Let’s put this out of our way first: you aren’t here because you enjoy degreasing your car’s engine. Nobody does. None of us, if given a chance, would take up the opportunity of getting under our vehicle’s hood, spoiling our hands with its stinky oil, and come out like a person who hasn’t bathed for a while.
There’s one more thing which we dread with similar intensity: our car’s engine not performing at its best. And engines do suffer a nosedive in their performance if they’re clogged with dirt, dirt, or thousands of other pollutants that daily greet them on the road. Hence the need for the best degreaser.
By helping you get rid of the pollutants in your car’s engine, the degreasers not only improve its performance but also increase its shelf life. Also, as you’d see by going through our engine degreaser reviews, these products make the device easy to maintain as well.
Best Engine Degreasers Comparison Chart
MEGUIAR’S D10801 Super Degreaser – 1 Gallon
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Chemical Guys CLD_201 Degreaser
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POR-15 40104 Cleaner Degreaser
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Gunk FEB1 Foamy Engine Brite Engine Cleaner
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Gumout 800002230-12PK Carb and Choke Cleaner
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CRC SX128 Salt Terminator Engine Flush
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CRC 05319 GDI IVD Intake Valve & Turbo Cleaner
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Best Engine Degreaser Reviews – Editors’ Choice
1. MEGUIAR’S D10801 Super Degreaser – 1 Gallon
There are three things about this degreaser that force drivers to sit up and take notice. First, its brand name needs no introduction. Those of you who have gone through our other articles know that Meguiar’s is one of the most trusted brand names on the market.
Secondly, the super-powerful formula of this model is one of its unique selling points. It has a unique formulation that empowers this product to remove the toughest of grease. And the best thing about its formulation? It evaporates without leaving behind any residue.
Thirdly, while we’re aware that some of you might not be huge fans of scented degreasers, even then we cannot stop ourselves from waxing lyrical about its pleasant herbal fragrance. Also, since this product comes in a respectable 1 gallon can, you won’t be purchasing another one anytime soon.
2. Chemical Guys CLD_201 Degreaser
In case you are wondering, no chemicals are responsible for this degreaser’s orange color. Instead, it owes its shade to the citrus solvent which Chemical Guys has used in the product’s formulation. Citrus is a powerful emulsifying agent that is famous for removing dirt, dust and oil stains.
What’s more, citrus has other uses behind its emulsifying action. Since it’s an organic substance, you can safely use it to remove mud, dirt, and grime from rims, undercarriage and even wheels. That’s because it doesn’t have any chemicals which would harm rubber, plastic or other household materials.
The reason why its instruction manual asks you to dilute the product before using it is that this product has a highly concentrated formula. That’s an excellent thing as it means that you’d have to use less product. That, in turn, would allow you to keep on using the same bottle for an extended period.
3. POR-15 40104 Cleaner Degreaser
In contrast to what most people believe, you don’t have to purchase a separate engine cleaner if you’ve already bought a degreaser. The POR-15 Cleaner Degreaser shows you why that’s the case. It not only degreases and removes oil spills and grime but also cleans your engine to give it a sparkling look.
As this product comes inside a spray bottle, you can use it to remove dirt from the tightest of spots. Its manufacturer recommends that if you’re dealing with fine soil, dilute this product with water in the ratio of 10:1. However, if the grime is more stubborn, you can lower down the ratio to 4:1.
Luckily, the fact that it’s highly concentrated doesn’t mean that this product would leave a residue. Instead, within 10-15 minutes of its application, you’d be hard-pressed to find droplets of this degreaser on the outer surface of your engine.
4. Gunk FEB1 Foamy Engine Brite Engine Cleaner
Whether you clean your engine frequently or get under the hood once-in-a-blue-moon, you won’t find this degreaser lacking on any count. It has a foamy action that removes deep-embedded dirt and grime and evaporates without any residue. You don’t need any water to wash it away after application.
Its foam-based formulation equips this product with several benefits. The most important of them is that it’s safe to use on multiple surfaces. You can use this engine cleaner on plastic, under-hood rubber, and even paint. Hence the reason why it’s dubbed as one of the most versatile degreasers out there.
It means that no corners have been cut to keep this product’s asking price low. That being said, there’s one area we’d have liked this model to have done better. It comes in a small (17 oz.) bottle, so you’d have to purchase the replacement sooner.
