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Old 10-13-2010, 10:57 PM   #1
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JK Engine Cleaning - Mud/Dirt/Oil

No shortage of information from people about this but I still don't know if this is safe or not. I need to clean the outside of my engine. Lots of light mud got sprayed up under my hood recently and it needs to come off. I want to do this right though and not risk doing a single bit of damage to the engine. I've seen lots of cleaners and engine degreasers (mostly recommended) to spray on and then wash off but spraying my engine even lightly with water seems to be a bad idea from most including myself. What's the truth about this? Is ok to do or not? Why are there so many "experts" saying it's ok and also don't do it?

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Old 10-13-2010, 11:15 PM   #2
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You drive in water every time it rains......... Just steer clear of the electronics and it should be fine. If you use a pressure washer, set it to stun, not kill....

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Old 10-13-2010, 11:19 PM   #3
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I've taken the hose to my 4.0 and it's still alive, just make sure it's not hot or you could crack a head or a block because of the temp difference, just make sure that you don't pour water into you intake and you'll be ok. Also might wanna cover your dist cap cause if that gets wet you won't beable to start it till it dries out >.<
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:23 PM   #4
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It's really just a choice you will have to make. I've personally been using wd40 for over 12 years with no I'll effects whatsoever. I spray everything down really well, except the belt, them lightly rinse it off. As soon as I'm done, I strategy it up and let it dry itself. Comes out looking showroom new. Since the wd stands for water displacement, I figure it keeps water out of the electrical stuff. Like I said though, it's ultimately up to you, but I've never had a problem with this method.
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:26 PM   #5
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Saw this video on youtube. People were saying to not get any water on your electronics but this guy is spraying the engine bay like its on fire. I see lots of cables and wires under my hood but what do you avoid? All of them?
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:35 PM   #6
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You don't lol most of the electronic connections under the hood should we water tight, atleast mine are, spraying down the electronics won't really hurt them just let it all dry before driving it if your worried. I spray the crap outa my YJs engine bay just staying clear of my distributer and if that gets wet it just needs to dry before it will start
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Old 10-14-2010, 08:15 AM   #7
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As soon as I'm done, I strategy it up and let it dry itself.
You "strategy" it up? What does that mean?
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Old 10-14-2010, 09:35 AM   #8
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"start it up??"

I've been PW all my cars engines for 30 years...no issues.....
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Old 10-14-2010, 10:15 AM   #9
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I'm kinda getting the feeling that light power washing your engine is ok but being mindful of electronics, alternator, and distributor cap. Does a dealership offer this service in their detailing department? Just curious because if something did go wrong, they would be responsible instead.
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Old 10-14-2010, 10:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Square_Eyes
I've taken the hose to my 4.0 and it's still alive, just make sure it's not hot or you could crack a head or a block because of the temp difference, just make sure that you don't pour water into you intake and you'll be ok. Also might wanna cover your dist cap cause if that gets wet you won't beable to start it till it dries out >.<
Not unless you have dyelectric grease on those fittings
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Old 10-14-2010, 10:57 AM   #11
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I've taken the hose to my 4.0 and the 3.8 many times. Not a problem so far.
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Old 10-15-2010, 08:22 AM   #12
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I meant start it up. Damned iPhone. One letter outta place and it throws up a totally different word.
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Old 10-15-2010, 08:45 AM   #13
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To ask the stupid question...

So how bad is the mud for things? I'm sure some compositions are worse than others... but as a generality...

I just know the farm trucks and my jeep have the interior walls of the engine compartment caked with mud/dirt/whatever... The engine probably is no better...
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Old 10-15-2010, 09:55 AM   #14
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To ask the stupid question...

So how bad is the mud for things? I'm sure some compositions are worse than others... but as a generality...

