Engine wash & engine detail in the Philippines: Which is better?

Updated Aug 04, 2020

If you are still undecided about which method to go for, this article is for you.

If you are reading this, you are probably amongst those who are crazy about cars just like me, and so it's very likely that you might want to hear about how to properly clean one of the most important components, the car's engine. Also, I want to demystify some old myths on how to maintain a modern automobile, as well as provide 2 popular methods and let you make to your own decision.

a car's engine

The most sophisticated part of any vehicle

1. Engine wash

Engine wash is many people's favorite method when it comes to car cleaning, partly because it is a service provided by almost all carwash shops in town. It takes less than an hour to finish and the price is relatively cheap (ranging from P100 to P500, depending on your region). Everything looks great, except for one thing, there is still a question mark hanging over the safety of this method.

If I were you, I would be worried about my engine being blasted with high-pressure water, especially with all the sophisticated technology integrated inside. Some shops do attempt to cover the sensitive parts like ignition coils, tranny vent, fuse box, airbox intake, distributor, battery terminals, computer box etc...but we cannot be 100% sure if the water won't reach those parts and inflict serious corrosion, damage, or gradually affect the engine's performance. Consequences might not arise immediately, but months or years afterward.

If you still want to go for an engine wash, Philkotse.com will give a guideline:

1.1. Preparation:​

  1. Microfiber Cloths
  2. Environment-friendly/citrus-based spray degreaser
  3. Toothbrush(s) and a nylon brush
  4. Some trash bags to cover electronic parts
  5. Electrical tape to secure plastic bags
  6. High water pressure pump designed to wash cars, (with an adjustable nozzle)
  7. Air Blower
  8. Detail spray
  9. Protectant spray

Note: Read the car's instructional manual thoroughly or consult your dealer about sensitive electronic components inside your engine before soaking your car wet. Knowing everything about your car beforehand will faciliate you on how to properly approach the job.

>>> Read more:

A car engine's being washed by water

Hose you engine down with water

1.2. Execution:

Whether you choose to wash your baby alone or go to a local car wash business, make sure that you have discussed the situation with the owner and that they have the necessary equipment for the job. Also, make sure that proper procedures are rigorously performed to prevent water leakage from occurring.

The first step would be to cover the electronic parts with trash bags taped together by electrical tape, then dust dry dirt with a soft nylon brush before spraying degreaser on places with hard dirt. Avoid spraying on your belts.

Note: If your car is one of those discontinued models, you should detach the battery for extra precaution. It is not advisable for new models as it may impair or disable some features which will need to be restarted at the dealership.

Wait for a while for the degreaser spray to do its job then wash it all out. With tight and tougher areas, now it's time to use the toothbrush. Pre-adjust the spray nozzle to make a low-pressure, more gentle stream of water to avoid damaging the engine. The general rule is if your palm can handle the water pressure within 15-20 centimeters or 6 inches of the nozzle, congratulations, you are on the right track.

Some shops still have the old-fashioned method of using strong soaps and industrial solvents to wash the engine, and they hose the engine down with over pressure. To be honest, those methods are too risky for any kind of electrical machines and can inflict serious damage to your car. Besides, industrial chemicals can make plastic segments fade and become brittle over time.

a man using a cloth to wash the car's engine

Be extra cautious with the engine

Once you get rid of the gunk, move on to the next step, drying out your car. Before removing the plastic bags, draw out excess moisture from all parts of the engine with the prepared microfiber cloths and the air blower, then finish off by a detail spray bottle and protectant spray for plastic/rubber parts. This will prevent water collecting on painted areas and those with composite materials. When working with the vulnerable parts that stay uncovered, make sure you spray the detailer fluid onto the cloth first then proceed to wipe down carefully the parts. And remember to keep your eyes on the electrical connectors, those tiny bits can be very fragile if handled improperly.

That’s about it, now it’s time to hop on and give your auto a test drive to make sure that your engine is up and running.

a man using brush to dedust the engine

Carefully dust your engine using a brush

>>> You may also like to read: 7 surprising uses of vinegar for car cleaning

2. Engine detail

Engine detail is my go-to method for years whenever I need to get my engine cleaned. Although it’s harder to employ and requires a certain level of patience, the risk is reduced considerably due to this is a moistureless process.

Besides the abovementioned materials used for engine wash process, throw in a powerful vacuum, vinyl gloves and cotton swabs; minus the tape, pressurized water pump and plastic bags.

Firstly, protect your hands using the vinyl gloves. Next, use a dry paintbrush to carefully dust the area and vacuum it away. The cotton swabs are for hard-to-reach corners. When working with overlapping components, soak a cloth with Detailer solution and wipe down. Only use the degreaser if the Detailer spray can’t cut it.

For your information, there might be out-of-reach areas and parts and there is (sadly) nothing you can do about it, unless, of course, you dismantle your engine (just kidding, don’t do that). The last step is similar to the first method, which is to dress your rubber components with protectant spray.

*Note: After a thorough detail process has been done, you can also purchase belt dressing to protect and prolong the lifespan of your belts.

If you ask for my opinion, I’ve been using engine detail for many years and nothing bad ever happened. Even though this method will cost you more, it will actually save you money in the long run. I highly recommend you do it yourself as it will help enrich about your car maintenance.