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Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guide - How to detail the engine bay to award-winning showroom condition

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guide - How to detail the engine bay to award-winning showroom condition

DISCLAIMER: Detailing the engine bay is not for beginners and it is recommended to be done by a professional. Inception Automotive Detailing will not be liable for anything that can happen should you do it by yourself. This is purely at your own risk.

While most of us routinely maintain our car’s engine to ensure that it is mechanically sound, we often overlook the cosmetic side. Though out of view for most of the time, we cannot avoid seeing the engine bay during a car show or even showing it off to somebody. Also, having a dirty engine bay increase the risk of the dirt being inhaled the car’s intake. While there is an air filter filtering the particles, there is a chance that some may pass though.

In this DIY guide blog post, I will teach you how to detail the engine properly to my award-winning standards. 

Here is a Genesis Coupe Engine bay that has been neglected for about two years:

The first thing you should do is to cover all water-sensitive areas. Most modern cars’ engine bays nowadays are weather sealed except for certain areas.

Some are:

Short Ram Intake Filter



Water-sensitive areas completely covered

For the following step, I have seen many people create a mistake already. Here’s why:

Many people would soak the engine first prior to spraying it with a degreaser. The problem of soaking the engine with water first is that it reduces the effectiveness of the degreaser breaking down the dirt and grime because it gets diluted with the water.

For my standards, I spray liberally a full concentration (depending on the condition of the engine) all-purpose cleaner throughout the engine bay. Once that is complete, let the cleaner settle down for about 30 seconds to a minute but do not let the product dry.

After 30 seconds to a minute pass, rinse the engine using a very light water pressure. Using a powerwasher is NOT recommended as the high pressure can mess around with the hoses and electricals. This step is called the pre-soak and rinse.

After the pre-rinse is complete, spray the whole engine bay again with the cleaner.

Once that is complete, use various detailing brushes to agitate all dirt and grime throughout the engine bay.

When finished, rinse the engine bay again.

At this stage, inspect the engine bay to see that all dirt and grime has been removed. If not, repeat the same step above.

When the engine bay is clean to standards, you can air dry the engine bay as shown in the picture below and/or remove all plastics covering the water-sensitive areas, close the hood, start the car and idle for about 10 minutes. By doing it this way, you can use the heat generated by the engine to dry off the water.

After this is complete, open the hood again and use a microfiber towel to dry anything that was missed out. You can use this stage to use the cleaner to remove any missed spots and wipe off with a microfiber towel.

Last but not least, use a spray or aerosol-based plastic and rubber dressing to give the engine bay that “new look” again!

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guide - How to maintain carbon fiber surfaces

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guide - How to maintain carbon fiber surfaces

As expensive carbon fiber is as an added option to vehicles from the manufacturer or aftermarket, it is fortunate that costly tools or products and intensive workmanship are not required to maintain its showroom finish.

For most carbon fibers, care and treatment is treated the same as painted surfaces. You can wash, decontaminate (clay), polish (if needed) and wax the carbon fiber.

The majority of the carbon fibers I have seen have a Polyester Resin Gel Clear Coat. The difference of the gel coat from the standard clear coat on painted surfaces is that it is very porous, will dry easily and oxidize quicker.

To prep your carbon fiber, you must wash the area and decontaminate (clay bar) it.

Here is a picture of my own neglected carbon fiber hood on my personal car. I have not polished this car in two years but routinely wash, decontaminate and waxed it.

As you can see, this is a very noticeable oxidation area on the hood. It is also known as “yellowing” by some car enthusiasts.

Just to show how severe and serious oxidation is for carbon fiber, I utilized a special paint microscope to thoroughly inspect the affected areas at a microscopic level. 

Severe oxidation on the carbon fiber.

Transition from the oxidized area to non-affected.

At this stage, you need to assess how affected your area is and determine what compound or polish you have to use to restore the carbon fiber to a showroom finish. You must start with a less aggressive foam pad and polish and gradually go more aggressive if needed be. I personally used a Flex XC3401 VRG Polisher, Lake Country White CCS Foam Pad and the Menzerna Power Finish 2500 to restore the carbon fiber's surface. Other polishes such as Optimum Hyper Polish, Meguiar's M205 can be used as alternatives.

A polishing machine is recommended to optimize restoration. A Porter Cable 7424XP is recommended for amateurs and novices, or a Flex XC3401 VRG for the experienced.

Using proper techniques and handling the polish and machine, you can finally see the lustre of the carbon fiber.

A polished area of the carbon fiber. A restored carbon fiber should reveal its weaves and patterns clearly.

A clean pad versus used pad when polishing the carbon fiber hood.

Fully restored carbon fiber hood.

The lesson in this blog post is that maintaining carbon fiber is not as intimidating as many think. However, it does require patience and time to do the work correctly. Start less aggressive and work your way up if needed be since it depends on the actual condition. 

Thanks for taking the time to read through the article, and if you have any additional comments or questions, please leave a reply in the comment box below.