Steam-Cleaning a Car Engine


Although steam cleaning is not recommended for all automotive engines, in the end the decision remains up to the vehicle’s owner. Debate continues over the advisability of either washing or steaming an engine. However, in the long run, most people agree that a clean engine is vastly preferable to one that is coated with grease and grime. It reduces the possibility of engine fire significantly and helps to extend the life of the engine.Much contention also exists over the term “steam cleaning” when, in fact, many of the so-called steam processes still involve chemicals, liquids and other compounds. Nonetheless, any liquid use in vapor form is believed safer for circuits and delicate sensors than the use of running water.

  • Decide whether or not to use an engine-cleaning compound. This decision may depend somewhat on the type of steam cleaning process being employed, as well as the condition of the engine. Some professional steam cleaners are powerful enough to remove grease and grime without the use of additional compounds. However, many steam cleaners built for home use are not as powerful and may require additional assistance in order to be effective.

  • Apply engine-cleaning products, if they are required. Be sure to follow all the instructions outlined for the brand of engine-cleaning product being used. Be careful not to get the product on any of the vehicles delicate sensors or circuits. Cover or otherwise mask those parts in order to prevent damage. Instructions for this purpose should be provided in the vehicle's maintenance guide.

  • Allow the engine-cleaning product to sit for the amount of time recommended within the instructions. That will be somewhat dependent upon the amount of dirt and oil that must be removed from the vehicle.

  • Remove as much excess cleaning product, grease, and grime before beginning the steam cleaning process. Be sure to use materials that will not damage the surface of the engine.

  • Take the vehicle to a place where professional steam cleaning is provided, or prepare your own steam-cleaning equipment for use. Double-check to make certain that all of the delicate engine sensors, car parts, and open circuits are covered appropriately before beginning the steam cleaning process.

  • Steam clean the engine carefully, following the instructions for the equipment being using. Remain as far away as possible from any open circuits, sensors, or delicate parts of the engine.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take the car to a place that will steam clean the engine for you. Just make certain they provide a warranty in the event that they damage any part of the vehicle.
  • Keep as much distance as possible between the steam cleaning equipment and engine. While you want the job to be done well, you rarely have to put the equipment that close to the engine. Doing so may, in fact, be dangerous to you and might damage the engine.

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