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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-07-2011, 10:24 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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What fluids do you recommend for E39 engine bay degreasing, cleaning, & detailing?

In this thread today, the OP advocates cleaning the engine before working on the innards:
- A few observations from my cooling system, CCV, CPS project

cn90 suggested a particular external engine cleaner which got me thinking:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Simply wash the engine with "Purple Power"
Going to the bestlinks to see what other external engine bay detailing fluids had previously been recommended, I found a minor smattering of suggestions (simple green, steam, meguiars, soap & water, etc.).

Since there wasn't a single one-line summary for engine cleaners, I just now came up with this (keyword-rich) listing of potential threads for help in what/how to perform E39 engine bay degreasing, cleaning, and detailing.

- External engine degreaser, engine bay cleaning & engine compartment detailing (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

As always, if you have additional suggestions, or better links for how to detail your engine bay & what to use in doing so, please advise so that everyone benefits from your knowledge and experience.

BEFORE:


AFTER:
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  #2  
Old 04-07-2011, 10:39 PM
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chiefwej chiefwej is offline
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I spray any greasy areas with WD-40 and let it sit for some time, then wash engine w/ a wash mitt, hot water and Dawn dish soap. (It cuts oil and grease like crazy. It also strips wax if you get it on the exterior. It won't damage the paint, just remove all wax. In fact I use it to strip wax when I'm doing a full detail on the car.) Next I rise the engine with a gentle spray of hot water, blot dry with old towels and blow it off with a garden blower or air hose. If I'm doing a car show and want it to look really special, I mist it very lightly with WD-40 and let it set over night.

When finished it looks like this:



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  #3  
Old 04-08-2011, 03:52 AM
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Scrubbing Bubbles. It cleans and shines. Really.
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  #4  
Old 04-08-2011, 04:10 AM
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Is that a non-e39 engine compartment? It looks very different from mine. The picture shows two large flat topped enclosures on each side that appear to envelope the intake airbox on the driver's side and A/C inlets and windshield washer containers on the other side. Tha SAP also looks like it's mounted up high.

BTW, I use Fantistik for basic dirty & dusty surfaces and Simple Green for greasy spots. I also have a spray can of engine cleaner that I use for particularly dirty & greasy spots. Once a year in the spring, it gets Armor-All to gussy things up a bit.
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
Is that a non-e39 engine compartment?
I have no idea. It was a representative picture from 'one' of the DIYs for doing an engine detail.

Clicking on the 8 links found in my search, it was from 'this' link (8), dated Feb 28th, 2011:
- Car Care Forums: Meguiar's Online > Meguiar's Online Showcase > Show Off Your Latest Detail Work > 2003 BMW 325i > Recently completed a complete interior detail on this 325i

In that thread were listed a litany of cleaning fluids the OP, apparently a professional detailer, employed in cleaning that 325i (each with photos).

Quote:
The engine was one of the worst I have ever done so I lightly rinsed it with water then soaked it with FS Purple Power.

I closed the hood, blasted the entire vehicle with water and proceeded to foam it with 5oz of Super Soap & 5oz of Shampoo Plus.

Wheels, tires, & wells were degreased with Super Degreaser & Wheel Brightener then were foamed, agitated, then finally rinsed.

I scrubbed the engine compartment with a soapy water solution and a sponge along with various brushes.

While the car was wet I sprayed the entire body down with ONR clay lube ratio & clayed with Detailing Clay (Mild), then rinsed with water and followed up with Water Magnets to dry.

The following morning I finished the engine bay.

I dressed everything with Hyper-Dressing at 2:1.

The underhood pad was conditioned with Hot Shine Tire Foam.
Painted shuts were wiped with ONR.

I dry brushed & vacuumed the mats.

They were then lightly scrubbed with 3D Carpet shampoo & a brush.

Finally there were shop vac'd, lightly rinsed with water, followed by cotton towel drying.

This same process was used on the interior carpet as well.

Every interior surface was scrubbed clean with a small leather brush & All Purpose Cleaner followed by a wet terry cloth wipedown.

The leather was dressed with Gold Class Leather Cleaner & Conditioner. Vinyl was dressed with Natural Shine Vinyl & Rubber Protectant followed by a damp cloth wipedown to reduce sheen.

Wood & clear plastic recieved an application of Quik Interior Detailer. All crevice were brushed out & the jambs were wiped down with ONR.

Tarminator & a plastic card was used to remove this paint transfer.
#105 - Ultra Cut Compound by hand removed the induced marring.

The exterior was in terrible shape as stated before.

I had 90 minutes until the owner needed the car back.

In that time I was able to compound the hood & trunk with a mix of #105 - Ultra Cut Compound & Ultimate Compound using my PCXP & several primed W8207 pads. The paint was extremely hard and I made a mild improvement. I only was able to spend 30 minutes or so doing this as well.

All tar on undersided painted panels was cleaned off with Tarminator that was applied the night before.

Waxed/sealed the paint with #66 - Quick Detailer (Cleaner/Wax).
Dress tires/wells with All Season Dressing.
Glass was cleaned inside & out with Glass Cleaner Concentrate 10:1
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  #6  
Old 04-08-2011, 06:48 AM
ChaseRobert ChaseRobert is offline
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mystery pic: das ist acht zylinder!