5. Gumout 800002230-12PK Carb and Choke Cleaner
At the cost of sounding pedantic, the Gumout Carb and Choke Cleaner isn’t specifically an engine degreaser. Instead, its primary function is to rid your vehicle’s carburetor off of dirt, grime, oil stains and other pollutants. Engine degreasing, therefore, is the secondary feature of this product.
Does that mean that it won’t do well when used only as an engine degreaser? Nobody said that in this review. The mild-formula of this cleaner, in fact, is a boon for most engines – as it won’t peel off the upper, rubbery surface of the engine while removing dirt and grime.
Having said that, if you want to get the best out of this product, use it both for degreasing and cleaning. This way, it will take care of several problems like hard starting, stalling, and rough idling by cleaning away gum, varnish and dirt buildup from all the unpainted parts under the hood.
6. CRC SX128 Salt Terminator Engine Flush
The CRC Salt-Terminator is a 3-in-1 degreaser that performs three functions at the price of one. Its citrus-based formulation allows this product to do what you’d expect from a degreaser. The petroleum solvent inside this product’s formula, meanwhile, will inhibit rust and corrosion.
Then comes its biodegradable formula, which makes this degreaser safe to use. You can apply it on both painted as well as unpainted parts and it won’t do any damage. Just make sure that you dilute this degreaser when using on paint, and you won’t have any reason to worry.
On top of everything else, you’d love to see the protective coating this product will leave behind. That’s because it’s that layer that will prevent the corrosion from returning. So, unless you are very particular about the appearance of your engine, you won’t have any reason to get under the hood anytime soon.
7. CRC GDI IVD Intake Valve & Turbo Cleaner
As you might have guessed by now, their same brand-names doesn’t mean that both this and the previous product have the same properties. A mere glance at the intake valve and long nozzle of this product should have been enough to banish such thoughts.
Apart from its design, the formulation of this degreaser is also different from its colleague. We have already stated that the previous product had a relatively mild formulation. This one, however, boasts a potent formula which you shouldn’t take anywhere near a painted surface.
Need proof to believe this claim? Only check-out the instruction manual which accompanies this product. It’s clearly stated there that this product is 150x more concentrated than your average fuel additive. That is a clear indication that this product is only designed for engine cleaning.
What is an Engine Degreaser?
An engine degreaser removes oil and grease from hard surfaces. Most degreasers contain substances that react with pollutants to cause a chemical reaction. This way, they change the state of the pollutant and make it a cinch to remove with a rinse.
When compared with their industrial counterparts, engine degreasers are relatively mild. That’s mainly because they have to be safe as they come in direct contact with human skin. The absence of toxic chemicals in their formula means they are safe.
Also, in contrast to what their name suggests, the utility of ‘engine’ degreasers isn’t limited to what’s under the hood. Provided they have organic solvents (like citrus) in their formula, you can use these products on rubber, plastic, and even paint.
How does a Degreaser Work?
Regardless of whether they are water- or petroleum-based, most degreasers work on the same principle. Their built-in hydrophobic (water-hating) ingredients react with oils and other grime to dislodge them from the surface by suspending them in an emulsion.
Once that has happened, the pollutants will be wholly suspended in an emulsion. It is a mixture of two liquids which are not soluble in each other. Once the emulsion is visible, you just have to rinse it away to get a clean, dirt-free engine.
Engine Degreaser Buying Guide
Are you aware that not every degreaser on the market is suitable for your engine? That’s right; some of these products can do more harm than good. Those degreasers which have pure chemicals in their formula can corrode rubber, paint, and sealing valves.
Therefore, when choosing the degreaser for your vehicle’s engine, be cautious. Use the criteria mentioned in this buying guide to select the best (and the safest) product for your needs.
Top 3 Considerations When Buying an Engine Degreaser
Following are the questions you need to ask yourself before selecting an engine degreaser:
Type of Degreaser
As some of you might already know, engine degreasers are available in three types. They include petroleum-based degreasers, water-based degreasers, and foam degreasers. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Containing the likes of ethanol and multiple distillates, petroleum-based degreasers are the most powerful. They work by reacting with the pollutants and dissolving the resulting residue. You can, therefore, count on them to remove residues of oil, gasoline, and other lubricants.
