Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated October 1, 2018)
If you have ever watched the old Tim Allen sit-com "Home Improvement" then you are familiar with the whole phrase "More power, arghh, arghh, arghh." No matter what you thought about his results in that show, there are times when this approach does seem to be the best possible solution. One example of this is when you are trying to clean your car's engine. There are times when you just cannot seem to get it clean with a regular hose or engine degreaser. In that case you might want to consider using a steam cleaner to do the job.
A steam cleaner is basically a high-pressure water system. You can get either a gas-powered or electric one, and they can be rented from just about any hardware store. A steam cleaner can be a great tool for cleaning an engine, but there are just a few things that you should keep in mind before utilizing one for the job.
First, keep in mind what year of vehicle you have. If you have one of the newer vehicles, typically something that was made after 1990, you need to be extremely careful if you use a steam cleaner. The modern car's engine has quite a few delicate electronic components that can easily be damaged. Either be extremely careful or, better yet, find another method of cleaning your engine. You also need to be sure of the power output on the equipment you are using. If you use something that is too powerful, then you are going to cause damage to your engine. Typically, the damage is to the belts or the electronic equipment and cables. It is best to follow the directions of the equipment that you get, to avoid causing problems that you might not have the means to fix.
Finally, when you do start to clean your engine, make sure that you are cleaning it in an area where the runoff can go without getting you into trouble. You will remove a lot of gunk, grime, oil, and dirt that has to go somewhere. If possible, do this at a car wash since they have the facilities necessary to process the contaminated water.
When you are ready to begin simply cover any delicate electronic equipment with plastic bags and duct tape, spray the engine down with engine degreaser, and follow the directions for the steam cleaner (they should have been provided by the company from which you rented or bought it).
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