I use Griot's engine bay cleaner, by hand only, never pressurized water, followed by Griot's engine bay dressing applied sparingly.
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  #7  
Old 04-08-2011, 07:30 AM
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Be careful with Simple Green and uncoated aluminum:

Quote:
Aluminum - Is it safe to use Simple Green® on aluminum?
When used with caution and according to the instructions, Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner has been safely and successfully used to clean aluminum. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner, Crystal Simple Green® Cleaner/Degreaser, Simple Green Pressure Washer Concentrates, and Pro Series™ Simple Green® Automotive Cleaner have been used on aircraft, automotive, industrial and consumer aluminum items for over 20 years. However, caution and common sense must be used: aluminum is a soft metal that easily corrodes with unprotected exposure to water. The aqueous-base and alkalinity of Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner can accelerate the corrosion process. Therefore, contact times for unprotected or unpainted aluminum surfaces should be kept as brief as the job will allow - never for more than 10 minutes. Large cleaning jobs should be conducted in smaller-area stages to achieve lower contact time. Rinsing after cleaning should always be extremely thorough - paying special attention to flush out cracks and crevices to remove all Simple Green® product residues. Unfinished, uncoated or unpainted aluminum cleaned with Simple Green products should receive some sort of protectant after cleaning to prevent oxidation.
http://www.simplegreen.com/solutions...query=aluminum
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  #8  
Old 04-08-2011, 08:36 AM
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Great advice, manticore33. Thanks.
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  #9  
Old 04-08-2011, 10:10 AM
Joe@Bavarian Joe@Bavarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
BB
Is that a non-e39 engine compartment? It looks very different from mine. The picture shows two large flat topped enclosures on each side that appear to envelope the intake airbox on the driver's side and A/C inlets and windshield washer containers on the other side. Tha SAP also looks like it's mounted up high.

BTW, I use Fantistik for basic dirty & dusty surfaces and Simple Green for greasy spots. I also have a spray can of engine cleaner that I use for particularly dirty & greasy spots. Once a year in the spring, it gets Armor-All to gussy things up a bit.


It's a E46
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  #10  
Old 04-08-2011, 10:39 AM
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Al's540i Al's540i is offline
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I can't remember what the products are called that I use but the degreaser comes in a white and orange can. then after that, I use a detailer.

here's the only before pic I have:

and here's after detailing


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Last edited by Al's540i; 04-08-2011 at 10:41 AM.
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  #11  
Old 04-08-2011, 10:40 AM
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bricas45 bricas45 is offline
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Be careful with degreasers in the motor... I am not sure if it was just this one but I used greased lightning the orange one and it took the paint off my spark plug covers!
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:04 AM
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Im kinda afraid of doing this...I've always been told to cover the alternator and intake filters(aftermarket cai) did you guys cover the alternator? Also I haven't got around to do the ccv and vanor yet..it's next on my to do list... Should I worry about water entering the block somehow? I've always degreased my hondas and my truck but I really don't know much about how well the e39 handles washing the engine bay. Knowing that this car is electronically sensitive, I'm afraid of shorting anything in there...


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  #13  
Old 04-08-2011, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al's540i View Post
I can't remember what the products are called that I use but the degreaser comes in a white and orange can
Gunk Engine Brite?

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Old 04-08-2011, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Gunk Engine Brite?

the pic you attached didn't come in on my PC here at work but I do believe you are right! Gunk Sounds very familiar.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:31 AM
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Al's540i Al's540i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edmonem View Post
Im kinda afraid of doing this...I've always been told to cover the alternator and intake filters(aftermarket cai) did you guys cover the alternator? Also I haven't got around to do the ccv and vanor yet..it's next on my to do list... Should I worry about water entering the block somehow? I've always degreased my hondas and my truck but I really don't know much about how well the e39 handles washing the engine bay. Knowing that this car is electronically sensitive, I'm afraid of shorting anything in there...


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I slightly covered mine with a rag. The key is to not use your hose with the setting set a full blast. Set it to "shower" or something light. Follow the instructions on the can to the t. It won't fail you. It calls for turning engine on and letting idle for 10-15 minutes after each step so as to make sure the water dries off via engine heat and to make sure you didn't mess anything up.

I've done this three times so far and had no problems.
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:41 AM
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Cool, I'll try it this weekend...


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Old 04-08-2011, 12:03 PM
ChaseRobert ChaseRobert is offline
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Al's 540:
Very nice engine bay indeed. Are those VCs powdercoated or some other process? Whatever, very attractive lump.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseRobert View Post
Al's 540:
Very nice engine bay indeed. Are those VCs powdercoated or some other process? Whatever, very attractive lump.
Chase,

They are powdercoated my friend. Thanks for the compliments.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:29 PM
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joyism5 joyism5 is offline
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I usually clean engines and engine bay area one every month. My daily driver (740) I am cleaning every year twice I think. During my college I used to work in a car wash and there I cleaned an engine weekly. Usually 3-4.