I just know the farm trucks and my jeep have the interior walls of the engine compartment caked with mud/dirt/whatever... The engine probably is no better...
It depends on where the mud is. It can cause uneven brake wear and tear if its dried onto your brake discs and it can cause corrosion or discoloration on other surfaces over time. Getting it off right afterward is the most important I think. Easier too. Not sure about places under the hood that it might affect?
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:46 AM   #15
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It depends on where the mud is. It can cause uneven brake wear and tear if its dried onto your brake discs and it can cause corrosion or discoloration on other surfaces over time. Getting it off right afterward is the most important I think. Easier too. Not sure about places under the hood that it might affect?
I really hate how fast mud can discolor the fenders on my JK. Seems like I go through a bottle of Back to Black every two months. I know I know don't wash her, but I would like the jeep to be somewhat asthetically pleasing when I attempt to upgrade in a few years.
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:13 PM   #16
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Just picked up some Purple Power and applied it to the undercarriage of my Jeep. Cleaned up nicely and got rid of the dried mud and dirt. Haven't tried it on the engine yet. Honestly, I don't know if I will clean the engine seeing as I still cant decide whether or not I can do it safely.
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:55 PM   #17
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Just picked up some Purple Power and applied it to the undercarriage of my Jeep. Cleaned up nicely and got rid of the dried mud and dirt. Haven't tried it on the engine yet. Honestly, I don't know if I will clean the engine seeing as I still cant decide whether or not I can do it safely.
Ive sprayed loads of engines down at a car wash including a discovery 2 which is full of electronic shit and ive never ruined anything or had a light come on.
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Old 10-15-2010, 05:02 PM   #18
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I'm also one that has "hosed down" the motor, long time now. If it's an aggressive wash down, I'm very careful of the electrical parts, and sometimes have the engine running.

I've had the best results from "orange" cleaners......plus I like the bio-degradable aspect.
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Old 10-15-2010, 08:11 PM   #19
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Another funny observation is that after using the cleaner and power washing the unders of my Jeep it now shifts smoother? Weird.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:25 AM   #20
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Just found this thread while I was doing a search as I just went 4 wheeling for the first time yesterday & I got a LOT of mud in my engine compartment. The main thing I'm worried about is the air intake box as I can see the mud down inside of that, too I have a 2013 JK & I unclipped the 4 clips holding the box cover on, but still can't get it off....do I need to disconnect it from the hose? Also, what is the best way to clean the intake box out? I will be replacing the filter as I'm sure that's probably full of mud, too. But did I possibly screw up my engine since the mud went into there? I was told to have the engine running while hosing it down....is that true? If so, how do I cover the intake box so I don't get water in there?
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:41 AM   #21
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You're not going to hurt anything. All the electronics are sealed. Connections are sealed. Put a good coating of dielectric grease in the plug boots and get to washing. I use a 50/50 solution of Orange Blast and water. First I'll wash off any loose dirt. Then give a good liberal dousing of the cleaner. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Then power wash it off. Been doing this for decades on motors of all manufacturers. At the most put a plastic bag over the air intake.

If you have mud in your air box then take the box off and clean it properly. Don't do it while it's still attached. You're asking for a darwin award if you do that.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:09 AM   #22
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ESP - Riccochet has it right.

Some perspective - I ride and, due to a lack of foresight, have been caught in some pretty heavy rain/water on my motorcycle. When I say heavy, I mean my bike is making a wake behind me and cars are staring at me like I've lost my mind. We're talking so heavy that I'm blind when I stop because all the water evaporating off the engine encases me in steam. I mention all this, because it's nearly impossible to ride in the rain or wash a motorcycle and not drench the engine...particularly if the bike doesn't have fairings or you take them off.

The important thing to remember is to make sure your spindly, wiry, tubey bits are properly secured/protected. This is more a concern with a pressure washer - basically, if the water is not separating components and then getting water in between them where it doesn't belong, you'll be fine. It's not usually the engine that is problematic - it's little things (like drenching your filter) that can cause you trouble. Think of it this way - prep your Jeep as you would for fording/snorkeling, and ensure you apply the water with care.

