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So I need to battle with dirt/oil and the bottom of my Alfa's. What's the best way to get the bottom as clean as possible? The cars haven't been driven in some time (last one 6 months ago) so the oil and dirt have dried a bit. I'm going to do one at a time. I have my jack stands and power washer ready, but what kind of chemicals best helps get all the crap off the bottom? Anyone have before and after pictures of their clean up?
 

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Suggest you simply hire a steam cleaner and stick them up on a hoist and go crazy. Won't take long and look near new ... but you will need to wear a rain coat :p;):D

Pete
 

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so you're saying just straight steam clean, no special degreaser or chemicals to take off the oil/dirt? i'd hire a day laborer to do it, but all i need is for him to spray in the wrong place!
 

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Anthony, I find Purple Power, available at atuo parts stores, aersol pump spray, works really good as presoak, softener, degreaser not hard on the the paint. Gotta be careful with a steam cleaner/power wash, unless the underside has been baked/powder coated you can easily knock-off the paint
 

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so you're saying just straight steam clean, no special degreaser or chemicals to take off the oil/dirt? i'd hire a day laborer to do it, but all i need is for him to spray in the wrong place!
My fathers workshop used to have a steam cleaner and I used to use it all the time. I do not recall if we added degreaser or not ... but I do recall that steam works really, really well.

I also remember having to steam clean the underside of a Rover for another business (I was at Uni then ... needed money, etc.) to find an oil leak and the car looked like new afterwards ... but I was pretty wet :D
rogerspeed said:
Gotta be careful with a steam cleaner/power wash, unless the underside has been baked/powder coated you can easily knock-off the paint
If a steam cleaner can remove it then it needs to be attended too anyway IMO :).

Pete
 

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I steam cleaned the engine compartment, wheel wells etc on my 72 and as much paint flaked off as dirt/oil/grease etc, as the car needs a repaint it isn't a big deal but on a nice car, not so sure. Use caution. Maybe I was trying too hard?

As far as product goes, I had some cleaner from Swiss Oil for motorcycles that REALLY worked well on motorcycle dirt/oil/grease, and was gentle enough for plastics. Haven't tried it on a car.
 

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I use simple green. It is non-toxic, not hard on the paint and eats through oil. You can get it at the home depot. $8 for a gallon jug, use it full strength, spray it on, let it sit, scrub, hose it off, done.

This is one of those things that when you first look at it you think it wont or shouldn't work as well as it does but it works remarkably well.
 

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Hey Anthony,

Don't know about the steam cleaning but just wondering if Santas helper in your new avatar has removable dentures and is the size of the candy cane just a hint. You know, big hands, big feet .................:eek:
 

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How safe it is depends on the pressure you use. Crank up a proffessional steam cleaner to max and you WILL remove paint. Start off on the lowest setting and try a small patch first, turn up a bit if you are battling to get it clean, but the first sign of blowing paint away, turn the bugger down a notch or two. If done regularly you wont need much pressure at all, but on a car thats been compacting gunge for ten years you will battle a bit. On more modern cars with ABS, EBD and all such three letter wonders, rather don't use steamcleaners. Take it to a valet shop and let them do it, that way if the screw up the electronics THEY can pay to get it sorted :)
 

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This post is almost a month old. You need to give us an update on what you ended up doing.
I like to use "Awesome" that I get at the Dollar Tree Store (Cheap Stuff). It is hard on paint, but cuts grease and dirt really well. It will also clean the brake dust off of wheels better than anything that I ever have used.
 

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Some people mix up "steam cleaner" with "pressure washer". A good steam cleaner had a gas heater - usually kerosene - to get the water really hot, and sprays real steam, not just hot pressurized water. Almost anything that is soluble will come off with this and cause no paint damage. The steam cleaner I rented did have a pressure adjustment, but I put it on low to keep the temperature up and the steam level high. [More water flow at high pressure and the heater won't put out as high a temperature as it would with lower flow].

The results are amazing. A pressure washer with hot water isn't even close, even using grease solvents. One side effect is that the parts and body dry very fast - there is actually only a little water, and the temperature makes it evaporate very fast.

I put a big 20 by 30 tarp on the flat ground and jacked my car up on the highest stands I had. Other than rust or roughness, everything was ready for paint! [Degreasers usually need further cleaning with lacquer thinner or alcohol].

It did not strip the old tar undercoating, but the heat did soften it so I could scrape it off, which is safer than a torch.

It does make an awful mess - all the crud on your car ends up on the ground. Please don't wash it into the storm sewers - you wouldn't dump used motor oil there would you?

Robert
 
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