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Cleaning Engine -- Safe?


prix
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Anyone know whether a non-mechanic cleaning the engine can screw things up? I have soot everywhere from the valve gasket seal leak. I don't know who to hire to clean it up. Someone told me only a mechanic should be cleaning the engine, because stuff can get screwed up. Thoughts? I called a few detail shops and they say sure they can do this, not to worrry, etc.

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I have never cleaned the engine on my Lexus, but I have before on my 1980s Camry's and Accord's. Never had a problem with the Camry's but the Accords ignition system is sensitive. The car would stall for a while until it dried out. Perhaps the way that the plugs are positioned on the 80s Accords was the culprit. I would say as long as you do not blast any of the electrical components or firewall with water, you should be OK, but I would wait to someone that has actually cleaned the engine on their LS400 to key in and give you their input.

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I have been 'Gunking' and pressure washing[at car wash] the engines of my cars for the last 30+ years.

The Lexus: probably every 6-9 months for the last 5 years. Just cover the alternator with a plastic and use some common sense.

Did get moisture in the dist. cap of a '65 Falcon once and had to dry it out with a good hanky before I could get it out of the stall !!!! Other than that, can't ever remember a problem.

You hear all kinds of tales from heads and exhaust pipes cracking to fuel injection problems--wouldn't run at 90mph then wash off !!!!

Think there have been threads here about this subject--just use the 'search' item. Then you are on your own. :whistles:

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When I read things about people putting 'shrouds' on their alternator to protect from any power steering pump leaks, it makes me nervous about having some non-mechanic clean the engine, maybe gooping it up with something that might ruin a part and/or parts. A detail shop told me they would use a degreaser, etc., but would not be any more specific than that (protecting trade secrets, I guess). Anyhow, the engine is filthy from the gasket seal leak and I have to do something. However, I am not doing ANYTHING until I am convinced that whoever I hire knows what they are doing. I've learned from past experiences that taking the time to make sure it's being done right is really worth it.

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Also- I have heard to NEVER wash a HOT engine while it is not running. If the engine is HOT, leave the engine on while you spray it. I have heard that spraying a hot engine while it is off can cause the engine to crack. I cannot say for sure, but that is what I have heard over the years.

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Prix--sorry, left something off: I meant to say a plastic BAG should be used to cover the alternator--and stay away from that area with the spray wand.

Again, I don't think you should have a problem.

I would recommend you spray the bottom area of the engine also--if the engine has never been cleaned as it seems. Remove the lower engine cover; spray as much engine, etc.as you can see with Gunk[regular, not the fancy stuff], then spray the top of the engine---wait awhile-15-30 min [pick a weekday at a carwash to do this--no crowd]; then spray up first then down---wear 'rags'--you will be almost laying down. If you don't want to remove the lower engine, then forget the bottom area.

Tell you what--think it would be much safer for you to do this than to pay anyone to do anything.

Wait on more responses--let's do a 'full circle' on this--you are not in that big a rush!!

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this is what i do:)

i cover all electrical parts with the plastic bags and then spray the bottle of gunk engine cleaner into the engine. i let it stay there for 15 mins and then spray it out with water. once i'm done doiign this i start the car and wait till it heats up and all the water evaporates. once i'm done this i spray everything udner the hood with the special transparent glossy paint and this setup lasts me for a 9-`1 month! you just have to wipe it once in a while with a towel to give it back its shiny look.

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Richard. Thought you meant to say plastic 'bag'. :-) I've got enough info to deal with this...thanks all. What does PM'ing someone mean? I've read the help forums but don't remember seeing that one. Tx.

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I use a cd2 system of degreaser then a clear acrylic on top to stop dirt from adhearing to the engine.

I make sure the engine is warm keep it running and spray the car down at a power washer.

I keep it running to maek sure if by chance the alternator does get a bit of water in there it will spin it out real quick with its fan or dry it up. I also never spray the alternator just around it. Also let the engine get warm by driving it straight to the power washer first drive of the day. So as most components are warm not hot as excessive cool water might crack something althought it would be extremly rare especially ablock which is next to impossible. As far as i know ,no Lexus has a ecu in the engine bay like stupid GM's so most electronics are pretty much weather proof from moisture related problems.

