Aluminum parts are widely used in automotive. It all started in 1901 when Carl Benz built the first aluminum engine. Due to the high price of aluminum, the company stopped using it right after 60 years. In 1961 a full V8 engine made by Land Rover’s mass-produced Buick 215 was made with aluminum.
Every kilogram of aluminum used in the car reduced the overall weight of the vehicle by one kilogram. As a result, we now have more car parts, such as intake manifolds, engine blocks, radiators, transmission bodies, and other body parts made with aluminum.
Aluminum is more preferred due to its special properties like useful strength, low density, high thermal conductivity, resistance to corrosion lightweight, and outstanding machining behavior. However, what happens to these parts after a while of usage and exposure to the atmospheric factors?
Several changes happen to the surface of aluminum during its lifetime. We will be going through the changes, why they happen, and how to clean aluminum engine parts. We shall also learn how to maintain its original state and how to make cast aluminum look new. This video will also direct you to clean engine parts.
First, before we learn how to clean aluminum engine parts, we should know what aluminum is and why we should clean it. Aluminum is a metallic element. It has been used since ancient times in Egypt and Rome. Aluminum easily bends to make a strong and lightweight alloy, which is a good conductor of heat and electricity.
These great properties make it ideal for many uses in the automotive industry. Therefore, when rebuilding or selling your vehicle or any other reason, it is crucial to clean the aluminum parts in your vehicle. In the past, people only cleaned cast iron and steel components.
Up to date, aluminum is mainly used in the engine construction of vehicles and other automobiles. This guide will also help you in cleaning aluminum motorcycle engine cases with ease. It is crucial to understand that different metals have different handling and cleaning methods.
The change of the building materials and increased usage of aluminum in engine parts brought a necessity to know its cleaning methods. Equipment used to clean other metals in the past are not ideal for cleaning aluminum components. There are special aluminum cleaning chemicals.
There are several products used to clean cast iron that cannot be used on aluminum since it may cause damage. Safety should always come first. Prepare the safety gear that will keep you safe during the process. You may use chemicals such as aluminum cleaner or high concentration oxidation removal, which are harmful to your health.
The safety gear should contain good eye protection glasses, a protective dress, and a face mask. You also need to work in a well-ventilated and away from children. Also, be careful not to touch any flames with the items used in the cleaning process.
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How to clean aluminum engine parts Step By Step Guide
Step 1: The Primary Methods
The first step of how to make cast aluminum look new is eye inspection. This happens by asking you how much dirt the aluminum parts have. If this is the case, you just have to rinse it with water and dry it with a clean rag. You can also use some light cleaner, such as a dishwasher cleaner. If you get the required result, then congratulations, you did the job right.
Step 2: If the Dirt is Denser
This comes after finishing the first step, and you have not got the required result. If you still have some dirt on the aluminum surface, then you need to use some advanced cleaners like Simple Green Extreme Aircraft and Precision Cleaner. This aircraft-grade aluminum cleaner is the product that will get this job done. This cleaner cuts through the tough build-up of grease and oil without harming the aluminum surface.
This product has been tested on aircraft bodies. It can be applied on any surface, such as aluminum, fabric, and carbon fibers. So this product is ideal and has a super clean effect on aluminum. Another feature is that the product is safe on the gaskets, seals, and rubber hoses, unlike other solvents that may harm the rubber parts of the engine.
Step 3: Using a Wire Brush
The last step is using a soft wire brush. It usually comes in the size of a toothbrush. Use soft strokes on the surface of the aluminum part. Do not hard brush it not to make scratches on the surface and mess up the parts. Go for the narrow spots and between parts. This may not be the best way to clean aluminum, but it gives it a good shine and makes it look as bright as new.
After getting to know how to clean engine parts made from aluminum is a mandatory act to maintain the life of the parts. Let us learn how to remove oxidation from aluminum and how to keep aluminum engine parts from oxidizing in the future.
How to remove oxidation from aluminum Step By Step Guide
Aluminum oxidizing is the process where the aluminum surface reacts with oxygen in the air producing a chalky, grey cast layer. There are several ways to remove this layer: they include:
Step 1: Cleaning Aluminum Surface
The first step of solving the problem is by cleaning the surface of the aluminum part by rinsing it in hot water for some minutes. You can also expose your aluminum part to a strong water jet. On how to clean oxidized aluminum siding or wheels, use a damp cloth to wipe the aluminum parts and hose them with water. When cleaning the part, wash thoroughly with soap and water. Try and rub the parts gently with a scratchy pad or a soft-bristled brush. If you fail to get the required result, move to the next step.
Step 2: Cleaning Using Natural Cleaners
There are many ways to clean your aluminum part by using natural products. You can comfortably practice these methods in your home. The first way is using vinegar. Start by mixing two teaspoons of vinegar for every quart of water. Leave them to boil for 15 minutes. Soak your part into it and leave it for some minutes.
If you are cleaning a large aluminum surface, soak a clean cloth into the boiled mixture. Wipe and scrub the surface with it until the oxidation fades out. Finish by wiping away the residue of vinegar with a dry cloth.
Another element you can use that is mostly available in every home is lemon juice and salt. Use the vinegar process again using the lemon juice. If you are cleaning a small area, just rub the lemon slice over the oxidized area. Dip the lemon slice in salt to have some abrasiveness when cleaning a tough area.
Step 3: Using the Oxidation Removal Product
If you apply all the previous ways and are not satisfied with the result, then the last option you have is to use an oxidation removal product. This product has a chemical that reacts with oxidation. One of the best oxidation removal products is Meguiar’s M4916 Marine/RV Heavy Duty Oxidation Remover.
When using this method, first put on gloves and apply the oxidation removal product. Only use certified cleaners to prevent damaging the part. On how to remove oxidation from aluminum wheels, start by applying anti-oxidation removal products. Leave it for some minutes, then rub it with a clean cloth. This method guarantees a great result.
After cleaning and deoxidizing the aluminum surface, it is important to know how to neutralize aluminum corrosion. Apply a transparent layer to protect it against corrosion. Apply automotive wax after cleaning aluminum parts, and this will help to prevent oxidation.
By now, you have known what aluminum is, how to clean tarnished aluminum parts and ways of maintaining aluminum parts as new. Experts always advise cleaning aluminum parts regularly to prevent them from building up rust and corrosion that may cause damage. Never use abrasive materials like steel wool or sandpaper to scrub the aluminum surface. They may remove oxidation but leave scratches on the surfaces that.
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