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2012 Subaru Forester 2.5X
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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve bought some P21S TAW and a pressurized sprayer (apparently the factory one is junk) and although everywhere I’ve read online says it’s safe on the plastic and paint, I’m not taking the word of a salesperson as complete truth.

is it necessary to dress the plastic and hoses afterward or is it neutral enough that it doesn’t harm that stuff?

im guessing I’ll want to wash and wax the front end afterward as well or will it not eat away at that either?

I’m going to cover the alt, wire harness and fuses before spraying the engine bay with the cleaner and letting it sit for a minute or so then rinsing with a garden hose sprayer, blow drying the pools of water and going for a 10 or 20 minute drive afterward to dry everything off.
 

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2019 Sport CVT
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It sounds like you want something to clean the engine bay.

I have never used P21S TAW but from the detailer supplier I buy from:

...If you’re washing or detailing your car and you have a minimalist approach, p21s TAW will fit right into your workflow. Is it the most aggressive cleaner? Absolutely not! But it does offer nice cut for what people typical encounter; bug marks, bird droppings and lightly bonded contaminants. If you’re looking for an aggressive cleaner, look elsewhere...

So this is a bit heavier duty cleaner for your exterior paint. It doesn't sound like it has enough cut for engine grease and grime under the hood.

I like Meguiar's General Purpose Cleaner for a spray down of all around engine bay cleaning. What it can't take care of is usually handled by a locallized spray of Meguiar's Super Degreaser. And if that can't handle it WD-40 usually can dissolve it, but if not a hit of Citrol 266 will definitely take care of it. A little swish with a brush will help break down any grease as well. Then flush everything down with a soft stream of water to remove them. No need to blast high pressure water anywhere. Then dry the under the hood with a leaf blower. For general dressing of the paint and plastic and hoses under the hood, I use Meguiar's Xpress Spray Wax. You can level it out after spraying with your leaf blower again. Or for just the plastic and hoses, Stoner's Trim Shine (the water based 92034) is really nice.

Note none of these cleaners/degreaser products are used outside of the engine compartment. My outside paint gets an entirely different set of products.
 

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P21S TAW is a great product but IMO, it's expensive for what it is. I never used it but I've heard from folks who I respect their opinions. Been around for a long time.

Having said that I used to use Meguiars APC+ and that stuff would really do a number on grease but man, I wouldn't use it without a respirator as it has a pungency to it you can feel in your sinuses (a kind of burn). The thing is, I believe they changed the formulation as APC+ now says it has a fresh citrus scent that it didn't have before.

Anyhow, I think the last gallon jug I bought from the detail shop was their Citrus Power Cleaner Plus. Same applications (e.g. degreasing engines, for carpet extraction, etc.).

IMO though, what really makes a big difference is agitation. I have a ton of different brushes on hand that I use for various tasks including engine cleaning. Sometimes I'll use a foam gun and spray the engine compartment down with cleaner to get full coverage. .....following up with a bucket of solution and brushes.

Other times, I really don't want to get more harsh cleaners on the paint so I just use bucket with solution and brushes so the cleaner isn't getting all over the paint.

Most times I find just car wash soap is good enough on my own cars as I don't let them get that dirty. ....again, agitate with brushes and rinse.

I rarely cover anything but you need to do what you feel comfortable with. However, I also don't use a strong jet of water or hold/shoot the hose into more sensitive areas. The thing is, the older the car, the more you need to be aware of potential issues when cleaning engine compartments. Electrical fittings may not be as water tight as they once were, etc., etc.

I also use a leaf blower to dislodge standing water which is usually adequate to get things dry enough to then dress the plastics. .....and for dressings, I like 303 Aerospace Protectant as it works well on painted surfaces (e.g firewall, brake booster, painted hard lines and so on.....as well as plastics). I find it also has a tendency to spread out evenly when misted on and leaves a nice, satin sheen finish (not greasy looking).

Just a note about Stoner's Trim Shine. There are two versions that come in an aerosol and a spray bottle. The first is part # 91034 and the latter 92034. I don't believe the aerosol is water based while the spray bottle is. The aerosol is also flammable that will release harmful fumes when heated to around 150 degrees apparently (you check out the MSDS on each). Just thought I'd point that out. I've used it before and wasn't impressed myself using as a dressing for intricate grillework, etc. I used in a pinch when I ran out of Adam's In & Out spray. ......I went back to Adam's.
 