On the flip-side, their strong formula acts as a double-edged sword. They are more abrasive than the other two types and can cause discoloring if applied onto painted surfaces. So you need to be careful when using them and make sure to remove any runoff.
– Strong formula
– Competitively priced
– Remove stubborn residues
– Might decolorize surfaces
Also known as environmental-friendly degreasers, they have a mild formula and are much gentler than their petroleum-based counterparts. That doesn’t mean, however, that their gentleness prevents them from removing stubborn pollutants.
Instead, while petroleum degreasers use raw power to rid your engine of residues, these products boast a high-tech formulation for the same. That means that even when they do come into contact with paint or rubber, they won’t do any damage. Though their higher asking price might weigh heavily on your pocket.
– Gentle action
– High-tech formulation
– Won’t damage paint, rubber and other surfaces
In contrast to the ones mentioned above, foam degreasers do not require you to rinse them off after usage. Once you’ve rubbed them in and they have picked up grime, all you’d have to do is to ‘lift’ them off using a clean microfiber cloth.
That’s why you can use them on engines, car paint, and even electrical appliances. At the same time, since you have to scrub them off manually, these degreasers might make things messier if you aren’t careful or don’t have prior experience of using them.
– Extremely safe
– Can also be applied to electrical appliances
– No water wastage
Single or Multi-Purpose
Do you need a degreaser only for your engine, or are you planning to use it on other appliances in your garage? The answer to this question will determine how strong or otherwise your degreaser is going to be.
Degreasers which are formulated especially for your engine tend to have a strong formula. They are either water-based or petroleum-based products that you might not be able to use on other surfaces.
Single-surface degreasers are the best bet if it’s only your engine that needs cleaning. However, they aren’t recommended if, say, you are planning to use them to remove the paint off your tires.
As you might have guessed by now, multi-surface degreasers tend to be milder. Though that isn’t the case all the time, most of them are foam-based products that you can use on your car’s engine and your home’s electrical appliances.
Unfortunately, these products suffer from two hard-to-ignore shortcomings. First, their mild formula means you can’t count on them to remove stubborn residues. Second, they are messy to clean.
Small or Large-Size Container
Since you can’t afford to take your eyes off your budget, it’s essential to decide whether you’d be better off with an inexpensive small-sized bottle or a pricier bigger one. The answer isn’t as apparent as some of you might think it is. Here’s why.
Do you own a brand new vehicle? Then you don’t need a large-size container for the simple reason that your shiny new car won’t be requiring as much degreasing as its older colleague.
That isn’t the main reason why you should forego a bigger-size bottle if you have recently purchased your car. Rather, degreasers, if left unattended for long, might eat into their bottle’s surface. So you need to use them as quickly as possible.
It should have become evident by now that bigger degreaser containers come handy for cars that aren’t brand new. Such vehicles are more likely to have more fault lines in their engines.
A List of the Most Important Engine Degreaser Features and Specs
Following are the features and specs which are a must-have for the top-rated engine degreasers
Degreasers packed inside an aerosol pack or squeeze bottle are easy to use. You can use them to lubricate the tightest of spots with minimal wastage. Push-button bottles and cans with an aerosol valve are other examples of easy-to-use degreaser.
Want to know the one thing that is common among all the degreasers in this review? All of them are safe to use. That means that they are harmless to the engine’s coating, the rubber surrounding it, and even your car’s paint.
Some of the cheap degreasers generate odors, which might cause respiratory problems. If possible, go for a model that is odorless. However, if you can’t find one, make sure that scent is only artificial. As added fragrances are mostly harmless.
Are you going to use your degreaser only on the engine? Most people will reply to this question in the negative. Most people, therefore, might want to choose a versatile cleaner that is as efficient on the engine as it is on other surfaces.
Degreasers need to be non-flammable, non-toxic, and non-hazardous. They shouldn’t come with any special storage requirements. Otherwise, they might pose a safety hazard and you won’t be able to store them anywhere you want.
Evaporate with no residue:
Almost all the top-rated degreasers evaporate with no residue behind. That makes it easy for you to finish the degreasing job without getting your hands dirty.
Engine Degreaser Ingredients
Depending on the type of degreaser, it might have one or more of the following ingredients:
There are various organic co-solvents whose names you might see in the list of ingredients of engine degreasers. Some of them include esters, alcohols, or ketones. These substances are responsible for dissolving grime and dirt.
