Engine Detailing Improves Used Car Value

by Don Elliott on April 24, 2012

Engine DetailingLift the hood at any new or used car dealership and you will see a sparkling clean car engine that looks like it is newer than the odometer might otherwise suggest. That is part of the value proposition. Auto auctions routinely detail the engine area as part of the auto reconditioning process, suggesting that even car dealers will pay more for a car that is clean inside and out.

The professionals in any quality auto detailing shop have an array of cleaning products and tools to do a first rate job under the hood. However, you can do a pretty good job right in your own driveway with just a little bit of effort.

Frankly, your car engine compartment is designed to fend off the elements, spilled oil, battery acid, and general gunk that splash around as you navigate through all kinds of weather and driving conditions. Cleaning your car’s engine compartment is primarily an appearance thing that can add used car value and make you feel a little better about your prized possession. It is also a good opportunity to take a check around your car engine for any obvious areas that might need repaired.

First, the car engine should be just a little bit warm to get the best results. Your engine area is pretty much watertight, but it is a good idea to wrap the distributor and any electrical devices with a plastic baggy to keep water under pressure from getting where it shouldn’t be. Remove any obvious leaves, pine needles, and debris from the bottom of the windshield area and inside of the engine compartment.

Next, apply car engine degreaser, available from any auto parts store for $4-5. Whether petroleum or water-based, degreasers are harsh chemicals sprayed onto the engine. Protect your eyes and skin when using the sprayed product. Spray all around the engine, down the sides, and into hard-to-reach areas. The chemical will do most of the work, but an old scrub or paintbrush can help knock off any accumulated dirt and oil build up in hard to reach areas.

Let the degreaser work for 5-15 minutes, depending on which brand you chose. Follow the instructions on the can. While waiting, rinse off any overspray that might have gotten onto painted fenders or chrome surfaces. The chemicals will remove any wax along with the car engine grease.

Using the garden hose with a spray attachment, spray down the entire engine compartment area, rinsing off as much of the degreaser as possible. With an old rag, wipe the obvious plastic and painted surfaces to prevent water spotting.

Some products recommend that you let the engine idle with the hood down to dry out the engine compartment. However, it is just as effective to run a few errands and use the heat of the engine and the moving air to dry things.

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