Does your engine bay contain harmful contaminants that need your attention? Here are the steps you’ll need to take to restore your Jeep Wrangler.By Charlie Gaston – November 25, 2015

This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).

The truth is you probably won’t need to clean your engine bay unless you’ve spent considerable time on the trails, or own a well-worn early model year Jeep Wrangler. In the latter case, the passing of time could have led to the presence of dangerous rust pockets along the engine bay, which you or a professional auto detailer would need to clean the bay to reduce long-term damage. In most cases, this is a job for the everyday DIY-er, with exception taken if high levels of corrosion are present. Here are our best tips for getting the job done well and protecting surrounding parts in the process.

Materials Needed

  • Hose or power washer
  • Cleaner/degreaser
  • Plastic bags
  • Microfiber cloths

Step 1 – Turn off engine and disconnect battery

  • Turn off your engine if it’s not already off.
  • Pop the hood of your Jeep Wrangler and disconnect the battery, starting with the negative cable (black) followed by the positive (red).
  • Remove the connectors, and then pull the battery from your jeep using your hands.

Figure 1. Disconnect the battery, one cable at a time.

Step 2 – Protect the delicate bits

If you have an aftermarket air intake, wrap your open air filter with plastic bags. If there are any easily exposed or damaged wires, wrap them as well. Take your time to evaluate any areas that are susceptible to damage.

Figure 2. Check your bay for things to protect.

Step 3 – Choose the best cleaner

The market is flooded with choices, but our top picks are:

  • Simple Green Automotive Cleaner: the product needs about one to two minutes to work, and lifts mud as well as desert dirt so well that it requires little more than a paper towel or hose for removal. You can also dilute Simple Green with water (50/50) when tackling less difficult jobs.
  • Gunk Engine Cleaner: the product has a strong smell, but delivers excellent results for long-term shine.
  • Formula 409 Heavy-Duty: the product is easy to use and offers effective cleaning action for your engine bay.
  • WD-40: this inexpensive product works well and is commonly available; instructions are easy to follow and the cleaning agents work in minutes.

Apply the cleaner/degreaser to your engine bay, and then wait for it to take affect. Begin scrubbing all contaminants from your engine bay using a detail brush or microfiber cloth for simple jobs.

Figure 3. There are a number of Super Green Automotive products on the market.

Step 4 – Remove contaminants

You have a number of options here. You can hose down your partially covered engine bay, or use a power washer for highly pressured mechanical spray; this option offers more control and power. Make sure to remove all contaminants and product residue before drying your engine bay by hand using a microfiber cloth.


Figure 4. Test the strength of the power washer against the ground before using.

Featured Video: How to Detail an Engine

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