How do dirt, dust and debris affect trucks?

Keeping Your Truck Engine Clean

With a little practice, you'll find that it's not too difficult to keep your truck's engine clean.
With a little practice, you'll find that it's not too difficult to keep your truck's engine clean.
© Liivaar

If you keep a truck on a ranch, chances are you know your way around its engine compartment and feel comfortable under the hood. Cleaning the engine, however, might be something you haven't tackled before, especially if you've only recently started using your truck on the ranch. Life on a ranch with a truck brings with it some unusual cleaning needs, so let's take a look at what cleaning a ranch truck's engine can entail.

The first question that might come up is whether you should clean the engine while it's hot or cold. There are some advantages to cleaning it while it's hot -- for instance, caked-on dirt, mud and grease will loosen up when warm and be easier to remove -- but there are also dangers to working with a hot engine. You can burn your hands and other body parts. And if you're using cold water, you don't want it to get it on certain hot surfaces, like the exhaust manifold, because they can crack when cold water hits them. A reasonable compromise is to turn the engine on briefly, just long enough for the engine to warm up but not long enough to get hot. Or you can drive around for a while, then leave the engine off for about 20 minutes and do the cleaning then. Caked-on dirt and grime should still be loose, but you're not as likely to burn yourself.

What tools should you work with? For the most part, you can use tools you have around the house. For instance, a paint brush is good for cleaning debris out of small spaces. There are also detailing brushes designed for truck and automobile exteriors that can be used for cleaning the engine, too. A small detailing brush can be useful for reaching dirt in tight nooks and crannies.

A hose should be enough for more serious cleaning, though you should observe the cautions we just mentioned about cleaning hot surfaces with cold water. Even when surfaces aren't hot, you want to be mindful of where the water goes. For instance, you don't want water to get into the carburetor. Try placing a plastic bag over the air intake and secure it with a rubber band until you're finished cleaning.