Car detailing - how to clean your car engine bay like a pro detailer
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Just keeping the exterior and interior of your car clean isn't enough because true love for your car means keeping its engine bay clean as a whistle as well!

Category: Car Ownership Advice

Cleaning the engine bay of your car is a little like tidying your storeroom - others won't really notice it, but it is still something that should be done. A messy storeroom would make it difficult to search for your things when you need them. Similarly, to car detailing, a dirty engine bay can hide potential leaks and make it difficult to ensure the health of your car.

Moreover, cooling issues might crop up when there's a thick layer of dirt covering the entire engine and its cooling components. Keeping your engine bay spick and span will keep everything running just fine. Plus, who doesn't enjoy a clean and attractive engine bay when the need to pop the bonnet arises? So here's a guide to help you detail your car's engine bay safely, like a professional.
What you need:

All you need is a source of running water and some cleaning essentials
1. Source of running water, with a hose or pressure washer
2. Plastic bags
3. Degreaser
4. A small brush
5. Cloth
6. Simple tools (to undo battery connectors)

Optional: Metal polish, plastic restorer, wax, compressed air can or electric blower
Let engine cool down

Give the piping-hot engine and its components ample time to cool down before you start!
Ever had a glass crack or shatter when you poured some icy-cold water into it? Well, that's the unequal thermal expansion at work, resulting in thermally induced stress that is too much for the glass to handle. And this can happen to car components as well. Rapidly cooling down a piping hot engine might result in costly damages.

Before you start to wash your car's engine bay, you need to allow ample time for the car engine to cool down. Depending on how long you have been driving, you might have to wait for 30 minutes or more in order for the engine and its components to cool down sufficiently before you can safely start washing it.
Cover sensitive components so you can wash without worry

Wrap sensitive parts such as the air intake and electrical components to avoid getting them wet
Before you even get any water close to the engine bay, there are some precautions to take. The first thing to do is to disconnect the battery, this way, you'll reduce the likelihood of damaging electrical components in your car, should you accidentally get them wet.

You'll be able to do so by undoing and removing the negative terminal from the battery.

The next step is to cover all sensitive components that wouldn't do well with water with plastic bags.

Once it's all wrapped up, you can start to give the engine bay a quick rinse
This includes electrical components such as the alternator, the battery, ignition coils and wires and the engine control unit if it is located in the engine bay.

If your car has an aftermarket air intake that is open to the elements, you will have to cover it up as well.

With all critical areas covered and protected from water, you can start with a pre-wash rinse to get rid of the loose dirt and dust. Take this moment to look out for areas that will require deeper cleaning.

Degrease, brush and rinse

After spraying degreaser, you can use a brush to get rid of the accumulated grime, remember to rinse it all off after! 
Now, it's time for the bulk of the work. Start spraying degreaser all over the engine bay, with a focus on the particularly dirty and grimy areas.

Remember those areas that require deeper cleaning? With a small brush you can agitate the degreaser and get rid of the stubborn grime that has built up over the years with a nice scrubbing session.

Once all the dirt has been broken loose, and the degreaser had some time to do its work, you can proceed to rinse it all off. Do keep the water pressure at a moderate level so you don't get water where you don't want - those critical components covered under the plastic bags.
Dry and detail

With everything cleaned, you can take things a step further by polishing the various parts in your car's engine bay
With all the degreaser and dirt washed off, you'll want to dry the engine bay as much as possible. This can be hastened with the aid of compressed air, either from a can, or equipment such as a leaf blower.

After most part of the engine bay has dried, you can proceed to detail the engine bay to your desired result.

Metal polishing compound and a fair bit of buffing can bring bare metal surfaces to a high level of shine while the application of plastic restorer or protection products can help maintain the deep luster of plastic components.

Smooth, painted surfaces within the engine bay can also be waxed to achieve that show-car gloss, just like how you’ll detail the exterior paint of your car.

When it's all done, remember to remove the plastic bags and re-connect your car's battery. And that's it, you have just cleaned your car's engine bay like a professional car detailer!
Here are some related articles that might interest you
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You don't need a car workshop for these seven simple routine checks
A guide to car parts under the hood of your car
DIY car detailing - choosing the best products for every inch of your car
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