Do Not Steam Clean Your Engine

I get asked a few times a month about steam cleaning a car engine and how it should be done. Well, I am not a fan of steam cleaning and my answer is always…no, don’t do it.

I have a few reasons, and they are listed here.

1. Your engine does not care or even know that it is dirty. It will not run better, smoother, cooler or last longer if you clean it.

2. You run the risk of doing more harm that good. High pressure water sprayers have a tendency of getting water inside electrical parts that are meant to stay dry. Yes, there is some water than gets sprayed on the engine when driving in the rain but not under pressure like a car wash.

3. I get nervous when I inspect a used car for my customers and the engine is clean and spotless. What are you trying to hide from me? An oil or coolant leak? Rust damage? It just sends the wrong message.

I made this short video with an alternative to steam cleaning your engine, and I hope you try my suggestions yourself and let me know what you think. Leave comments below, Facebook likes appreciated.

Posted in: Oil Leaks

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."
  • Austin Davis

    There are other products that are similar but in my opinion not as effective, but in your case might be your only option. I would talk to your local auto parts store and ask them what they would recommend. Try to find a product that does not need water to wash it off.

  • sujan

    Wish I could use CRC’s Brakeleen, but its sale is banned in CA. Any other options? I need to clean the engine in the hopes of identifying the source of an oil leak.

  • Austin Davis


  • Janice

    Very informative video, thanks, you handsome devil!

  • Austin Davis

    Thanks Danny

  • Danny

    I really enjoyed both videos, I always seem to learn something new from you Austin.

  • Austin Davis

    Great comment Ken, thanks for posting it.

  • Ken

    I agree that hi pressure engine washing isn’t the best idea. I do have a problem with saying what am I hiding because my engine is clean. I do spend time cleaning my engine. I do so mostly by a well wrung out soapy microfiber cloth, then clean with a wet microfiber towel. If my valve cover lets say sarts to leak I can see that right away, and replace the gasket. I take the air box off to clean it and so on. There are good reasons to keep your engine clean, and he right way to do it. Keep it clean from day one so you don’t need to use drastic measures to get it clean. I also like the use of brake clean for when I do need extra o get an area clean. I can tell you my car is well taken care of md a clean engine bay is just part of it. My brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, transmission, differential get changed under the high use recommendations. I like to have it clean so I can see oil, cracks in Jose or belts or so on easily. Thank you for your posts and ime you share.

  • Austin Davis

    Thank you!

  • Austin Davis

    Awesome Al, thanks very much for sharing your comments!

  • Al Grumbley

    Your video is fantastic! I love all your advice, you are the best mechanic ever! I have saved 1000s of dollars by following your advice, sometimes we forget that information is power and when it comes to our cars there is no better weapon against crooked mechanics, thank you for sharing your knowledge and recommending great ways to maintain our cars in great shape without doing the wrong thing, I wish I lived near you so that I could take my car to you always. Greetings from Michigan!

  • George

    Good to know because it seems like a good thing at the beginning, but reading this article I can see why it is not, thanks for posting this you really have articles for everybody.

  • Nathan

    These are all good reasons not to steam clean the car engine, I also had the idea that steam cleaning was not a great idea because humidity and water can get into car parts that are meant to stay dry, still is also good to know that cleaning the engine won´t make it better in its performance.

  • Austin Davis

    Thanks for your comment Louise, happy cleaning.

  • Louise

    Thank you very much for writing this article, you would think that cleaning is always good, but sometimes it isn´t and these reasons are really good reasons so I will follow your advice.

  • Austin Davis

    Thanks for your comment Tony, have a great day!

  • Tony

    hi, i just wanted to thank you because you just saved me a couple of hundred dollars. I was planning on having my engine steam cleaned after my mechanic told me my car would run better and even I would save on gas!! Can you believe him?? Thank God I found your site.