According to cars.com, a clean engine not only looks better but can also improve a vehicle’s performance by allowing it to run cooler.
The cost for having an engine cleaned can vary depending on the engine type and the cleaning method, as well as how extensive the cleaning is.
However, like any other service, it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits of your needs.
On average, the cost to clean is $225. The cheapest option is $50 for DIY cleaning, while more professional service would be $400.
It’s much cheaper to purchase the materials to do it yourself, but it could be riskier.
Extensive cleaning, including the entire engine bay and undercarriage, could cost $700 or more. Carbon cleaning can cost $1500+.
- How Much Does it Cost to Have an Engine Cleaned?
- Engine Cleaning Methods
- Bottom Line on Engine Cleaning Methods
- Estimated Engine Cleaning Cost by Method
- Other Factors Impacting Cleaning Costs
- Other Costs to Consider
- Bottom Line on Engine Cleaning Cost
How Much Does it Cost to Have an Engine Cleaned?
Keeping an engine clean can help extend its overall life and performance by preventing grease and other buildups from obstructing airflow for the engine’s cooling system.
Buildup can also damage gaskets, hoses, and other rubber or plastic components.
Having an engine professionally cleaned may involve removing grease, oil, and other debris from the top surface of the engine and surrounding area.
This is also sometimes necessary to find the source of an oil leak.
Other cleaning services are more comprehensive and involve cleaning underneath engine components, the vehicle’s suspension, and undercarriage.
These types of cleaning jobs are more expensive because of the greater amount of time and labor involved.
Professional detailers typically use steam to remove buildup and debris from the engine, making it look much newer under the hood.
The cost of steam cleaning varies depending on how extensive the job is, the type of engine that you have, and the market in your geographic location.
Cost to Steam Clean an Engine
|Surface (Top) Clean||Top-to-Bottom Clean|
|Average Cost (Low)||$40||$145|
|Average Cost (Mid-Range)||$55||$200|
|Average Cost (High)||$80||$400|
Engine Cleaning Methods
The method used to clean the engine will impact how effective it is and the job’s price tag.
There are pros and cons to each of the various methods used, so it’s important to consider all of the information to make the best decision.
Steam cleaning is a common method used by professionals to detail an engine, but there are other ways to get the job done. The method used will be a big factor in determining the cost of the job.
Steam cleaning is preferred because it’s environmentally friendly (no harsh chemicals), and it’s effective for removing oil and grease deposits from the engine’s surface. Steam cleaning an engine typically costs between $150 – $350.
Proponents of steam cleaning claim that it can extend the overall life of the engine and prevent damage due to overheating or other issues.
Other advantages may include a lesser chance of engine fire, rust prevention, the ability to find leaks and other problems early, and improved appearance and resale value of the vehicle.
On the other hand, there are also risks if the process isn’t done correctly or the proper care isn’t taken to protect the delicate parts of the engine. Improper steam cleaning can damage the electronic components, ignition system, or air-intake system if too much pressure is used.
At-Home Cleaning Method
Some people choose to clean their engines themselves rather than paying a professional for detailing. This is an option, but it’s not without risk.
Like many other projects, cleaning the engine yourself will be the least expensive method.
Purchasing the materials to clean an engine may cost between $20 – $75. The cost will depend on what materials you have and what you purchase, and how you’ll perform the cleaning.
To steam clean your engine, you can use a household steam cleaner, which is available to purchase on Amazon or at any retailer that sells small appliances and home goods. The benefit to this is that you can continue to use the steam cleaner for years to come, potentially saving money over the lifetime of the vehicle.
Steam cleaners typically cost anywhere from $50 – $200, depending on the brand, tank size, and power.
Car and Driver recommend using any household degreaser to wipe down the engine surfaces, then following it with a clean rinse.
The cost for this method would be very inexpensive, depending on if you had to purchase any tools to remove the plastic covers from under the hood.
Carbon cleaning is intended to remove carbon deposits from inside your vehicle’s engine. Carbon buildup occurs as a natural byproduct of the fuel that burns to power the vehicle. Over time, excess carbon buildup may cause engine trouble.
Carbon cleaning can be performed by using a special fuel-injection fluid that will burn at a higher temperature than gasoline and also burn away and remove the carbon.
Another method involves removing engine parts and cleaning the buildup with chemical solvents or an abrasive technique like sandblasting. This would be performed by a specialized mechanic and is much more involved (and costly) than the previously mentioned technique.
The cost for carbon cleaning depends on the vehicle make and model, the market in your geographic location, and how extensive the job is. On average, dealerships may charge between $250 and over $1500 for this service.
The biggest factor is how much labor is involved to remove the engine parts and gain access to the areas that need to be cleaned.
Bottom Line on Engine Cleaning Methods
There are several ways to clean an engine, and depending on the method used, the cost may vary drastically. Some people opt to clean their engine at home, using a degreaser or another cleaning solution, which is the least expensive. Purchasing a steam cleaner is another option.
