take 30 minutes. He lifts the engine lid and finds things so crusted over he can't even see the hooter-clamp. Your trusty mechanic now has to spend 15 minutes of a 30 minute job cleaning your engine. Now, he has to rush like mad to get the first job done, and may miss small details such as: your bypass-valve looks worn, your throttle cable is frayed, or the exact torque on the cap screws on the hooter-clamp. Yes the job will get done but the details that he would have liked have taken care of may get trimmed.

You get your van back not knowing that the bypass-valve is looking worn, that the throttle cable is about to snap, or that the hooter-clamp will now fail at 80% of its life because of improper torque. But you only paid for 30 minutes of shop time and your beloved is running again so you think you are happy for the time being.

Same argument basically applies to DIY mechanics, do you want a 30 minute job to take an hour because the engine is nasty, or would you rather spend that half hour doing anything else?

If you are afraid of electrics getting wet due to age, fix them.

The actual mechanics on this board may chime in if they feel I am in error.

Oh, and a hooter-clamp is fictional, don't go looking for it in the Bentely.

Cheers,

Paul
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After I bought the Thingamajigger, I needed to do a major douching under the engine cover. Looks like it had not been done in quite a while and I too hate working on a crud laden vehicle. I wont even bring my vehicles to the mechanic without a douche in the area to be worked upon.

That is unless I have a tell tale leak that needs to be seen.

I sprayed it down with some professional kitchen degreaser while engine was warm, staying away from most plastic pieces, and then broke out the pressure washer. I had the lowest pressure fitting on the wand and had connected to the hot water spigot from my washing machine.

Worked great, but I will not allow it to get that way again. Actually found a factory engine rebuilt tag under the crud on top of engine case that I did not know was there when I initially looked at the Westy before buying.

Simple green and hot water from hose works great. And I always do the rinsing after I just start it (not too hot - damage could result) as I can see if I have water related issues
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did while it was on the stand ... Simple Green, a variety of brass brushes, cloths, paper towels, old tootbrushes, Q-tips, etc, and (most importantly) one of the home steam cleaner rigs. This is the one I have:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=euro+pro+...GYQ8gIwAA#

The steamer does a GREAT job of blasting crap out of nooks and crannies that are difficult or impossible to really clean otherwise.

Since the engine's gone back in, I've not had a need to clean it (yet). The next project will be to clean the incredible collection of goo off of the tranny, which looks like it may NEVER have been cleaned in 22 years.

Doug
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

markz2004 wrote:
Every time at the coin car wash, I'll shoot the transmision and then the engine through the wheel wells. On occasion, I'll rinse the engine from the top with a garden hose. You could spray the engine from the top, but it does take some effort to put up an old shower curtain or something to keep the inside of the van from getting spattered.

The benefit of a clean engine is that it is easier to work on and give a visual inspection for leaks, etc. Some say a clean engine runs cooler.

I like a clean engine. It makes me feel better about myself. Very Happy

do a search for cleaning engine, etc.


Ditto. A clean engine is a happy, slightly cooler running engine. If my vehicles have to go to a shop, every time I return to pick the vehicle up the comment is: "Your car is so clean! Thank you!! It's so refreshing to work on a clean engine/transmission/whatever!" And I, myself, can't stand working on dirty engines, transmissions, etc. Lastly, if anything starts leaking, you know immediately where it's coming from. If the engine, trans, etc. is covered in grime you're going to have clean all that crap off first, and then figure out where it's leaking from... no thanks.

I don't have a pic of the van's engine bay, but it's a tad dirtier at the present moment than my Cabriolet:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

steam cleaners are not inherently high pressure and work extremely well (if you can find one).

If not, then use a hose from a hot water tank - hot water is great stuff...

I agree on never using a pressure washer near any electrics, vacuum, clamps, etc. on the engine - also watch for inspection ports

I have used a pressure washer on the chassis and "safe" areas of engines and trannys.

For heavy crud, you should initially use a wood or plastic scraper to remove as much as possible. Only then use the foaming engine cleaners and you will need a lot less. Next use a rag with solvent. After that you can use brake cleaner, Q-tips or other Concoursmobile tricks to put as much lipstick on the pig as you want...

Once the engine is clean it takes little to keep it that way.

Be sure the crud that comes off the engine does NOT go into the storm gutters and foul the very places you enjoy camping at, swimming in or eating fish from...
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never considered the possible advantages of leaving it dirty -- I just enjoy it clean. I wash my hands before I start working on it.

When I do take it to a mechanic the shop owner always comments on how much they enjoy working on it (plus getting the plate of hot cookies).

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


As noted, once it is clean keeping it clean is no big deal.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, keep all my vehicle engines clean - even my lawnmower looks new.

It took me two days to get the 25 years of crud off the westy. Now it doesn't smell like burnt oil when I shut her down after a run

I agree with all the above comments on why they should be that way - they run better, cooler, and you can instantly see when you have an 'issue'. I even keep my coolant lines shiney and clean. Cool
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