Also look in the detailing forum for really good info alreayd discussed before. As well as www.lexuscarcare.com or the link above this page for really amazing products and advice from a pro detailer , for free i might add.

here is a shot of my engine after i did mine with the 2 products mentioned.

446900_1.jpg

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One more thing...THANKS for the info about not spraying cold water on a hot engine that's shut off and covering electricals. That's IMPT. I'll let everyone know when and how I get that sooty engine cleaned. I think I have enough to go on. Thanks all!!!

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It's spotless under the hood of my '92 LS400. When I bought it 8/03 it was very clean, no leaks. Used a degeaser sprayed on an old towel and wiped it down, no water. Since then I just wipe it down when I do an exterior wash and it hardly gets dirty between washes due to the excellent design that keeps moisture and dirt out of the engine compartment. Same thing with all the door, trunk and hood jams, they get a wipe down with the exterior wash. Prior owner had it detailed every spring so it was in excellent shape. Four Door.

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I still clean my engine the old fashion way. I use an old paint brush, toothbrush, and maybe a few brass brushes. Several rags, and I wipe everything off. Although I have used spray degreasers and hoses in the past on other cars, I don't on my Lexus. There is a picture of my engine on one of the early gallery pages.

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read up on cleaning engines at in the detailing forum. very detailed/very helpful!! they touched on a few things not mentioned on this thread, i.e., recommend using aluminum foil to cover sensors, distrib cap, and other areas. it's malleable, so fits snug up against areas you want to cover, etc. also said have engine 'warm' as opposed to 'hot' at ht etime the degreaser is applied makes it work better.

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Back in the days, about in 1990-1993. Our driver would clean our car and hose the engine down like as if he was power washing a house. It was Japanese car only sold in Asia. I don't know much about the engine, except that it was round like a oil tank that one would put under a car when changing oil. Top speed on that car was 140kph and sometimes we went up to 135kph on it.

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four door: are you using a citrus based degreaser (see detailing forum and cleaning engines)...they say petroleum based degreasers shouldn't be used, let alone allowed to dry on engine, as they will over time remove paint and damage hoses, etc. sounds like you are using no water, so wouldn't residue of the degreaser be left on engine? well, maybe if there were deleterious effects from your method you would have seen it by now.

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SWO3ES -- using pics, found dipstick this am and checked; it's fine. one quesiton though, the dipstick wasn't seated well when I went to pull it out, in fact it seemed like it was already about 1/4 way out. was someone just careless? do you have to turn it when you seat it back to lock it in place? i just put it back (wiped off and checked it several times first) by pushing gently straight down. feedb ack appreciated.

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SWO3ES -- using pics, found dipstick this am and checked; it's fine. one quesiton though, the dipstick wasn't seated well when I went to pull it out, in fact it seemed like it was already about 1/4 way out. was someone just careless? do you have to turn it when you seat it back to lock it in place? i just put it back (wiped off and checked it several times first) by pushing gently straight down. feedb ack appreciated.

No, you don't need to turn it. Just feed it in with the handle reading "engine oil" right side up and parallel to the valve cover.

You are correctly "seating" it as you push it down all the way till it stops.

Now, you'll need to twist the ATF dipstick clockwise and then pull out cause it has a little "catch" on the fill tube to keep it in place. Otherwise, same procedure as oil stick.

99

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I still clean my engine the old fashion way. I use an old paint brush, toothbrush, and maybe a few brass brushes. Several rags, and I wipe everything off. Although I have used spray degreasers and hoses in the past on other cars, I don't on my Lexus. There is a picture of my engine on one of the early gallery pages.

I agree this is the way to clean and engine :D

Add a little WD-40 & or Armour All to a rag now and then if needed.

And, as VB has stated before, keep the TV out in the garage and watch a game as you clean :D

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  • 1 year later...

Sorry to dig up an old thread... First post here BTW...

But I washed my ls400 1992 engine at the local DIY carwash. I used their low-pressure engine degreaser and the low-pressure spot free rinse... It's SPOTLESS! But... now it won't start. :) I'll let you all know how much it cost to fix and what I broke.

Crappy thing is... I do this all the time and have NEVER had a problem! I would say I've washed the engine compartment around 30 > 40 times.

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