by Pat Goss
As cars have changed there are new and expensive reasons why you want to keep the engine bay clean. See, in the old days, the only reason you cleaned the engine was cosmetic so it looked good. But today things are dramatically different.
In the old days, you had basic, inexpensive radiator hoses. Today you have complex hoses with all these different fittings and everything on them. These can be well over 200 dollars for one hose plus the installation. So that’s a big issue because rubber does not like grease and oil. It gets soft, it swells up. And a dirty engine bay can reduce the life expectancy of these expensive hoses by 50 to 75 percent. So you want to keep it clean.
Now there’s another reason, and that reason is because of all of the electronics on the vehicles the wire harnesses are very complicated. And wire harnesses are typically taped together using a special electrical tape, but that tape also doesn’t like grease and oil. And frequently it gets all greasy and it starts to come apart. Then you have wiring problems.
So these are reasons why you would clean under the hood, but how do you clean under the hood? Well, you want to use a de-greasing chemical and follow the directions on the label. It will tell you to cover certain things under the hood. You can do that with plastic bags and rubber bands. It does an excellent job, very easy to do. But once you’ve sprayed the chemical on, now you have to get it off. And how do you go about that? Well, you could use a garden hose. You could use a pressure washer. Pressure washers are completely acceptable. No problem there.
But there is one thing you do not do, and that is you do not use a steam cleaner. Everybody says, oh, I’m going to go get my engine steam cleaned. Well, that’s not what you do these days because steam can actually migrate into wire connecters under the hood, and once that happens, once it’s inside, it condenses and now you have water inside that connecter. That causes corrosion. The corrosion causes check engine lights and performance problems and failed emissions and so on. So it’s garden hose or a pressure washer, never a steam cleaner. If you keep the under hood clean, all of these things will not be an issue.
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