This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
Seventh in a series...
Now you have your engine steam cleaned and you want to get more grease and dirt out of the engine. There are four primary areas of your engine to attack at this stage. The sheet metal on the sides/front, the painted sides/shelves, the fan/fan shroud and the trickiest - the engine parts. There are many more areas to clean, but lets take this in stages or you might get overwhelmed. We will cover in this article the sheet metal and painted areas of the engine. Cleaning the engine parts will probably be an article in itself, well see.
The sheet metal is probably the easiest to clean. You got most of the grease off when you steam cleaned the engine. A trick I found that works on removing old built up grease is WD40. This works as a great grease dissolvent. Take some WD40 and spray it on the sheet metal. WD40 will not harm your engine, so dont worry about getting it on something. You will want to spray enough WD40 to cover the grease, but not swim in it. However, if you do get too enthusiastic, too much doesnt harm anything except your pocket book.
Let the WD40 sit there for a few minutes and then take one of these old toothbrushes I have talked about before and work the toothbrush on the liquid in small circular motions. This will loosen most of the old dried grease cohabiting in your engine. Work the toothbrush in the crevices and edges along the sides of the engine. Next, make sure you have plenty of paper towels, some disposable gloves (it is a dirty job) and a wastebasket. Take the paper towel and wipe the WD40 from the sheet metal. Go over the area with paper towel until you feel you have gotten most of the grease. Grease can be very stubborn and you will probably have to go over the same areas once or twice again to get all the old grease. Now take a citrus or Simple Green type cleaner (others work too, but I like these two products) and spray the area. Take another old toothbrush and use the same circular motion on the liquid. Use paper towel to wipe the area down, making sure you get the crevices and under the lips of the metal. This will pick up more "stuff" and remove the oily sheen from the metal. This is probably the most gratifying part of the job. The metal gleans and you can wipe you fingers along there and not have to wear gloves. If your metal paint is in bad shape, you may want to entertain the thought of painting it. This is what we did, however you have to take the engine out in order to do it properly.
You can use products other than WD40 and some work pretty good. I have had such good luck with it, I do not use anything else on old dried stubborn grease. By the way, WD40 works great on cleaning door hinges, latches pins etc
The next area of attack will take longer and needs more patience. You steamed cleaned the engine and tried to get most of the yucky greasy stuff off the painted areas. Dont be too concerned if you did not get it completely clean. The rough paint and crevices make this a bear to clean and maintain. The toothbrushes are especially handy for these rough areas. Spray the citrus or Simple Green cleaner on the paint, let it sit for a few minutes before putting your toothbrush into action. Use the same circular motions we have discussed before to work the dirt and grease from the paint. Be careful not to rub too hard, the paint may be old and can chip off. It is always a good idea to have some touch up paint in the garage, just in case. If you need touch up paint, go to a good automotive paint store and theyll do a color match for you. As you work the toothbrush, spray more cleaner on the area. This will add new cleaner to attack recently uncovered dirt and grease. Paper towel does not work that great on this part of the engine except to mop up the excess cleaner. Do not try to rub the paper towel as it will shred and become a big mess. Use an old towel or Handy Wipe that you can dip in a bucket to rinse and use again. Make sure you get under the motor mounts and way in the back. The area under the oil filler is a perfect hotel for grease and dirt, kicked up from the fan. Another area that gets forgotten is under you deck lid. This gets an oily film on it from the engine as heat, water, dirt and other materials are mixed together and then rise up to rest under the deck lid. Once you have gone over the painted surfaces, go over them again. The second pass will clean up any old debris that was not picked up the first time and you will be surprised how much cleaner it will look. If any paint flaked off, this would be a good time to touch up the paint. The area is clean of dirt and grease so the paint will adhere to the surface much better and will not flake off the next time you clean it. You noticed I did not say to use WD40. I do not use the WD40 on these areas because the rough surface traps more WD40 than I am able to clean up. If you have nothing to loose and the surface is a mess, give the WD40 a shot. Just make sure you use the soapy cleaners to clean it all up. WD40 has petroleum base, which could keep new paint from adhering and attract more dirt in the long run
Next time well talk about cleaning the fan and fan shroud area. The fan is an area that needs constant attention and I will cover some of the moving parts around the fan shroud as part of this article.