Get Rid of the Gunk With These Best Engine Degreasers
Grease, grime, road debris, and worse can gunk up your vehicle’s power plant. Here are our top picks to get it looking like new.
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Driving your car every day means putting it through all kinds of wear and tear. And while you might notice exterior dirt and grime, your engine also deserves a glance. With fuel and oil moving through the engine, it can become a gunk- and grease-filled centerpiece under your hood. Fortunately, an engine degreaser can clean up all of that stubborn buildup.
But an engine degreaser doesn’t solely have to be used to clean up the gross, grimy residue left behind on your engine and its associated parts. These specialized cleaning solutions are pretty versatile — and you can use them on tools, equipment, and even leather upholstery. They’re particularly great for exterior car parts, surfaces, and components. So, if you’re looking for a convenient, capable cleaning product to add to your garage arsenal, an engine degreaser is the perfect pick, and we’ve got the best engine degreasers right here for you.
Aero Cosmetics Wash All Degreaser
- Safe for all surfaces
- Biodegradable formula
- Ideal for engines with a lot of plastic
- Not very strong
- Can damage tires
Chemical Guys Signature Series Orange Degreaser
- Can be diluted
- Pleasant scent
- Can etch aluminum at higher concentrations
Meguiar's D10801 Super Degreaser
- Doesn’t leave residue behind
- Can be used on leather seats
- No strong chemical smell
- Caustic to skin
- Must dilute to use
If you own a newer vehicle, it’s easy to walk past the engine degreaser and think that it’s just for people with old cars. Dust, dirt, and mud can get on any engine, and when it leaks you get a nasty caked-on mess in a hurry. The first things you’ll often see are smaller leaks. If you’ve ever discovered an oil leak many miles later, you’ll know the frustration of trying to scrape, wipe, and wash that baked-on gunk from the engine.
That’s where engine degreaser comes in. These products promise to remove all that sludge from the engine without requiring mechanical input on your part. I set out to round up the best products available. Some products are downright caustic on the wrong materials, and some are bad for plastic parts. Although I’ve done my best to detail these pitfalls, read the label and instructions and make sure you know what the cleaner is supposed to stay away from and test on a small part before you go spraying away.
To round up the best engine degreasers I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology. I evaluated a whole range of options before settling on the top contenders. Although I haven’t tested all of these, my choices are informed by consumer reviews, expert reviews, discussions on forums, and my institutional knowledge of the industry. One of the biggest challenges was finding products that were actually in stock. Start with the places I found but check around your favorite retailers when looking, as stock levels often vary. You’ll see some of the biggest names in the chemical cleaning and car care world and a few you may not have heard of, but all are focused on doing the job of degreasing your engine.
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Best Engine Degreaser Reviews & Recommendations
The Aero Cosmetics Wash All Degreaser is the best overall engine degreaser. The degreaser is effective and doesn’t have the downside of some harsh chemicals, making it ideal for a lot of different scenarios. If you’re looking for something effective that’s a good value, then the Chemical Guys Signature Series Orange Degreaser is a great choice.
What to Consider When Buying Engine Degreaser
There are many degreasers out there, and choosing between them often depends on how much you have to degrease and how serious the buildup is.
Types of Engine Degreaser
Liquid engine degreasers are the kind that come in a spray bottle and can often be applied more precisely than aerosol degreasers. These ones run the gamut of being products that you have to scrub, while others are some foam. While most have to be rinsed off with water, some don’t even have to be rinsed. These are often versatile, and can be sampled in smaller, cheaper, package sizes than committing to a gallon of something you might not ever use. Liquid engine degreasers, especially in the smaller sizes, are a great way to find out if a product is going to work without dedicating a lot of money — and garage cabinet space — to it.
If you’ve found a brand you like, then a concentrated engine degreaser is an excellent way to buy it. Concentrated degreasers of all varieties must be diluted, but the advantage over other products is they can be mixed in a variety of strengths.
If you want to just grab a can and go, aerosols are the pinnacle of simplicity. Choose one based on the level of grease and grime you’re dealing with. Get a heavy-duty product for those old neglected engine bays, and get something more versatile for your newer cars. Aerosols are simple and versatile, but don’t leave them in the sun, as the can is under pressure and could rupture.
When purchasing engine degreaser, how much you spend relates directly to how dirty the engine is you’re hoping to clean. Aerosol degreasers regularly run between $5 to $15 per can, but often more than one can is needed to get bigger jobs done. Buying the liquid stuff by the gallon can be more expensive but last longer because most of them are concentrated and must be diluted.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Can engine degreaser hurt belts?
Most of the products I listed come with cautions about rubber, which is what most belts are made of. When degreasing your engine, be careful not to soak the belts in degreaser, though water shouldn’t hurt them.
How do I rinse my engine after degreasing?
If you have a carburetor, you want to avoid spraying water into it. You should cover your alternator with a bag and avoid getting water in it, too. Aside from that, direct your water stream at the hard parts and generally avoid electrical boxes.
What do I do with the gunk that drips off?
Don’t just degrease your engine and rinse all that oil and gunk into the street. That’s irresponsible and could get you fined. Put down a sheet of heavy plastic to catch the big globs under the car, then roll it up and dispose of the debris properly once done.