We spend countless hours detailing the interior and exterior of our cars, but how many people give the needed attention inside the engine bay? Having your engine bay properly detailed not only looks great, but it also helps fight potential corrosion as well. With a few simple tools and supplies, you too can keep the area under the hood looking like it was professionally detailed.
I’ve spoken with a tremendous amount of people who don’t detail the engine bay simply because they’re concerned about damaging the car. It only requires a few preventative measures along with some common sense, and you can clean your engine compartment without worry. The biggest concern is that water will short out electrical connections. In most modern cars, key electrical components and housings are tightly sealed from the elements of daily driving. As long as you’re not directing a strong stream of water (or a pressure washer at close range) directly into these components, you will be fine.
- If the air intake opening is directly in sight, then you can either stuff it with a towel, or cover it up with plastic wrap and a rubber band (don’t forget to remove it when you’re done!).
- If you have an aftermarket intake system with an exposed air filter, then cover it up with a plastic bag and secure it with a rubber band.
- If you have a fully exposed alternator you can either cover it with plastic wrap, or even better yet use aluminum foil. The foil is easier to mold and fit around the alternator without having to tightly secure it.
- Use the wide spray pattern on your hose nozzle as opposed to a strong stream. You only need a light rinsing as the cleaners and brushes will be doing all of the work.
- Working on a warm engine is fine, but if it’s hot, then let it cool for a while.
- An all purpose cleaner, such as P21S Total Auto Wash or Chemical Guys Grime Reaper if you require heavy degreasing
- A brush like the Mini E-Z Detail Brush
- A sponge or wash mitt
- Protectants and dressings, such as 303 Aerospace Protectant and Chemical Guys Fade 2 Black
- Microfiber Towels
How-To Detail Your Engine Bay
This engine bay has just gotten through a rough Midwest winter, and everything is covered in grime.
First start out by completely covering all surfaces (including the under side of the hood itself) with P21S Total Auto Wash. This is a gentle cleaner that is safe to use on virtually all areas.
Now that everything is covered, let it dwell for a few minutes so it can break down the grime.
Using your Mini E-Z Detail Brush, agitate the heavier buildup. You can use your sponge or mitt for cleaning the larger flat surfaces.
As you can see, the Mini E-Z Detail brush does a great job of getting into all of the hard to reach areas.
After you have brushed and wiped everything down, lightly rinse it all off with a gentle spray of water. Start with the underside of the hood first, and then work your way into the engine compartment. There are plenty of places for dirt and grime to hide, so be thorough with your rinse.
If you have a Metro Vac & Blo or compressed air, use it to blow all of the standing water away. If not, then just use your MF towel to wipe it all down. For further drying, you can also start the engine and let it run for a few minutes.
Now it’s time to add the finishing touches to your engine compartment. Spray on 303 Aerospace Protectant to all plastic and rubber, and then wipe it down to reveal a matte finish that is not greasy or oily. This is a tremendous and versatile product that can be used on many areas of the car.
For hoses, wires, and other hard to reach rubber and plastic pieces I like to use Chemical Guys Fade 2 Black (this is also my go-to product for the wheel wells!)
All done! Now you have a much nicer looking engine bay that is clean, free from potentially corrosive materials, and protected from the elements.
Engine Bay Before and After Photos