Should you clean your engine bay?

Arif · Oct 2, 2020 03:59 PM

Should you clean your engine bay? 01

Getting your car cleaned is very satisfying. Most of us just pay to get them cleaned while some of us prefer to do the job ourselves. Either way, the shiny exterior and spotless interior never fail to make our cars feel fresh. It’s the similar feeling you get after getting a haircut.

Should you clean your engine bay? 02

One area that rarely gets attention at a car wash is the engine bay. Most of us never pop the hood unless our car breaks down or we need to fill up the wiper fluid. If left attended for a long time, the engine bay can get rather unpleasant. In abandoned cars, dust and leaves may start to collect. Sometimes, even small animals may even decide to make it their new habitat.

So, let’s answer the title question

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Q: Should you clean your engine bay?

A: Cleaning your engine bay mainly serves cosmetic purposes only. Unless you have leaves or anything else blocking the radiator or jamming your intake, you don’t have to clean your engine bay.

Should you clean your engine bay? 01

If you do want to clean your engine bay for cosmetic purposes, you can. Just remember to take the necessary precautions. The safest way to do it is to just use a damp cloth.
Always remember to clean the engine bay with the engine cooled off.

Should you clean your engine bay? 02

A little dirt doesn't hurt. Photo:

Q: Are there any benefits to keeping the engine bay clean?

A: If by keeping clean you mean keeping it clear of leaves and dust and regular inspections, harbouring the habit of keeping the engine bay clean can help you spot small problems a lot earlier before they get serious. Such small problems include oil/grease leaks and worn out belts.

Q: Can the engine bay take water?

A: Most modern cars have good wire insulation. However, there are still some exposed parts that you want to be careful with if you intend on washing your engine bay with a little bit of water.

Should you clean your engine bay? 03

You wouldn’t want to get water near the following areas:

  • Alternator
  • Distributor
  • Air filter/air intake
  • Fuse box
  • Other exposed electronics

Should you clean your engine bay? 04

Q: Can I pressure wash my engine bay?

Should you clean your engine bay? 05

A: The simple and safe answer is no.

Should you clean your engine bay? 06

We wouldn’t advise you to do this mainly because cleaning oil and grease stains is way more effective with a bottle of degreaser and a microfibre cloth. Using a pressure washer could allow water to penetrate areas it isn’t supposed to penetrate in the first place.

With faulty electronics, you may end up with a super clean engine that wouldn’t start.
You can get your engine bay squeaky clean without ever needing to use a pressure washer.

Here’s a video showing how it’s done


Keeping your engine bay clean is not crucial but it is a good habit. Should you insist on cleaning the engine bay, be sure to do it properly. We will go into detail on that on another day.

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Previously an engineer in an automotive manufacturing company and a highway concessionaire. A part-time research student on biofuels and diesel engines. Obsessed with vehicle electrification and the future of transportation.

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