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How To's

Pressure Washing Your Car Engine

December 31, 2020

Keeping your car clean inside and out is one of the best ways to maintain its highest performance, but even the most meticulous car owners often neglect the area under the hood. The accumulated dirt, grease and grime that settles on the engine can negatively impact how well it functions. The carburetor and other vital components benefit from a thorough cleaning once in a while. However, this is a job that requires more than soap and water. If you’ve used a pressure washer before, you might want to cut through the gunk with its high-intensity spray.

Can you pressure wash your engine? The answer is yes, but don’t just open the hood and start blasting. Knowing how to pressure wash your engine is crucial not only for cleaning it, but also for protecting the sensitive electronics inside. The alternator, distributor and alarm system can be damaged by water, so follow the proper procedures. Here are some tips to help you pressure wash your engine bay.


How to Pressure Wash an Engine

  • Be gentle: The area under the hood is built to withstand a lot of punishment, but that doesn’t mean you should hit it with the highest PSI. Too much power can do more harm than good, so use at least a 40-degree nozzle and no more force than twice that of a garden hose. This will lower the risk of damage.
  • Protect your electronics: Before you get started, find the distributor, alternator, spark plugs, alarms and any other electronic elements. Cover these with plastic bags first, and try to work around them.
  • Use the right cleanser: Adding a degreasing solution to the water helps eliminate thick layers of grease and grime, though a general-purpose cleaner is fine for engines that are only dusty or slightly greasy. A number of these products are available, and they make a big difference compared to plain water.
  • Don’t get too close: Avoid the temptation to hold the nozzle against the surface. This can slam more-delicate areas with too much force. Instead, make sure to keep the wand at least 3 feet away from what you’re cleaning.
  • Dry as much as possible: Use microfiber towels to remove as much water as you can. If you can’t reach a certain area, let it drip-dry. The goal is to absorb most of the moisture so it doesn’t settle and cause corrosion. After drying, remove the plastic from the electronics and enjoy a showroom-quality engine bay.



There’s no better place to start than SIMPSON, the leader in pressure washers and related equipment. We have a wide range of household units to serve virtually any need. We also supply accessories and attachments to help get the job done. To learn more about everything we offer, browse our product line or get in touch today.