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What Is the Best Way to Clean an Aluminium Engine Block?

CarPart  ·  May 31, 2022

What Is the Best Way to Clean an Aluminium Engine Block?

Most people are familiar with the idea of an iron engine block sitting in their car. However, many vehicles now use aluminium engines instead, thanks to their many benefits. Still, aluminium is quite different from its iron predecessor, especially when it comes to cleaning.

Cleaning an aluminium engine block requires a gentle approach without using harsh chemicals and abrasives that can damage aluminium. Unfortunately, that means you’ll be doing a lot of manual scrubbing. Soapy water, a degreaser, a nylon brush, and a scouring pad are all you need to get started.

Keep reading this guide to understand better your aluminium engine block and what it takes to get it cleaned.

What Is an Aluminium Engine Block?

Many people still assume that their car has an iron engine block. That is because iron has been the primary material used to build engines in most cars for a very long time.

However, aluminium and aluminium alloys have become a much more popular material for manufacturers. That’s why most cars today have aluminium engine blocks, and your car might be one of them.

Aluminium engine blocks are much lighter than iron ones, and they handle heat much more effectively. On top of that, aluminium is also popular because it doesn’t rust, unlike iron engine blocks.

Despite their many benefits, aluminium engine blocks can be pretty challenging to clean. Aluminium can react negatively to harsh cleaning chemicals, including those sold for automotive use.

To make matters worse, there is no magic solution or one-size-fits-all cleaning product for cleaning aluminium engines.

So, if you want to remove any built-up dirt on your aluminium engine block, you will have to take a very gentle approach, with most of the work being done by hand.

No matter how challenging it becomes, cleaning is necessary as part of the upkeep, especially if you plan on painting aluminium engine parts.

What Can I Use to Clean My Aluminium Engine?

The first rule for cleaning an aluminium engine is to be gentle at all times and never use harsh chemicals, abrasives, and cleaning tools. 

If you decide to use chemicals or cleaning products, always test it on a tiny area of the engine first. That way, you can check if the material reacts negatively to the chemical before applying it anywhere else.

Bear in mind that there are plenty of industrial-level materials and tools you can use to clean an aluminium engine block. For example, cleaning aluminium engine cases by soda blasting an aluminium engine is a popular option that some workshops like to use.

However, not everyone has the access or resources to use those tools. So, here are some household items that you can use to clean your aluminium engine block:

I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: If you're ever unsure about the cleaning tools or supplies you use, always test it on a small inconspicuous part of the engine first. That way, you'll know if it's safe to proceed with the rest of the engine.

How Do You Clean an Aluminium Engine?

Once you’ve prepared all the items listed above, you need to know how to clean aluminium engine parts with them:

1. Spray Soapy Water and Scrub - Firstly, start by spraying some soapy water on the section you’d like to clean. Then use a nylon brush to scrub the area thoroughly and loosen up as much dirt and debris as possible. So, you might have to repeat this step several times until you achieve that outcome.

2. Apply Degreaser and Rub - Once you finish scrubbing with soapy water and your nylon brush, next comes the degreasing stage. Make sure that you’ve wiped the surface dry, then apply a degreaser and rub it with a dry cloth. You should give the degreaser some time to work before rinsing it off with clean water.

3. Scrub with Scouring Pad - After using soapy water and degreaser, you’ll likely find that only the stubborn stains remain. For those, you’ll want to take out the scouring pad to scrub them off as best as you can. Rinse and repeat this step as many times as necessary until you’re satisfied with how the surface looks.

4. Rinse and Dry

Give the engine's surface one final rinse and wipe it dry afterwards.

How Do You Remove Oxidation from Aluminium Engine Parts?

Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at how to clean aluminium engine corrosion. Even though aluminium does not rust, it can still suffer from oxidation over an extended period. So, this guide wouldn’t be complete without discussing how to clean oxidised aluminium engine parts.

You have three options for removing oxidation from your aluminium engine. The best one depends on how severe the oxidation has become.

To remove oxidation from aluminium engine parts, your options are:

  1. Washing the oxidation with boiling water or using a high-pressure water jet should remove some oxidation.
  2. If that’s not enough, you can apply a natural cleaner of vinegar and water. Remember to wipe off any excess vinegar and water to prevent damage.
  3. For particularly stubborn oxidation, you can use specialised chemical products. However, these chemicals tend to be quite harsh, so make sure to wear protective equipment when working with them.

For more valuable lessons like learning how to clean oxidised aluminium engine parts, you can check out the blog at CarpartAU!

By Ray Hasbollah

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