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Hey, you're in the vehicle / car zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Cars / Trucks / Vans Category: Engine System

Maintenance Issues:

How to clean your engine (particularly its exterior side).

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

·         Appropriate engine degreaser (sold in a spray bottle)

·         Battery holder

·         Wrench

·         Cling plastic wraps (originally for food preservation, will be used for engine-part preservation, such as Saran Wrap, Glad Wrap)

·         Garden hose (hooked up to faucet for water use)

·         Rags/cloths

·         Car wash soap

·         Bucket

·         Mild liquid polisher (for cars)


There are times when you clean the outer side of your vehicle's body frame for a picture-perfect finish, you may want to clean your engine so as to restore it to its original immaculate appearance.

Caution: When dealing with anything that may be potentially hot, make sure you take precautions to avoid contact with it.  Additionally, make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your body from any harmful degreaser contact. 

Cleaning your engine can be done in a few steps, and here's how:

  1. Run your vehicle for about 10 minutes.  This is important to do because the warmth generated as a result of the engine's running will allow the engine degreaser to be applied to work more effectively.

  2. After the 10 minutes of running the vehicle on, upon turning it off, open the hood to proceed to disconnect and remove the battery from the vehicle.

  3. With the hood open, disconnect the cable terminals from the battery, loosening the nuts in the process (with a wrench if need be), starting the disconnect with the negative (black) cable and then the positive (red) cable.

  4. Take the clamp off the battery.

  5. Carefully remove the battery from the vehicle tray and out of the vehicle itself; you may want to use a battery holder for this moving process so as to avoid dropping and consequently creating a potential battery leak or other damage.

  6. Locate the air cleaner and have it removed.

  7. Protect  the vehicle's carburetor or throttle fuel injection body (including its air opening part), spark plugs and other exposed connection points/wires with cling plastic wrap (such as Saran Wrap or Glad Wrap) so as to protect all of these engine parts from the harmful exposure to the degreasing agent that would otherwise damage them.

  8. Covering all vulnerable parts of the engine, continue to prepare for the application of the degreasing agent, including by reading the degreasing agent manufacturer's directions and warnings.

  9. Start spraying the degreasing agent on the engine, making sure to cover with the spray not only the engine itself in the process, but also the battery tray, distributor, firewall, fender housings/cages and the interior side of the hood and its hinges exposed to your view.

  10. After allowing the sprayed-on degreasing agent to "work its magic" for the time period specified by the degreasing agent manufacturer, use a garden hose to wash away all of the grease the degreaser was able to infiltrate and remove on its own; repeat the spray application of the degreasing agent again should a substantial amount of the grease remain as opposed to just thin and minute remnants of the grease being left.

  11. Otherwise, fill a bucket with water and car wash soap.

  12. Submerge a rag/cloth into the soap-filled bucket and then use this soapy rag/cloth to wash away any remnants of the grease left on the engine, etc., and to ultimately give it a nice, clean wipe.

  13. Use another rag/cloth to apply car polish on the firewall and fender housings/cages to give it an extra immaculate touch.

  14. Upon all of the above, remove all previously applied cling plastic wrap.

  15. Carry the battery, preferably in the battery holder, back into the vehicle's newly cleaned battery tray for installation.

  16. Once the battery is in the battery tray, connect the cable terminals and clamp to the battery (as you observed they were originally connected with the battery), making sure you are acutely aware of making the right positive (red cable) and negative (black cable) connections.  Make sure the connections--the nuts--are snug-tight with your hands and use a wrench if necessary.

That's how you degrease your engine.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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