Looking after your car is important, especially as they are a reflection of the way we see ourselves. We want our cars to impress people, and that’s why so many of us spend great amounts of time washing and caring for them.
Just as the exterior of your car needs a clean, and even the interior seats and floors, you also need to think about the engine. This will also find itself in need of a good scrub, and it is possible to pressure wash it in a safe and effective manner.
Stay awhile and find out how you can get your car engine (and the rest of it) looking spiffy and new again.
- How to Pressure Wash Your Car and Engine
- Final Thoughts
How to Pressure Wash Your Car and Engine
Now you’re ready to get into the cleaning, we thought it was best if we expanded our engine cleaning guide to include the rest of your car.
You should be giving your car a quick wash regularly, and by that we mean by hand. The results are great, and you can check out our fantastic step by step guide to the process below.
What You Will Need:
- Pressure washer
- Nylon brush
- Car-wash soap
- Two or three buckets
- Drying towel
- Glass cleaner
- Wheel cleaner
- Scrubbing Brush
- Car wax
- Applicator towel
- Buffing towel
- Vacuum cleaner, car upholstery attachment
- Interior cleaner
1 Step One: Washing the Exterior I
Take the buckets and fill one with water and the other with a mixture of car washing soap and water. This provides you with both a washing and rinsing bucket to keep things organised and provide optimal cleaning.
Then, grab the sponge and dunk it into the soapy mixture. Give it a quick squeeze, and then proceed to use it to wipe away the dirt and grime from the exterior of your car.
Grab a fresh sponge and dip it into the bucket filled with plain water. You can then use this directly on the car to rinse the soap off. This will remove the main bulk of grime, but there will probably be a few mucky spots left. That’s where the next step comes in.
2 Step Two: Washing the Exterior II
Grab your pressure washer and the user manual, paying careful attention to the instructions to ensure that you are using the right settings and attachments for your car. After all, if you use a jet that is too powerful you run the risk of damaging the paint job.
Once you have it on the correct setting, you can go ahead and use it over the whole of your car. This will rinse thoroughly, and you can even pour some of the car washing soap into the detergent section of the washer for those really stubborn areas.
As an additional fact, using the wide spray will also reduce the drying time – especially if you are already washing it on a warm day.
3 Step Three: Washing the Engine
Now you can use the pressure washer to focus on the engine. It is important to ensure the engine is completely cool before you wash it, and you should also start by scrubbing a degreaser into the engine with a nylon brush to loosen stubborn grease that has built up over time.
Ensure that all the electrical components are covered with a saran wrap (or something similar) before you use the pressure washer. This will protect them from damage.
Once the detergent has settled, you can use the pressure washer. Ensure that it is on a fine and soft spray as this will ensure the electrics are not blasted by a strong shot of water. If you have the kind of pressure washer where the flow cannot be adjusted, make sure you just stand as far back from the engine as possible to soften the flow.
Carefully rinse the degreaser off the engine, and once this is done you can use a microfiber towel to dry it off. You might also want to use this to scrub any stubborn spots that were missed.
4 Step Four: Washing the Wheels
For this step, you will need the scrubbing brush. Use it to loosen the dirt found in the tyre gaps, and you’ll find that there is a lot because our cars are magnets for it every time we drive.
Once done, you can grab the pressure washer and place it on the correct setting for your wheels – which you will find varies between makes and models.
You can use the pressure washer to remove the loosened dirt from the tyre gaps, but also on your hubcaps to get them looking shiny and new. If you find that there is still dirt left, simply rept the process, but consider using a toothbrush instead of a scrubbing brush as these tend to have a narrower reach.
5 Step Five: Drying the Exterior
Now that it’s washed, you can focus on drying your car. Grab a microfiber towel and use it to gently go over the surface of the car, absorbing excess moisture.
Once you have passed over the entire car, wring the towel out to prevent it from getting saturated. You can then take a second towel and repeat the process to ensure it is completely dry.
6 Step Six: Wax and Polish
A damaged paint job is expensive to get fixed, and so it needs to be protected. You can use wax or sealant for the job, and this will work effectively to prevent scratches and chips.
Just make sure the car is completely cool to touch before you apply it. Otherwise, you will find that your wax/sealant solidifies. The applicant pads you use should also be soft and non-abrasive to avoid any damage. It is easiest to apply liquid wax/sealant with this method.