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2012 Subaru Forester 2.5X
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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your in depth thoughts and experience, it gave me more to consider than I expected, I do need to get some real nasty stuff off my engine block, in areas that I can’t think how I’ll reach with a brush but I supposed I’ll figure out how to get there one way or another with a brush or pipe cleaner maybe.

if I’m using a garden hose how much would be too much as far as hitting the intake area to rinse it off? That’s an area that I’m paranoid about, as well as the wires but I believe that’s just me being paranoid considering it’s fairly new and should be sealed yet, but you never know, the previous owners obviously didn’t take very good care of this lady and I wasn’t aware until owning it and doing work on it to see the screws driled into the wheel wells and center console that doesn’t line up or the windshield wipers scraping the hood when I lift them up off the windshield.o_O

edit: I wasn’t asking if it’s good for paint, I was/am wondering how bad it is going to be for my paint or plastic if some cleaner comes into contact with either. Sorry for the confusion
 

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I have 3 NA models. I’ll take the snorkel thing off and then close off the inlet to the air cleaner by stuffing it with some plastic bags. I’ll check for water in there before starting. By not blasting the opening with the hose I never do. Most everything is really well sealed. Apply the appropriate cleaners and water where needed. As far as the paint and plastic under the hood that’s why you use automotive products and read the labels. Being more cautious as you go up the aggressive scale. Like the bottles away say, try in a small area first as see how it works. Lots of YouTube videos on how to clean your engine bay as well.

Note sure where you were going with:
im guessing I’ll want to wash and wax the front end afterward as well or will it not eat away at that either?
 

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I do need to get some real nasty stuff off my engine block, in areas that I can’t think how I’ll reach with a brush but I supposed I’ll figure out how to get there one way or another with a brush or pipe cleaner maybe.
Back in the day we just used to use degreasers from companies like Berryman's or Gunk without much thought. They were very effective but had a strong solvent smell, etc. ....but they worked for a quick "spray and rinse" solution to remove years of grime from engines, etc.

When I said I had an assortment of brushes, I really do have quite a collection I gathered over the years. Some of which include large bottlebrush-like products for cleaning wheels, etc. They work well in engine compartments too in order to get in between hoses and in hard to reach areas. ....smaller boars hair brushes for more detailed work and larger ones for everything on top. .....siff ones, bendable ones, small ones, large ones, etc.

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if I’m using a garden hose how much would be too much as far as hitting the intake area to rinse it off? That’s an area that I’m paranoid about, as well as the wires but I believe that’s just me being paranoid considering it’s fairly new and should be sealed yet, but you never know, the previous owners obviously didn’t take very good care of this lady and I wasn’t aware until owning it and doing work on it to see the screws driled into the wheel wells and center console that doesn’t line up or the windshield wipers scraping the hood when I lift them up off the windshield.o_O

edit: I wasn’t asking if it’s good for paint, I was/am wondering how bad it is going to be for my paint or plastic if some cleaner comes into contact with either. Sorry for the confusion
Not sure how the 2012 intake is plumbed but just cover any opening like that as @hogtownrocketsled suggests. My wife's '08 had it routed through the fender so I simply didn't worry about it.

Personally, I just use the shower setting most times on the hose attachment I use. That's a decent gauge as to how gentle the stream should be IMO as most can relate to it. Use a stream if you want to but again, the idea is to rinse vs. flooding the areas with water or using the water under pressure to remove grime. ......the product and agitation is for that.

No, some are perfectly successful using a strong jet of water and/or a pressure washer for these things but it's not something I would recommend. I might use it in some special cases myself but I would never suggest other do it as there are risks as mentioned. In fact, I caused and issue with my wife's '08 once even when just using a gentle stream of water to clean. A routine process turned into a couple hour project to find out why the car was stumbling after I was done. The water actually highlighted a problem and I was able to find it. .....a loose plug wire that was arcing once the area was wet. It was concerning at first but turned out for the better since I was able to fix an issue that could have left my wife stranded.

As for the paint, it really depends on the products / chemicals you are using. There are some you really don't want to get on your external finish, trim, etc. but then again, there are some that aren't too good for finishes in your engine compartment either that will discolor painted surfaces / components in their or cause bare aluminum to oxidize and so on. .....the latter can even be caused by common products like the vanilla version of Simple Green if left on too long.

I actually used an engine degreaser product once that acted as a paint remover on my painted, steel intake on a Chevy Silverado. I had to strip and repaint it as the product actually caused it to bubble up. .....so, even products specifically targeted for these tasks can be nasty stuff.

I just stick with APCs I know don't cause these issues or simply car wash soaps to maintain afterward. The APCs I still don't want overspraying on to my external panels though as they can act as wax / sealant strippers. I also don't let products dry on surfaces which is one reason I don't spray them on hot or warm engines / components. .....that and I don't like inhaling fumes that may contain harmful substances (some otherwise safe products can become harmful once vaporized like that).

Just be mindful of where you spray your product. The Meguiars APCs I use are meant to be diluted so my gallon jugs go a long way. I also like that I can use them in spray bottles, as a solution in a bucket, etc. I can also use them liberally as 1 gallon can go a long way. IIRC, the Meguiars APC I use has a suggested 4:1 ratio for the maximum strength which gives you 5 gallons of product from 1 gallon. ....but be warned, even stuff like this labeled as "citrus cleaner", etc. may sound safe but can be corrosive and react with certain metals, etc. .....and have potential harmful effect if inhaled too much and so on. The Meguiars stuff I use is but again, I don't let it dry on surfaces, I don a respirator when working on large areas and use nitrile gloves.
 
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