For best results no matter what you are using, rinse with hot water. Disconnect battery when washing and allow couple minutes to drain before cranking the engine and reconnect the battery. Always covered the Fuse Box. I covered alternator only if the car was old. Never had problems with it.

If you have access to a hot water pressure water you might don't need any chemicals unless you want that shiny look after it dried out.

At the car wash we used a chemical which was diluted by supervisors with water so I don't know the ratio and what exactly it was. It was toxic for sure. Gloves needed and safety glasses. Later I found out it was an industrial cleaner something for AC coils. This solution should not be used on painted surfaces or plastics. This was used only on the engine itself, radiator and AC condenser. We always used a regular car wash detergent for rinsing and the other painted and plastic surfaces and hot water pressure washer (70 C degrees) .With the proper safety and following the procedure engines were coming out like new .Honestly. When they came in some of them they were so greasy that you barely could see the engine block.

Home I do engine cleaning like this :

-first disconnect battery and cover the fuse block (where the ECM is)
-since I don't have a pressure water I am warming water up to the boiling point in the kitchen
-I use the Black Magic spray for engines, if it is very-very dirty I have a 1gallon spray container where I mix 3qt diesel + 1qt gas and spray it before couple times on all surfaces. I do remove the plastic thing from under the engine and spray in there too. Let it soak 10 min. and after that spraying again. 2-3 times.
-for AC condenser and radiator I am using AC-Safe Air Conditioning Coil Foaming Cleaner ($5 @ Home Depot) and for the final step I am using the Black Magic spray.
-rinsing first step with Hot Water and after that with the garden hose for about 5 minutes. If is cold outside (winter ) , I don't use garden hose.
-I don't crank the car until the engine starts to dry a little bit. Depends of the outside temperature.
-Let the engine idle for about 20 minutes before driving.

If you have a distributor it might need to be removed for drying separately since it makes condense on the inside. Other than that I had never problems with cars like not starting or rough running after an engine wash .
Home I always wash the engine stone cold. If you have a hot water pressure washer the engine can be washed when is hot too. And then you get best results.
Sorry for the long post , I thought someone will be curious about how is done by somebody else...

Hint : the gunk brite spray and similar ther are petrol based + some foaming detergents. A diesel/gas mixture followed by a water with dish detergent will do the same if not better. I tried every spray on the market (Oreily's, Autozone, Advance auto parts, Walmart and more) and the only one that worth buying I found out as being the BlackMagic. Is the most expensive too .

Last edited by joyism5; 04-08-2011 at 12:41 PM. Reason: hint
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:14 PM
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Best cleaner that doesn't screw anything up and smells great after you're done...

Spray and Wash! (now called Resolve) I've been using this for years on hundreds of cars that I sell with no ill effects. It cuts grease, loosens dirt and you can leave it on overnight without it eating through wires/ rubber, etc. Lightly spray off with a mist of water and you're good to go.

If I really want it to look nice, I'll use Armor All foamy tire spray all over the engine compartment and wipe off.
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
Scrubbing Bubbles. It cleans and shines. Really.
I saw that posted somewhere recently when googling this very topic. M5board maybe? I'll be trying it out this weekend, weather permitting.
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For me, the e39 is the ... best balance of luxury ... performance ... good looks and class. Sort of the Catherine Deneuve of cars, if you get my drift.
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:16 PM
Abby2010 Abby2010 is offline
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I use Black Majic Protestant. It really makes the engine compartment shine and has a great smell. I clean it once a month.
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiefwej View Post
I spray any greasy areas with WD-40 and let it sit for some time, then wash engine w/ a wash mitt, hot water and Dawn dish soap. (It cuts oil and grease like crazy. It also strips wax if you get it on the exterior. It won't damage the paint, just remove all wax.
Dawn is what they use on oil contaminated birds from oil spills. You can check it out on their web site.

I also heard that a few companies that were working on some of their own formulations, for their own industrial use, dropped the research and just used Dawn.
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:46 PM
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I use Simoniz 500 series car wash (it's the orange one). Spray it right on full strength and work it in with a wet wash mitt. You can also use a kitchen scrub brush to loosen the grimy stuff. I use a drier vent brush to get in to the tight crevices. I rinse the whole thing down with the garden hose turned to mist. Then I spray everything with Armorall Tire Foam, close the hood and wash the rest of the car. When it's done it looks like brand new.
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Old 04-18-2011, 07:13 PM
DavidZ DavidZ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dms540i View Post
I use Simoniz 500 series car wash (it's the orange one). Spray it right on full strength and work it in with a wet wash mitt. You can also use a kitchen scrub brush to loosen the grimy stuff. I use a drier vent brush to get in to the tight crevices. I rinse the whole thing down with the garden hose turned to mist. Then I spray everything with Armorall Tire Foam, close the hood and wash the rest of the car. When it's done it looks like brand new.
I similarly "rinsed the whole thing down" with a light mist after gently scrubbing everything. See my recent thread about my ABS and Brake lights coming on. They went out after a few hours and few start ups, so perhaps all's well that ends well, but I'll be careful about spraying everything down again.
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