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What are the Best Tips for Engine Degreasing?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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Engine degreasing is a process of removing caked-on motor oil and grease from an automobile engine. There are many chemical cleaners and degreasing products in the marketplace which make the cleaning process easier. Some tips that make engine degreasing a much simpler task include warming the engine prior to cleaning it and using a steam cleaner in place of a hose and water. Perhaps the best tip is to keep the engine clean and free of contaminates on a regular basis. Consistent and regular engine compartment detailing prevents a buildup of grease and filth on any engine.

When selling a vehicle, the engine compartment should be cleaned to better enhance the vehicle's condition. A key component in cleaning an engine compartment is a thorough engine degreasing. Bringing the engine up to operating temperature before beginning any cleaning will aid in dislodging the caked-on grease and road dirt from the engine. With the engine warm, application of any brand of commercial degreasing product will melt the grease off of the engine. Especially dirty engines will often require two or more applications of the chemical grease remover—the chemical should be rinsed off thoroughly with a hose and high-pressure water, per the manufacturer's directions.

If available, a steam cleaning unit will make much shorter work of removing the chemical. The application of heated steam takes over where the warming of the engine stops. The steam cleaner also makes it possible to clean the entire area under the hood, including the under-hood insulation. It is often wise for people to clean these areas with the steam cleaner prior to the engine degreasing. This is done to prevent dirt and melted grease and oil from dripping down onto a freshly cleaned engine.

If using a high-pressure hose to rinse the engine degreasing chemical off of the automobile engine, it is best to wear protective clothing. Bits of grease and debris will undoubtedly be flying through the air, and the chance of ruining an article of clothing is very likely. It is for this reason that protective eye wear should also be worn at all times when cleaning an engine compartment.

There are specific regulations regarding the disposal of engine contaminants and engine degreasing products. It is wise for people to read and follow directions concerning the disposal of such material. Car wash facilities often have rules against the cleaning of automobile engines in the wash bays.

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Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On Aug 05, 2011

Whenever my boyfriend degreases our car engine he always manages to get stains on his clothes.

So, my best tip for engine degreasing would be to use very old clothes while you're doing it, and to try not to touch them. Get some of that really harsh pink pumice soap that farmers use, to help clean off your hands afterwards.

And if you do get grease on some clothes and want to try and save them get a commercial product to do it. There are lots of so called grease remedies online, but I've found only the ones from the supermarket really work!

By pleonasm — On Aug 05, 2011

It's worth saying that while it might help a little bit to warm the engine before degreasing it, I've come across a few places that insist it should be cold.

If you do choose to warm it, make sure it is only warm and not hot. Not only could you hurt yourself, but the cleaners you are using might start to give off fumes if they make contact with hot engine parts and that could be really dangerous.

It's common sense, but I guess it doesn't hurt to make sure people aren't going to do something stupid.

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