I like to raise the hood and see a clean engine.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

Here's another stupid question for you. I have a 1989 Ford Crown Victoria. I'm also one of these old geezers that likes to raise the hood and see a clean engine. Here's my question. Can I just turn my hose on the engine, or will that screw up half the electrical system? A couple of service managers have told me it's fine. But I recently read in the paper that you shouldn't do it. I would appreciate your advice.

TOM: Well, first of all Robert, you shouldn't believe everything you read in the paper.

RAY: The truth is there's no mechanical reason why you can't use a garden variety hose on the engine. The water won't hurt it. In fact, water splashes all over the engine everytime you drive in the rain.

TOM: But the reason we advise against it is because it's bad for the environment. The grease that you wash off your engine is a pollutant. And if it's not disposed of properly, it goes right down the sewer and into our rivers and streams.

RAY: So we recommend that you take your car to a place that steam cleans engines. You ought to be able to get it done for about twenty bucks.

TOM: Places that clean engines for a living are required to have grease traps. The traps collect all of the hazardous crud that comes off the engine, so that it can then be disposed of properly--ie. delivered to local fast food restaurants for use in deep frying!

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