Engine Steam Cleaning

Reader Question

Austin, hello there bud. I was going to steam clean the engine in my car today and my friend told me he reads your newsletter and said I better talk to you first before I did it.

Wuz up?



Hey David,

Ya, your friend might have saved you some money and a lot of headache. I HATE engine steam cleaning for these reasons.

1. Your engine could care less what it looks like, so it will not improve performance or make it run smoother, cooler or better by doing it.

2. It sends up a ton of red flags when you are shopping for a used car. First question I ask myself is “what are they trying to hide”?

3. The likely hood that you will get water where water is NOT supposed to be is extremely high. There are tons of delicate electrical sensors that can really get hurt with high pressure water spraying on them.

I see at least 1 customer a month (brought in on our wreckers) from a car wash bay after they steam cleaned their engine…it looks gorgeous but won’t start now. It can cost you big bucks to repair and a lot of hassle and time loss.

Now, if you want to clean off some old (or new) engine oil leaks or some other kind of fluid leak than I would recommend you get a few cans of CRC BraKleen and use that instead.

CRC BraKleen does not need water, and dries almost instantly. It is non flammable so you don’t have to worry about washing it off or it causing a fire on a hot engine.

It will literally dissolve any fluid and it will evaporate away with almost no elbow grease from you.  The rubber hoses, air cleaner box and any other hard plastic stuff you can use a rag and some silicone spray to make them pop and shine again. Amorall of course can be used.

BraKleen can be bought at any parts store and I would recommend the part number 05089, it works best.






Here is the spec sheet from their website



Posted in: Exterior Care

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

    Yes, in most cases my method works great. If you want a spotless engine compartment you WILL need to have it steam cleaned or pressure washed with water and some kind of soap or solvent….but why?

  • Andrew

    Wow! I was considering cleaning my engine like this but reading this post I´m thinking lot different now, you´re right, by doing this you can harm the car and you can cover up some problem that needs to be seen .

  • Austin Davis

    You are most welcome, glad it was helpful to you. Brakkleener is MUCH easier and safer to use.

  • Andi

    I never knew that! Thanks for saving us money. I actually wanted to have it done to our truck as it is really greasy and gross under the hood. I won’t be taking the chance now. If cleaning it can’t change performance or help it in any way, I will stay clear of the steam cleaning and let it dirty:)You have saved me and my husband a few dollars since I started reading your blog! Thanks again!

  • Austin Davis

    Thanks for the comment, you are lucky I see too many customers in my shop with damage done from steaming cleaning their engines.

  • humberto festa

    hi.my car is 1990 chry. under the hood has never had a cleaning.a long time ago i had my cady engine steam cleand every thing came out clean had no problen. respectfully, gene