Also, getting a new set of shoes soon...make sure you take me with you wheelin' next time.
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Old 07-06-2014, 10:51 AM   #23
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Just found this thread while I was doing a search as I just went 4 wheeling for the first time yesterday & I got a LOT of mud in my engine compartment. The main thing I'm worried about is the air intake box as I can see the mud down inside of that, too I have a 2013 JK & I unclipped the 4 clips holding the box cover on, but still can't get it off....do I need to disconnect it from the hose? Also, what is the best way to clean the intake box out? I will be replacing the filter as I'm sure that's probably full of mud, too. But did I possibly screw up my engine since the mud went into there? I was told to have the engine running while hosing it down....is that true? If so, how do I cover the intake box so I don't get water in there?
I had the same problem...there are two screws that are at the very front around where the hood release is where your coolant line is being held. Pop the coolant line free and unscrew these two (10mm) if I recall. Then the 4 clips undone should come lose.

Cover the air intake box with a plastic bag as mentioned by others or blocking it with a towel may work???

Hope that helps
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:31 PM   #24
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You're not going to hurt anything. All the electronics are sealed. Connections are sealed. Put a good coating of dielectric grease in the plug boots and get to washing. I use a 50/50 solution of Orange Blast and water. First I'll wash off any loose dirt. Then give a good liberal dousing of the cleaner. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Then power wash it off. Been doing this for decades on motors of all manufacturers. At the most put a plastic bag over the air intake.

If you have mud in your air box then take the box off and clean it properly. Don't do it while it's still attached. You're asking for a darwin award if you do that.
Thanks for all the help, Riccochet....where can I pick up the dielectric grease....any auto parts store? Do I need to worry about the fuse box at all?
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:35 PM   #25
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ESP - Riccochet has it right.

Some perspective - I ride and, due to a lack of foresight, have been caught in some pretty heavy rain/water on my motorcycle. When I say heavy, I mean my bike is making a wake behind me and cars are staring at me like I've lost my mind. We're talking so heavy that I'm blind when I stop because all the water evaporating off the engine encases me in steam. I mention all this, because it's nearly impossible to ride in the rain or wash a motorcycle and not drench the engine...particularly if the bike doesn't have fairings or you take them off.

The important thing to remember is to make sure your spindly, wiry, tubey bits are properly secured/protected. This is more a concern with a pressure washer - basically, if the water is not separating components and then getting water in between them where it doesn't belong, you'll be fine. It's not usually the engine that is problematic - it's little things (like drenching your filter) that can cause you trouble. Think of it this way - prep your Jeep as you would for fording/snorkeling, and ensure you apply the water with care.

Also, getting a new set of shoes soon...make sure you take me with you wheelin' next time.
Thanks DJL....but what are my "spindly, wiry, tubey bits"? LOL Also, why would I need new shoes (are you referrring to tires or brakes)? I just put new DuraTracs on my Jeep about a month or 2 ago. And you're on.....the more wheelin' buddies, the better Here's what my engine currently looks like:
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:38 PM   #26
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I had the same problem...there are two screws that are at the very front around where the hood release is where your coolant line is being held. Pop the coolant line free and unscrew these two (10mm) if I recall. Then the 4 clips undone should come lose.

Cover the air intake box with a plastic bag as mentioned by others or blocking it with a towel may work???

Hope that helps
Ah, I would not have known about those screws! Thank-you so much Copperhead Guess I'll put a bag on the intake box & clean off the dirt around the screws so I can find them first, lol.
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:43 PM   #27
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I pressure wash it when I am at the carwash pressure washing all the mud off. I get back a few feet though so its not quite as concentrated. So far I havent had any issues and my engine stays nice and clean.

Most pro detailers will use a steam gun to clean engines as its a bit gentler, but the high heat really gets all the grease and oil off of everything and out of all the nooks and crannies. Really amazing what a guy can do with a high pressure steam cleaner under the hood.
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:59 AM   #28
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Thanks for all the help, Riccochet....where can I pick up the dielectric grease....any auto parts store? Do I need to worry about the fuse box at all?
Autozone. Permatex makes a decent dielectric grease. It's cheap for a tube. If you are feeling frisky then start pulling all of your electrical connections and applying some grease. At least to the seals on the connectors. It'll help keep things from getting wet internally and future peace of mind.
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Old 07-07-2014, 03:29 PM   #29
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Stuff a rag in the intake while cleaning. Easy to keep in place, and it blocks it off just fine. Just don't leave it there... You'll know if you do, the air filter won't pass a rag through it...

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