You should only wax one area at a time to ensure even coverage. Use the applicator pad to spread a thin layer of wax into the paint using slow circular movements. Then, let the wax dry for a few minutes before using the buffing cloth to, well, buff it out.
This will provide it with the kind of shine that says you have your life together. It should be waxed and polished every couple of months to keep on top of the protection and shine.
7 Step Seven: Cleaning the Interior
Grab your vacuum cleaner, as well as any car cleaning attachments you have, and give the entire interior a thorough once over. You should also remove the floor mats and shake them outside of the car.
This will remove any loose dirt and debris. Then, lay them flat on the drive and hold them down with your foot while you vacuum them (if carpet) or wash them with soapy water and rinse with clean water (if rubber).
You can then vacuum the seats, ensuring that you get right between them and into any hidden crevices that crumbs and coins might enjoy falling into.
If the carpet inside your car is particularly grimy, you can pick up a shampooing machine that will scrub them with detergent. This works wonders on stubborn stains, and leaves your car carpet looking brand new again – as well as smelling rather nice.
Grab a disinfectant wipe and give the dashboard, steering wheel, doors, and any other plastic areas of the interior a wood clean. This kills bacteria and also leaves you feeling better about touching everything next time you head out for a drive.
For those who dream of reliving that glorious new car smell, you should also vacuum the ducts regularly. This keeps them clean and free from dust, as well as providing that glorious aroma.
8 Step Eight: Glass
Dirty and fogged glass can easily become a danger while you are driving, especially if it starts obscuring your vision. Take a good quality glass cleaner and spray it on the interior and exterior of your car windows and windscreen.
Once this is done, grab a clean microfiber cloth and wipe it down in a fluid up and down movement. You can use this method on your wing mirrors and headlight casings as well, ensuring everything is clear at all times.
You must remember that your ability to see while driving is incredibly important, and you can face fines from the police or points on your license. Always ensure that your windows, windscreen, and mirrors are clear.
9 Step Nine: Leather
If you have leather in your car, you will need to pay a little extra care and attention to it. Additionally, it should be noted that most leather used in modern cars has a thin layer of vinyl that covers it for added protection and durability.
For these seats, a leather conditioner is not as important. While it can still be used, it is not needed as often to keep your seats in good condition.
Once you have checked if they are layered with vinyl or unprotected, you can use a cloth to gently wash the seats with the leather cleaner. Once this is done, a clean cloth can be used to wipe away the excess and essentially rinse it (all without water).
Leather cleaner should be used four times a year, and conditioner can be used more frequently on unprotected seats. To prevent dirt and grime from building up, you can also vacuum the seats regularly to keep them maintained. Just remember to use a soft brush for vacuuming to avoid scratching the leather.
Is it Safe to Use a Pressure Washer on Your Car Engine?
Yes, it is safe to use a pressure washer on the vast majority of modern engines. Many of them have water resistant coatings and protection, and the addition of saran wrap for electrical components adds to the safety level. However, you should always check that your specific car can have its engine pressure washed safely before doing it.
Are Car Engines Waterproof?
No, car engines are not waterproof. Instead, they are water resistant which means they can survive in a light shower of water but not something heavy and torrential. This is why it is recommended that you use a fine and light spray from your pressure washer. It gets the engine clean without risking any damage.
Can I Wash My Engine While it is Hot?
No, you cannot wash your engine while it is hot. This can cause rapid cooling, which is damaging to the engine in the sense that it can cause the casing to crack and break open. This can end up costing you a large sum of money to fix, so always make sure it is completely cool before you wash it.
How Often Should I Clean My Car Engine?
Cleaning your car engine should be done every six to twelve months to keep it in top condition. If you live in a harsh environment, it should be cleaned every three months to help remove any build-up of seasonal debris that may cause issues if left. This includes things like sand, dust, dirt, and snow.
Taking care of your car is important, and knowing how to do it right is important if you want to avoid damage. The engine is especially important as doing it incorrectly can lead to major damage to the electrical components within your car.
However, it is also important to keep your engine clean so that it runs smoothly, and that’s where this guide comes in and helps.
What was your engine cleaning experience like? Did you follow our guide, or do you have your own advice that you would like to see added to this guide? We love hearing your feedback and methods, so make sure you leave us a message in the comment section below.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.