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Engine Detail - 1997 4Afe

By Timmy, September 9, 2013 in Pre-1997 Toyota Corolla and Geo Prizm

So I decided to stop putting it off, and get my engine and bay cleaned up. Spent the weekend working on it in the 100+ degree weather, which was not only miserable for me, it made certain bits of this job pretty difficult.

I still have a bit more detail to attend to, but this is a massive improvement over what it was before - an engine that had never once been cleaned in 17 years. The intake manifold had oil goo and carbon build up baked on, and the head and valve cover had even more of the same. Calcium deposits, rust and other bits of junk all around the bay walls and trim. Just muck everywhere.. what you'd expect to see on an engine pushing 18 years old, plus extra oil from a leaky valve cover gasket.

I used WD-40 to clean up the firewall, side walls, shock housings, front frame area, etc. There is more work to be done here, but it worked remarkably well. Gunk heavy duty gel was used to initially degrease, and remove the layers of oil and carbon soot that had baked on for years. For all around spray on cleaning, I opted for a solution of simple green and water. The heat made this problematic, as it just would not stay wet long enough to dig in and work. I persisted, and I won. After hours of spraying and scrubbing nooks and crannies with a baby bottle brush (Really folks.. go buy a dozen of these. You're welcome) it was time for a rinse down.. Didn't take long to dry! Final dress was Gunk "shine". It smells awful, but it works pretty well. I was hoping to find CD2, but apparently you can't use that in California anymore.. again..

Anyway, I have more work to do to get this where I want it, but I'm very pleased with the results.

This is a "before" shot, although I had already removed the oil from the engine at this point:

And the result of the weekend's labor of love:

You can see the job is not complete. Still rust on the exhaust shroud, still a bit more cleaning to do all around, and I am going to replace all hoses, wire wraps, etc. I'll probably just replace the antifreeze bottle rather than try to clean it.

Any advice on how to make this even more spiffy is welcome, and how best to remove the rust from that shroud..

Nice before and after difference, actually the before picture looks pretty decent for that age and length of time. In fact, your 17 year old built-up grimy engine looks to be cleaner than my engine right now default_biggrin

Rust on the shroud - wire brush attachment on a power drill will clean that up. Just have to watch to make sure there is enough material on there - that the corrosion hasn't completely eroded it away or perforated it any spots or cleaning it might cause more damage in the end.

For the detailing aspect - lots of products out there. Pinnacle, Meguiar's, 303 protectant, CD2, etc. - all great products. Incredible that California blocked CD2 - must be part of their program to ban all petroleum based cleaners - ie, the stuff that actually works to dissolve grime. So it is better to use a detergent that eats the oil/grime - but much more hazardous to the ecosystem.

Looking back through the pictures, I realized that the first shot was after degreasing, and also after an initial quick soak all around with simple green. Unfortunately I did not plan ahead and started taking pictures somewhat into the process. Before I started anything, I'm willing to bet it looked worse than yours. It was pretty bad.

OK, that makes sense. I'll have to snap a picture on my engine - pretty embarrassing. Still, the after shot is pretty impressive. You got tons of the stains and crud off the castings - with just some conventional cleaners (pressure wash or garden hose?) - that is an excellent job.

pressure wash or garden hose?

Garden hose with adjustable pressure/spray nozzle. Most of the cleaning was with elbow grease, and a bit of high pressure water in places where I wasn't afraid to do it. Brushes, mitts, chemicals and muscle (and an old tee shirt that I won't be wearing anymore) did most of the work.

I appreciate the compliment. That means a lot coming from you.

Now that it is clean, I can actually see where I'm losing oil, and it turns out to not be nearly as bad as it looked. Looks like the main culprit is just a bad o ring on the distributor. Other side of the valve cover had a leak in the forward corner, but that stopped when I tightened down the screws, which were all finger loose. I think I'm still going to change the valve cover gasket, and the tubes inside.. #1 is getting a bit of oil on the plug.

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