Car Engine Cleaning Cost [DIY vs Pro]
Cleaning your car’s engine is a great way to improve its overall performance. There are many different ways of doing so, and each comes with a different cost.
While there are many different ways to have your engine cleaned, the average cost is around $225 across the board. DIY methods can cost as little as $20, while professional carbon cleaning can cost up to $1,500.
Below, we’ll discuss the different types of engine cleaning, as well as their respective costs. Keep reading to learn more.
What is the Average Cost of Car Engine Cleaning?
The amount you’ll pay to get your car engine cleaned depends on both your engine type and the cleaning method you use. While a general cleaning will cost between $50-$400 on average, extensive, professional cleanings are more expensive.
The table below will highlight the average cost of several different types of engine cleanings. Keep in mind that this price may vary based on where you live.
|Type of Cleaning||Average Price|
|DIY hot tank cleaning||$25-$70|
|Glass bead or soda blasting cleaning||$100-$400|
Different Methods of Car Engine Cleaning
There are several ways you can clean out your vehicle’s engine. Each method comes with different advantages and disadvantages, as well as a separate cost.
Many people consider steam cleaning to be the best engine cleaning method. It’s great for restoring an engine to its original look and is often a much more economical method than others.
Steam cleaning removes any build-up that has accumulated in your engine over time, including grease and oil. The steam effectively dissolves any grease, oil, and grime without harsh or caustic chemicals.
Since steam cleaning uses steam alone to clean out your engine, there’s no risk of harmful residue being left inside. It’s also very environmentally-friendly, as this process generates no toxic residue.
This type of cleaning is also a great way to recognize any oil leaks in your engine. These leaks are often difficult to notice underneath all the grime and build-up. When you can see spots where oil is leaking and remedy them, the risk of engine fires decreases.
Steam cleaning also needs to be done less often than other cleaning methods. You can get the same results from steam cleaning twice a year that you would perform other methods 3-4 times per year.
DIY Hot Tank Cleaning
Hot tank cleaning is one of the cheapest and most traditional methods of cleaning your engine. All you have to do is submerge your dirty engine parts in hot water and caustic chemicals, then let them soak.
To do a hot tank cleaning, you’ll need a big, metal tank. You’ll also need a caustic chemical solution to mix with hot water. Generally, these cleaning solutions cost between $15-$20.
Your engine parts will need to soak in this solution for several hours. While this method is very effective at removing oil, grease, and grime, it will not remove rust.
Hot tank cleaning is one of the cheapest engine cleaning methods when done at home. However, it will cost about $600 to have this done professionally. If this is your preferred engine cleaning method, you’ll have to do it 3-4 times each year.
Glass Bead or Soda Blasting Cleaning
Glass bead cleaning and soda blasting are both effective ways to remove carbon deposits. As the names suggest, glass bead cleaning uses glass beads, and soda blasting uses baking soda.
Both of these methods are recommended for cleaning either small or aluminum parts of an engine. They’re particularly good choices when you’re only cleaning one part at a time.
These cleaning methods are relatively inexpensive. Depending on the type of engine you have, it may cost between $100-$400.
You should always go to a professional for glass bead or soda blasting cleaning. If it’s done improperly, abrasive residue may be left inside your engine, which could lead to premature engine failure.
Carbon cleaning is probably the most expensive way to clean your engine. Over time, carbon builds up as a natural byproduct of the fuel that powers your vehicle. This can cause engine trouble if left for too long, and carbon cleaning helps to remove these deposits.
This type of cleaning is done using a special fluid that burns at a higher temperature than gasoline. Because of this, it can burn off any carbon left behind by gasoline running through your engine.
For severe build-up, there are more specialized carbon cleaning techniques. These involve taking apart your engine, then using other chemical solvents or sandblasting to clean out carbon build-up.
This method is more expensive than traditional carbon cleaning because the process is much more involved.
The total cost of carbon cleaning depends largely on how labor-intensive the job is. Higher amounts of carbon build-up will take longer to remove, meaning more labor will be required, increasing the cost.
Generally, professional carbon cleaning can cost between $250-$1,500 in total.
What Impacts the Cost of Engine Cleaning?
The area you live in, as well as a technician’s labor rates, will impact your cost the most.
The following factors will also dictate the price you pay
How old is your vehicle is
The size of your engine
The condition of your engine
What type of fuel your vehicle uses
Below, we’ll discuss how each of these factors plays a role.
Your Vehicle’s Age
Many people choose to clean out an older engine to improve its performance and keep their vehicle running longer. However, the engines in older vehicles and classic cars are often more expensive to clean than those in newer cars.
This is because vehicles manufactured in earlier years had lower emissions standards to adhere to. This often means more build-up inside the engine. More grime to remove means a more expensive and labor-intensive cleaning process.
Your Engine’s Size
Different engines have different amounts of cylinders. For example, a typical sedan might only have a four-cylinder engine. A big pick-up truck or high-performance car, on the other hand, could have up to an eight-cylinder engine.
Since each cylinder needs to be cleaned thoroughly, more labor and material are needed to clean larger engines. For this reason, you’ll pay more to clean a six or eight-cylinder engine than you would for a four-cylinder engine.
Your Engine’s Condition
As you’d probably expect, how dirty your engine plays a huge role in cleaning costs. The more grime you have built up in your engine, the more expensive cleaning will typically be.
Keeping up with your routine maintenance will help keep your engine cleaner for longer. To keep cleaning costs to a minimum, remember to change your oil as recommended and have your engine cleaned regularly.
Your Engine’s Fuel Type
Gasoline engines are typically less expensive to have cleaned than diesel engines. This is because diesel produces more byproducts as it burns, which can lead to increased build-up over time.
Benefits of Car Engine Cleaning
There are still a lot of people who believe in the misconception that engine cleaning is not only expensive, but potentially harmful. However, when done properly, engine cleaning comes with many benefits.
Simply put, cleaning your engine makes it look better. This is especially advantageous for high-performance cars and older vehicles you’re trying to sell. Cleaning your engine will remove all the build-up and debris, making it look as good as new.
In addition, cleaning your engine can extend its lifespan and improve its performance. Grease and other build-ups inside the engine can obstruct airflow. This may decrease fuel economy and force your cooling system to work harder.
With all that debris removed, your engine won’t have to work as hard or use as much fuel to operate at peak performance. It’ll stay cooler for longer, reducing the risk of overheating and increasing its lifespan.
Is DIY Engine Cleaning a Good Idea?
Many people try to save money by cleaning their engines themselves. While it’s not a particularly difficult task, it needs to be done right to prevent damage and injuries.
Before you start cleaning your own engine, make sure you have the correct tools, equipment, and safety gear. You’ll also need a safe space to dispose of all the toxic residue and wastewater you collect.
It’s not uncommon to scald or burn yourself while cleaning an engine, so always wear safety gloves and goggles.
The easiest at-home cleaning techniques are hot tank cleaning and steam cleaning. Hot tank cleaning is the cheapest, and probably safest, to do yourself.
If you’d prefer environmentally-friendly steam cleaning, you could buy or rent a steam cleaner for around $50-$200. However, improper steam cleaning can damage your engine, so make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you begin.
The price of your engine cleaning will depend on the method you use, your particular engine, and whether you do it yourself or have it done professionally. The average cost is just about $225, although prices can range from $20-$1,500.
It’s generally recommended that you have a professional perform your engine cleaning. If you need to do it yourself, make sure you have the skills and equipment necessary.