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3 dos and don'ts for cleaning your engine compartment

The fit and finish of a car's exterior often gets all the attention, and most gearheads will debate polishes and paint protectants for hours on end. If you want to find who is really detail-oriented at a car show, don't look at the hood—look under the hood. A spotless engine bay is tough to achieve and even harder to maintain. It's worth it, though, because a clean engine compartment is not only attractive but also conducive to spotting any leaks or issues when they start, rather than leaving them to be camouflaged by grime.


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Got a point-style distributor? Grab a plastic shower cap and a zip tie. Pull the cap down over the cap and wires as far  down as you can get it and snug it up with the zip tie before you get anything wet. And if you have any anodized parts like A/N hose ends or rocker covers, stay away from carburetor cleaner. It tends to strip the dye off of aluminum, leaving it streaky. I've had luck using 409 and an old toothbrush getting grime off of intake manifolds and cylinder heads. By the way, WD 40 is also an excellent solvent for cleaning slightly oily surfaces. Scrub the parts gently and wipe them dry. Allow the vapor to dissipate (about fifteen minutes) and go cruise.

Intermediate Driver