Tips to clean your engine for a longer-lasting car

There are several reasons to wash your engine at least every year or two. You'll be more apt to tackle routine belt and hose checks if you know you won't get covered with grime, and it will be easier to spot leaks and to service components.

Tips to clean your engine for a longer-lasting car

How to clean your engine

First of all, remember to protect sensitive engine components — including the air intake, distributor, and electrical parts — with plastic bags before getting started.

  • Use dishwashing liquid or other grease-cutting detergents and a bristle brush to scrub engine and components surfaces.
  • Rinse thoroughly. Heavy-duty engine cleaning products are available at automotive parts stores.
  • Follow the directions carefully. You may also have your engine professionally steam-cleaned.

Clean the filters, too

There are several filters (the main ones are oil, fuel, transmission, and air) important to preserving your car engine, and they should be changed according to the schedule in your owner's manual or as follows:

  • Change the oil filter at least at every other oil change — every change is even better because the old filter contains nearly one litre (one quart) of dirty oil that will remain with the new, clean oil. If you change your oil yourself, wipe the filter threads with an anti-seize lubricant, available at auto supply stores.
  • Check the air filter every two months and replace it when dirty or as part of a tune-up. Air filters are generally easier to get to than oil filters. You find them under the big metal lid in a carbureted engine or in a rectangular box in a fuel-injected engine — check your owner's manual for the exact location. Extend the life of air filters by blowing them clean with compressed air.
  • Despite claims by makers and dealers that some newer fuel filters never need changing, it's smart to have it done once a year. A clogged fuel filter will cause poor engine performance (hesitation and starting difficulties) and is an early warning that there may be corrosion in your gas tank.
  • Change your transmission fluid filter after the first 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) of driving and every 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) or two year thereafter.
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