Corey expertly covers the air cleaner/carburetor and the distributor cap.

Corey expertly covers the air cleaner/carburetor and the distributor cap.

Just go for it, right? Wrong.

After our trip to Little Foreign Car Garage to see Skipper Hull went, well, swimmingly, we were advised to take the truck home and wash the engine bay to make it easier for techs to work under the hood.

How hard could it be?

Gunk FEB1 Foamy Engine Brite Engine DegreaserActually it’s not that hard at all, really. We do want to say, first, that this is NOT a task for late model cars and trucks. You want to consult your dealer or mechanic before you take a power washer to the engine bay of a 2013 car.

But with an older car, like our 1987 Dodge Power Ram W150, it really isn’t so bad.

The first thing you want to do is cover up the sensitive bits of the engine bay. We used plastic trash bags. As long as you’re not a maniac with the sprayer later on, you don’t have to go nuts taping things down. Cover the air cleaner/air intake, the battery, and the distributor cap.

After that, you need to degrease the engine. We chose Gunk Engine Brite Foamy. We could probably have gone with Gunk’s stronger options, but this did the trick well. Shake the can well and spray liberally all over the engine bay. Get the edges, walls, valve covers, moving parts — everything you left unexposed. Use the whole can.

Let that sit for 5-10 minutes before using a brush to get at the really caked up areas. Don’t try to be too fine here. You don’t have to remove everything yet. That’s what the hose is for. Just get everything lose so the hose can do its job.

After the degreasing agent has had at least 15 minutes to do its dirty job, hose it down.

John goes to town with the sprayer

John goes to town with the sprayer

Any self-wash car wash place will have the necessary sprayer for you to use, or you could always hook it up to your garden hose if you have a house — we do not.

The washer we used had a good kick to it, but you do not want to use a gas-powered high-pressure-washer. That’s silly and unnecessary, and it could damage engine parts.

Spray from top to bottom, getting the engine bay from all angles. Let the gunk and grime run downward and onto the ground (another good reason not to do this at your own house) and keep going for a good 3-5 minutes.

With shop towels, mop up any pooled water and dry off any easy-to-reach parts. After about 20 minutes, replace the parts you removed, get rid of the plastic bags, start the car, and let it idle for at least 15 minutes or until the rest of the engine compartment is dry.

Finally, Skipper told us it would be a good idea to apply some silicone throughout the engine bay, which we did by spraying some Liquid Wrench M914/6 to the parts we just cleaned.

Budget a solid hour and a half to get this project done. It’s well-worth it if you’re going to be working on an old car. If you’re like us and have always wondered how to safely wash under the hood, now we all know!

All cleaning supplies were purchased at full retail price. No products were provided for free, and no companies paid to sponsor this article. Opinions are our own. Do this task at your own risk.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

4 Responses

  1. Charles

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the good read. As a pressure washing professional we always need to be careful of what we are washing due to the high PSI levels whether it is a roof, vinyl, or even under the hood of a car. You made some great suggestions though, thanks again


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