Can You Wash An Engine While It’s Hot?

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There are several benefits of washing your vehicle’s engine bay. But is it okay to clean your engine when it is hot? Will there be any consequences in doing so? We have taken the time to research this question on your behalf in this article.

It would be best if you refrained from washing your engine when it is hot. Due to engines having metal components, washing them when it is hot can stress the metals, which could cause cracking. In addition, the cracking could potentially increase the chances of water getting into the engine itself.

The engine is the essential part of a vehicle because you don’t make it to your destination without it. Keeping your engine clean is undoubtedly beneficial for performance, but you need to do it at the right time. In this article, we will take a closer look at cleaning your engine and how to do it properly, so read on!

Car detailing series : Cleaning car engine using a towel, Can You Wash An Engine While It's Hot?

Can You Wash An Engine While It’s Hot?

Cleaning your engine when it is hot will put stress on the metals, which could cause cracking. This cracking, in turn, can allow water into the engine itself.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t clean your engine at all if it is hot outside. It’s mainly avoiding cleaning the engine after driving it.

Engines can get really hot after being driven, even for a short amount of time. If you want to clean your engine, you should do it before it’s been driven at all.

The Best Ways to Clean an Engine 

Car detailing. Car washing cleaning engine. Cleaning car using hot steam. Hot Steam engine washing. Soft lighting. Car wash man worker cleaning vehicle

The best way to clean your vehicle’s engine is by using a pressure washer, steam cleaner, or garden hose. You can also use a mixture of dish soap and water and spray cleaners such as Simple Green.

The nice thing about Simple Green is that it is a non-corrosive cleaner and is entirely safe to use on various metals, including steel, aluminum, and more.

If you decide to go with the dish soap and water option, make sure that the car is cool first. In addition, try to use as little as you can as it can be just as bad if not worse than using nothing at all!

If you plan on using a pressure washer, we would recommend waiting until the engine is cool first and then cleaning it at that time. In addition, when using the pressure washer, try not to get too close to the engine and its component.

Pressure washers have a lot of power can, if used too close then can break parts and strip the metal. So always use a pressure washer at a safe distance to wash the engine.

Another rule of thumb is to not spray water directly into any openings.

This includes oil filler caps, air intake hoses, checking the transmission fluid(which shouldn’t be opened under normal circumstances anyway), or anything related to your car’s internal components. Doing so could lead to damage to the components or problems with your engine.

Doing all of this can help prevent damage to your vehicle’s engine bay and extend its life. However, it is worth noting that you should check for any damages before using a pressure washer on it to be safe.

If you Don’t Want to Clean your Engine at Home

Lastly, there are detailed shops that use steam cleaners for engine cleaning. Steam cleaning can be beneficial for getting rid of containments on the engine.

Don’t worry. The steam isn’t a dangerous temperature that will cause issues. Instead, steam cleaning can make the engine look new! 

How Long Does it Take for an Engine to Cool Down to Wash It?

Car detailing. Manual car wash engine with pressure water. Washing car engine with water nozzle. Car wash man worker cleaning vehicle engine.

The engine, being a metal component itself, will heat up after being used. An engine can heat up to dangerous temperatures of more than 100 degrees Celsius/212 Fahrenheit within a few minutes after driving it.

That’s why you should avoid washing your engine when it is hot. If possible, try waiting for an hour or longer after the engine has cooled down to its average temperature.

A good rule of thumb is to put your hand close to the engine, and if you feel any heat, it is still too hot to clean.

All in all, make sure that you wait until the engine is cooled down to its normal temperature before using a pressure washer or dish soap and water.

Doing so can help prevent damage that could lead to leaks, damaged metal components, or other significant problems with your vehicle’s engine bay!

Is it Bad to Wash an Engine?

Washing your engine is a great thing that’s if it is done properly. Cleaning your engine can help avoid the chances of the metals rusting.

In addition, washing your engine can help clear any debris in the engine bay that may cause clogging within the filters and other components.

It can be bad to wash the engine if the engine is hot, as mentioned above. In addition, if you are using a pressure washer and spraying it too close, you can break components such as wires, stripping metals, and breaking plastics.

That’s why we always recommend waiting until the engine is cool before using a pressure washer to clean your engine bay and keeping a moderate distance when spraying the engine.

If you follow those simple tips, we can say it’s always safe to wash the engine bay as long as you do so correctly. But, again, using dish soap and water or a pressure washer is entirely up to personal preference!

What Parts Should you Cover when Washing an Engine?

There are several parts that you have to cover when washing an engine. Some of these include the electrical components, coolant lines, fuel lines, oil fill caps, etc. All of these are sensitive to wetness and external factors such as temperature or pressure.

If water enters any of these components, it can cause damage to the electrical components, metal rusting, and more problems. That’s why it is vital to cover them up when cleaning your engine bay!

As we mentioned before, you can break or cause damage to wires with a pressure washer if too close. In addition, the fuel lines and coolant lines are susceptible to water, and any movement can cause problems.

That’s why you should pay extra attention when cleaning these areas, and keeping them covered can help avoid any damages.

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How Often Should I Clean my Engine Bay?

The frequency in which you should clean your engine bay depends on how often you use your vehicle and what environment it is exposed to typically.

As a general rule, drivers can wash the engine bay every 2 to 3 months if they use their vehicle in an urban setting, such as around the city, where dirt and debris may quickly accumulate.

Also, if you are taking a trip on dirt roads, it is a good idea to clean your engine compartment and the vehicle’s exterior when you return. Dirt roads can be tough on an engine compartment and vehicle pain itself.

If you are driving in a more rural or natural environment where dirt and debris are not as often exposed to the engine bay, we recommend washing the area every 4 to 6 months. But, again, this can vary depending on how often you use your vehicle!

How Do you Degrease a Car Engine?

Washing an engine with dish soap and water can help remove some dirt and debris, but it may not thoroughly degrease the engine. If your engine bay is extremely dirty or has excess oil or grease buildup, we recommend using a degreaser before washing it.

A degreaser is a chemical that breaks down oils into smaller components that are more easily remove debris. They can be found at most automotive stores, and you spray them on the affected area and let it sit for several minutes before spraying it clean.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Simply Green is a good choice for degreasing your engine. It is entirely safe for all engine components and breaks down grease well.

If you are unsure what type of degreaser to use for your engine, go to an auto parts store. Auto part stores like AutoZone and O’reilly’s can help you find the best degreaser for your engine!

Click here to see the Simple Green Degreaser on Amazon.

In Closing

Car detailing series : Cleaning car engine using a towel, Can You Wash An Engine While It's Hot?

Overall, it is a good idea to clean your engine every once in a while. It helps avoid rusting and any clogging caused by the debris. However, be sure not to clean your engine bay when your engine is hot.

Keep in mind that if you feel any heat coming from the engine, then it isn’t safe to spray with water. Also, remember if you use a pressure washer, then don’t get too close!

If you like this article, then you should also read:

How To Clean A Catalytic Converter

5 Of The Best Fuel Injector Cleaners For Diesel Engines

9 Best RV Toilet Cleaners For Any Rig [Motorhomes, Travel Trailers Etc.]

What type of degreaser do you use to wash your engine? Leave us a comment below!

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