Reader Question: Engine Cleaning?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Tom asks: Should I clean my engine or not? I saw a video on cleaning your engine in five minutes and am curious to hear your thoughts.

My reply: I advise against it. Assuming your car isn’t newer than about 1980 or so. The reason being that newer cars have lots of electronics on their engines; sensors and wiring harnesses. These are of course insulated and designed so as to be resistant to encroachment by water. But the usual method for cleaning an engine entails spraying it with a pressure washer or at least, hose water – and that can get water into sensors and harnesses and other places you don’t water encroachment. It can result in intermittent/hard-to-diagnose glitches and such that aren’t worth a clean engine. Besides which, most modern engines are covered by plastic anyhow so there’s nothing much to see, whether clean or dirty underneath those covers.

Unless the engine is absolutely caked with accumulated grease – which could cause it to run hotter – I’d leave it alone and not worry about it. Used car dealers often will pressure-clean engines so as to make them look like new.

But I’d rather it run like new.

. . .

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