Engine Bay Detailing How-To

Bridgestone Tyre Clinic | Drivers' Essential

When’s the last time you cleaned your engine bay? If the answer to that is ‘never’, today’s the time to change. If you regularly wash your car but never clean your engine bay, that’s like taking a shower but never brushing your teeth!

You may think that keeping your engine bay clean is unimportant, but an engine bay covered in oil and grit allows premature wear in the pulleys and bearings, or hides serious issues like gasket leaks. A clean engine bay also allows the engine to stay cooler and operate at peak efficiency.

STEP ONE | Hose it down

You will need:
• A Hose
• Some Plastic Bags or Shrink Wrap
• Some Absorbent Pads

Bridgestone Tyre Clinic - Drivers Essential - Engine Bay Detailing

Before you start, ensure that your engine is sufficiently cool. It doesn’t need to be completely cold – it just needs to be cool to the touch. If you’ve just parked up after driving, we recommend that you leave the bonnet open for approximately 2 hours before you begin the degreasing process.

For starters, lay a few absorbent pads or old rags on the ground underneath your engine bay. This will prevent the chemicals used later from spreading everywhere across the car park floor. Once this is done, disconnect the negative battery terminal and cover the entire battery with a plastic bag. For contemporary cars, be sure to cover the fuse box and the ignition coil packs too!

You can now give your engine a quick pre-rinse to get rid of the majority of loose dust and grit. This makes it easier for the degreaser to spread around, and prevents spots from the soap quickly drying out. If you’re using a pressure washer, do be sure not to use too much pressure, especially around the sensitive areas that have been wrapped.

STEP TWO | Spray it up

You will need:
• A Hose
• A Can of Engine Degreaser
• Some Car Shampoo
• A Soft Wash Brush
• A Wash Mitt
• A Bucket

Bridgestone Tyre Clinic - Drivers Essential - Engine Bay Detailing

Now that everything’s hosed down, it’s time to start with the degreaser. It’s a good idea to use the engine degreaser first rather than car shampoo, as the degreaser will be able to penetrate through the layer of oil and grease in your engine bay.

Spray a liberal amount of degreaser all around your engine bay, and let it sit for a few minutes for the degreaser to work its magic. For the especially greasy bits like the starter and oil pan, give them a few more squirts to ensure that all the gunk comes off.

Agitate the degreaser a bit with the wash brush, scrubbing your engine bay with gentle motions. Using a wash brush ensures that the degreaser gets sufficiently worked up, without creating scratches on painted or plastic surfaces.

After that’s done, give it a rinse with the hose again! You should already begin to see a marked improvement at this point. However, if your engine bay hasn’t been detailed for a long time and the dirt has built up, don’t hesitate to repeat the degreasing process again.

If your engine bay is sufficiently clean after the first pass, you can proceed to finish it up with the car shampoo and wash mitt. Give it a good wipe down, using your finger to reach in to crevices that were too large for the brush. You’re now halfway done – give your engine bay the final hose-down of the day!

STEP THREE | Dry it out

You will need:
• A Microfibre Cloth
• A Leaf Blower or Some Pressurised Air

Bridgestone Tyre Clinic - Drivers Essential - Engine Bay Detailing

With the washing process done, you can now begin to dry your engine bay out. With a leaf blower or a can of pressurised air, blow out the large pools of excess water sitting in your engine bay, moving around each engine component slowly.

After the majority of the water has been blown off, use a clean microfibre towel and wipe down the residual moisture on the individual components.

You may now remove the plastic bags from the battery, fuse box, and ignition coil packs. Start up your engine and turn on the air-conditioning to fully dry the moving components – let the engine run for approximately 5 minutes to ensure everything’s completely dry.

STEP FOUR | Touch it up

You will need:
• Two Microfibre Cloths
• A Tube of Metal Polish
• A Bottle of Plastic Cleaner

Bridgestone Tyre Clinic - Drivers Essential - Engine Bay Detailing

Just like how you wax the paintwork of your car, your engine bay needs a good touching up, too!

Apply some metal polish to the unpainted metal surfaces in the engine bay, such as the engine valve cover and exhaust manifold. This will bring back the original luster of the metal, and give all metal parts a clean and uniform appearance.

For the final touch, spray the dedicated plastic cleaner on all plastic surfaces, including your air intake box and engine cover. This will bring about a great shine and deeper shade to your plastics, while providing a protective layer.


For more articles, head on over to our Tyre Clinic, the ultimate destination for tyre information, to learn more!

To purchase products required for detailing work, visit Bridgestone Authorised Dealer - Autobacs Venture Singapore Pte Ltd: 
• Bukit Batok
• Ubi