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I just recently bought a k&n cold air intake for my commander (It should hopefully arrive today) and to go along with it I want to clean my engine, more specifically the alternator and the engine block. I already cleaned all of the plastic parts which now look great but I haven't been able to clean the metal ones. I bought 'lectra-motive' which said it was a de-greaser and electric parts cleaner (such as the alternator) and basically it was a waste of $9. Any suggestions? (I'm 16)
 

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A bottle of Simple Green! Maybe a brush and rags, if you want to get it sparkingling.

Only wash the engine while it is cold, an engine at operating temp being spray down with cold water can cause hot metal to crack.

Some degreasers contain chemicals that can cause aluminum to discolor, simple green does NOT. Simple green can be bad for aluminum if you leave it on and do NOT wash it away.

Just spray down the whole the engine and compartment with the Simple Green, let it soak in for 20 minutes, then douch out everything with the hose. If you have some built up gunk, you may have to take a brush to it and repeat with the simple green and hose.

After washing, start the motor and let it warm up and it will boil off/ evaporate all the water.

The risk is water can get into areas that could cause ignition problems or shorts, but that is rare, the connectors are well sealed, and if you get rough running from water in ignition parts, it usual goes away after a day, after all the water is boiled out.
 

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I live in a very dusty area and drive on dirt roads several times per month. The engine bay gets really dirty! My cleaning routine starts with my leaf blower. You'd be surprised at the amount of dirt, leaves, dried up bugs , etc. the blower gets out. As needed, I also use simple green. I take a cheap ($10) garden sprayer, fill it with about half gallon of simple green and spray the engine bay down. The long nozzle of the sprayer lets me put the simple green in nooks and corners difficult to reach wth a spray bottle. After 15-20 minutes, I use a garden sprayer set on "rain" setting (it sprays water in a medium strength stream) and give the whole thing a thorough wash. After, I start the engine and let it run about five minutes, or so. Finally, I dry the plastic bits off and clean and oil the hood lift whatchamacallits and the hood latch.
 
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