Halogenated Organic Solvents:
While most degreasers use organic co-solvents, some prefer the more acidic halogenated ones. These substances have extreme degreasing properties and aren’t safe for many surfaces beside the engine’s.
Similar to their halogenated counterparts, aliphatic solvents such as n-hexane, pentane, petroleum ether, cyclohexane, and cyclohexene also impart acidity to the degreaser’s formula. They are mostly used in industrial degreasing solutions.
Aromatic solvents occur in many forms, including naphtha, xylene and toluene. They are mostly used as thinning agents and boast a high solvency rate. Most degreasers use aromatic solvents to inhibit corrosion.
Citrus is a very popular substance among water-based degreasers that use it as a natural solvent. It slices through massive grease build-ups and caked-on pollutants quickly. Also, since it’s natural, citrus would pose minimal effects on direct contact with skin.
Emulsifiers are substances that help dirt, dust and grime to get suspended in the degreaser. This way, they make sure that you can remove all the pollutants with a mere rinse. They aren’t found in foam-based degreasers.
Sounds obvious, right? Water performs two crucial functions as far as the degreasing of your engine is concerned. First, it increases the rate of emulsification. Second, since it rinses away harmful chemicals, it helps prevent the build-up of rust.
5 Benefits of Using an Engine Degreaser
Following are the benefits you can reap by using an engine degreaser:
- Pinpoint Engine Leaks and Dents
It goes without saying that none of us want to wake up to the horror of a faulty engine. Leaks, which happen due to reasons beyond the scope of this article, are the first step towards a damaged engine.
That’s because these leaks drain coolant liquids, those which prevent the engine from overheating. Degreasers, by restoring the surface’s shine, will help you notice these weak spots before they pose a big problem.
- Increase Car’s Resale Value
Knowledgeable buyers don’t stop at your vehicle’s exterior when assessing its condition. Instead, they go under the hood to check the engine’s health.
Consequently, if the engine isn’t spotless, the potential buyer might think that you don’t care much about your vehicle. Such thoughts have the potential to kill the chances of any deal involving your car.
- Improve the Car’s Mileage
Car mechanics tell anybody who’d listen to put less load on the engine if they want to get the best mileage out of their vehicle. Engines that are under less weight have to do less work, meaning better mileage.
Also, the more time dirt and dust would remain deposited on the engine’s surface, the weaker that surface would become. If left unattended, the grime might force you to spend big on unwanted expenses.
- Prevent the Formation of Rust
Of the many things that separate degreasers from engine-cleaning shampoos, the most important is their ability to prevent the rust from coming back.
These products form an invisible protective layer over the engine’s upper surface. This way, they make sure that the engine remains protected from corrosion as long as that layer is intact.
- Keeps your hands clean
Are you one of those people who don’t like to go to the mechanic whenever your vehicle requires minor maintenance, such as refilling the engine oil or repairing the accessory belt?
Then you have an extra incentive to use degreasers. Since they make your engine sparkling clean, these products would save your hands from getting dirty when you do get under the hood.
Step by Step Guide to Cleaning Your Car Engine
Hoping to impress someone with what’s under the hood? Then follow these simple steps:
How to Clean Your Engine Quickly and Efficiently
Step # 1: Schedule a day
Make sure that you pick a warm day. Hot days, especially those with lower humidity, are made for engine detailing. Their heat would dry the engine and evaporate the residue in no time. Or else, if it’s humid out there, the drying time could stretch to hours.
Step # 2: Let the engine cool down
Did you just park your car inside the garage? Then open up its hood and give the inner components a 15-20 minute cooling off period. Or else, if you try to rush things, hot parts, i.e. the radiator, can cause severe burn injuries. Even if you can take care of yourself, you could end up damaging the engine if you spray cool water over its heated upper surface.
Step # 3: Prepare the engine
Remove large pieces of debris that are usually trapped inside the grill, in the vent openings or under the hood. If you have a blower in your custody, the clean-up job would be over in five minutes. If not, borrow a hand brush from your kitchen.
Once you’ve removed the debris, the next step is to prepare your engine to get wet. Use a plastic bag to cover wiring, distributor, spark plugs, and sensors. Strap little tape to the cover to help it stay put over the surface you want it to protect.
Want to know why you’re doing that? You aren’t covering the engine because you want to protect it against water (hint: engines come waterproof from the factory). Instead, you’re taking all these precautions to prevent under-the-hood items from getting soaked.