Doing this work yourself comes with risks, especially if you aren’t familiar with all the components and electrical parts under the hood.
Steam cleaning is the most common professional cleaning method, and carbon cleaning is a more specialized process that’s driven by performance concerns more so than cosmetics.
Estimated Engine Cleaning Cost by Method
|Cleaning Method||Minimum Cost||Maximum Cost||Average Cost|
|Professional Surface Clean||$40||$100||$65|
Other Factors Impacting Cleaning Costs
In addition to the cleaning method and the average costs for the geographic location, there are some other factors that will determine the bottom line price tag for engine cleaning services.
These may include:
- Engine size: The cost for cleaning the engine may vary depending on how many cylinders the engine has. So, a semi-truck tractor may have as many as 12 cylinders or as few as 6-8. Many private vehicles have 4-6 cylinders. The engine’s size plays a role in the labor and materials, and will most likely be a big determinant in the service cost.
- Engine’s condition: The condition of the engine (or, how “dirty” it is) will determine how much labor and effort will be involved in cleaning it. Some types of vehicles and certain fuel types will have more buildup to remove, and thus may be price. However, keeping up with routine maintenance and keeping your engine clean on a regular basis will help with this issue.
- Fuel type: Diesel-powered vehicles are typically more expensive for all types of services, including engine cleaning. The reason is that diesel produces more byproducts when it burns than gasoline and can result in more buildup in the engine. This may impact the cost for semi-truck tractors the most, as they are larger and typically diesel-fueled.
- Vehicle’s age: How old the vehicle is may impact the cost to clean the engine. The reason for this is because engines manufactured before a certain time could have been produced when there were lower emissions standards. As a result, the engine could have significantly more buildup, or the cleaning process may be more extensive.
Other Costs to Consider
Oftentimes, people are interested in cleaning their engines because they’re either looking for the source of an oil leak or because another performance-related issue has drawn their attention to the amount of buildup on the engine and its parts.
However, the primary benefit that you’ll gain from engine cleaning is that your car will look more like new again under the hood.
Any serious issues that are impacting the way the car handles are unlikely to be resolved by engine cleaning.
If you’re cleaning the engine (or having it cleaned), there are several other things you can do while under the hood to improve your vehicle’s health and performance and get the most bang for your buck while it’s in the shop.
In addition, keeping up with these maintenance tasks will reduce your overall costs in the long run as your vehicle stays on the road and out of the garage.
Check Engine Coolant and Fluid Levels
Sometimes, owners are interested in engine cleaning because they are concerned about overheating. Oil and grease buildup on the engine can trap heat inside and impact the cooling system.
However, the issue can also be caused by engine coolant becoming contaminated.
Buildup on the engine may contribute to this problem, especially if oil and grease cause damage to rubber hoses or gasket seals. If this is the case, the coolant should be replaced.
When you have your engine cleaned, it’s a good time to have the coolant flushed and replace it with new fluid.
The average cost for having the coolant change is between $90 and $150, depending on the vehicle type and how much fluid is needed. Labor costs can be combined with the labor costs of the engine cleaning, which could save you some money as opposed to doing the two jobs separately.
Change the Oil and Filter
Keeping up with routine oil and filter changes are some of the best prevention measures you can do for your vehicle’s engine. Dirty oil can contribute to engine buildup and cause performance issues.
If you’re due for an oil change, doing this simple service at the same time as an engine cleaning is a good idea.
The cost of an oil change varies depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the type of oil used, and how much oil is needed. Standard oil changes range between $25 – $75, while synthetic oil may cost anywhere from $55 – $130.
Tune-Up Your Engine
Cleaning your engine can make your vehicle look better under the hood and it may help you to uncover a potential issue, such as a leak or corrosion.
However, a better way to improve your vehicle’s performance is to do a tune-up on the engine along with the cleaning.
Tune-ups also typically include replacing your fuel filter, oxygen sensor, and PCV valve. During the tune-up, the technician will also check for any issues that may become more expensive problems in the future, which can save you some money in the long run.
A tune-up may cost anywhere from $40 – $150 for these basic services. More specialized tune-ups for exotic or luxury vehicles may be priced between $150 – $800, depending on what’s involved.
Bottom Line on Engine Cleaning Cost
Not every engine will need to be cleaned, but it may be a good idea if you have excessive buildup or need to find the source of a leak. A clean engine bay will make the vehicle look newer and may help to prevent problems in the future.
Some engines may need more extensive cleaning to remove carbon deposits.
The cost to have an engine cleaned depends on the type and size of the engine, the vehicle type, and how much buildup needs to be removed. A bigger job that takes more time will cost more than a quick surface clean.
Basic cleaning services typically cost anywhere from $50-$400.
Not everyone agrees that engine cleaning is necessary, so it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits for your situation to make the best choice. When done correctly, it can improve the overall appearance of your engine bay and remove potentially corrosive materials from your engine’s surface. You may be interested in our guide on Engine Mount Replacement Cost