A safer alternative is to use air to clean the engine instead of water. For instance, a leaf blower is handy for removing light debris from inside the engine bay. Just turn it on and aim it at the accumulated dust. Caked-on dirt might require more drastic measures, however, so compressed air might be what you need. If you have an air compressor, you can blow most of the dirt and debris out of the engine without worrying about the problems associated with water. You can even rent an air compressor if you don't happen to have one on hand. Once you have a source of compressed air, several companies sell engine-cleaning guns that you can use to direct the air into hard-to-reach places. Some even come with a special suction hoses that will pump solvent or a citrus-based cleanser, if more intense cleaning is required. The same warnings apply here as with water, however.
Finally, don't forget the air filter. Sure, you're fine at changing the filter as often as the truck manufacturer suggests, maybe even a bit more often. But if you drive down dirt and gravel roads every day in your truck, more frequent changes will be necessary. The increased mileage should cover the cost of the filters.
All things considered, cleaning dirt, dust and debris off of your truck's engine isn't a terribly difficult chore, and if you're working on a ranch or just enjoying ranch life in your leisure time, you might want to do it more often.
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