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How to Clean the Engine Compartment of Your Volvo

wash engine

With summer in full swing, we tend to find ourselves outside washing our Volvos (and hopefully avoiding hated swirl marks). Secondary (to me anyway) is the interior… vacuuming and miscellaneous interior car cleaning. A distant third on the list is cleaning the engine compartment. Very distant. I often don’t even make it to interior.

So if you’re like me and Sleddriver who asked the original question in the Volvo Forums, you’re not an engine washing pro, so here are some tips by MVS Forums members CN90, bmdubya1198, belskee, Sommerfeldt and BeachWagon. Also, check out these engine cleaning products including degreaser.


I avoid power washer because the jet can shoot some 500 psi of water pressure.

For the 850, S70 engine: water can get underneath the spark plug boots —> misfire.

  • I have removed the cosmetic cover for good (it is sitting up on the garage shelf). This way I can make sure water does not get near the spark plug boots.
  • With engine cold or warm, spray some degreaser, wait a few minutes. I usually get a long wood stick (like a very long chopstick) and scrape the gunk away; then rinse it with a gentle stream of water.
  • If you don’t want water to go everywhere, then use a garden sprayer filled with water and clean it that way. It is more gentle.
  • I usually clean the engine before going somewhere, this way the hot engine can dry all the water used to clean it.

I haven’t cleaned my Volvo’s engine in a while, but I usually spray down everything with some degreaser, scrub it down with a soft brush, and use my electric pressure washer (probably 1,500-ish PSI, likely less, not sure) on everything. Just don’t focus the pressure washer on any area too long.

Of course, cover up sensitive things like the alternator and distributor cap.


I’ve always given a cold engine a generous bath of “LA’s TOTALLY AWESOME”, as found at the dollar store. Let it soak for around 20 mins and blast it off with a water hose jet nozzle. It removes a lot of aluminum oxide as well as all the grease and grime. Watch any printed surfaces that you may care about, it does remove some types of ink. That said, the engine will be near spotless with minimal effort and cost.

VRD: How Best To Clean Engine Compartment?

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