Keep Your Engine Bay Clean There's nothing like a clean engine bay to make an auto enthusiast happy. It makes your car more enjoyable, easier to work on and easier to identify the source of fluid leaks. Mechanics have said that they's much rather work on a clean engine but I don't know if that means they do a better job.

There are lots of different opinions about how to properly clean an engine bay. Do you use high pressure? Should the engine be running? Do you have to cover electronics? One pro detailer I talked to carefully uses high pressure with the engine running. He covers the electronics on older cars, but says that newer cars are better sealed.

Maybe I'm a chicken, but I like to take a conservative approach in the way I clean my engine. Here's what I did with my '97 M3 after I bought it with 58,000 miles on it.

The engine bay wasn't awful. I'm not going for show car clean, but it did take some work to bring it up to my enthusiast standards for a recreational car. I used a degreaser, a few simple brushes, some elbow grease and a firm stream of water. Once I GOT the engine bay clean, it now takes just a little regular effort to KEEP it clean. Here's how I do it.

I start the engine and spray soapy water on it. If it's a little grimy I'll use an environmentally friendly degreaser like Car Planet's all purpose cleaner. While I let it sit I use a brush on the hood insulation to remove dust and keep it looking nice. I like using a hose attachment that allows me to adjust the stream to one that's gentle, but firm enough to get the job done. I then shut off the engine and I use brushes and spray again where necessary.

If the engine is warm the water will dry more quickly but I still like to use a towel to prevent water spots in obvious places. It's up to you, but I sometimes use some kind of rubber cleaner and dressing to keep things looking nice. I like to give special treatment to the hoses, applying the dressing by hand with a disposable glove.

Here's one last tip: If you have a cold air intake be careful that you don't get water sucked in to your engine. We hope that was helpful for you. And it you're a German car enthusiast we'd like to invite you to, "Celebrate your passion with AutoWerks of America."