Step # 4: Apply the Degreaser
Start applying the degreaser from the bottom up. This way, when you’d be cleaning the engine later on, the degreaser won’t be dripping down on your face. Also, while you want your engine to repair shiny, over-spraying the degreaser would only remove the wax off of its fenders. Avoid it.
All this means that you should apply the degreaser very carefully. Once you’ve lubricated the engine with the degreaser, rinse off the fenders or other areas if you didn’t cover them beforehand. Other areas that might also require a hosing off including the grille and under the hood.
Assuming your engine was relatively clean in the pre-degreasing stage, let it absorb the degreaser for about five minutes. Engines that haven’t been cleaned in a while would need ten minutes with the degreaser to loosen up their grip on the debris.
Similarly, if there was a light build-up of debris, you won’t need to use a hand brush. For caked-up debris, remove it using a long-handed brush which can reach tight spots easily. Add more degreaser if you feel that you are having to scrub too hard to remove heavy soil.
Step # 5: Wash the engine
Once you feel you’ve given the degreaser enough time to do its thing, hose it off. You can use a power washer but make sure that it’s at its lowest setting. Otherwise, if the water stream is too powerful, it might end up damaging electrical connections.
If you want to be on the safe side, use your regular garden hose. Wash from back to front. Start hosing from one side and then go the entire length of the compartment.
Remember, once you’re done with the washing step, you’d still have to dry the engine. Don’t spray much water into little pockets which would take more time to dry later on. For obvious reasons, it would be best if you avoid spraying directly over the electrical components.
Step # 6: Dry the engine
Do you have compressed air at your disposal? Then simply blast it to remove water droplets from every nook and cranny. Conversely, use a rag or a shop towel to dry everything within your reach. Remove not only stray water droplets but also any grime which the degreaser might have failed to remove.
Optional: If you want your engine to get back its showroom shine, spray it with an engine cleaner after the drying stage. Then wipe off the extra protectant and buff.
Final Step: Remove the covers
Remove the cover that you taped over electrical components in the 2nd step. Reconnect the battery terminals and start your car.
FAQs and Answers
- Q: Is it safe to power wash your engine?
A: The answer to this question depends on your expertise. You can power wash your engine if you’re sure that you’d be able to protect the vulnerable parts under the hood (electrical components, sensors, spark plugs, etc.) from the stream of water. If you aren’t too confident, then you should use your garden hose.
- Q: What is the difference between engine degreaser and engine cleaner?
A: All engine degreasers are cleaners, but not all cleaners can be termed as degreasers. Sounds a bit difficult to comprehend? Well, cleaners are best for surfaces that have a high build-up of non-greasy debris. Degreasers, on the contrary, contain both the cleaner as well as solvent, which means they can remove both the greasy and non-greasy stuff.
- Q: Is it safe to use an engine degreaser?
A: As long as the engine degreaser is non-flammable, non-toxic, and non-hazardous (all the products mentioned in this review are), it will be safe to use.
- Q: How to remove the degreaser smell out of your clothes?
A: Prepare a mixture of baking soda and water. Make sure the water is lukewarm as you dissolve one cup of baking soda in it. Add the smelly clothing and let it soak the mixture for about half-an-hour. Then, take out the clothes and machine wash them using a detergent.
- Q: How often should you clean your engine?*
A: If your environment is dirty: Regularly encounter a lot of pollen, dust, dirt, or snow on your way to the office? Then you might want to get under the hood once every three months to get rid of the build-up.
If your environment is clean: If you live in the middle of the city and don’t have dust storms greeting you on your daily commute, then washing your engine once or twice a year is more than enough.
There are many reasons why you might need an engine degreaser. You might be spotting oil droplets on your garage’s floor. The engine’s performance might have gone south. The sight you might be seeing on opening the hood might not be a fairly pleasant one.
Whatever the reason might be, there’s only one solution: the best degreaser. By transforming the look of your engine and adding shine to it, it allows you to pinpoint the sources of leaks. That will enable you to determine the scale of the problem you might be dealing with.
Furthermore, as you can tell by going through our engine degreaser reviews, there are other benefits of these products. Almost all of them offer post-application protection against rust. That means that once you’ve applied them, you won’t have to return under the hood anytime soon.