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I've opened the bonnet to discover that the oil cap is off, and oil is all over everything. How can I get it cleaned up, and what damage will it have caused, if any?

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This was a situation of some surface oil getting on everything but it's an excuse to share my under-hood cleaning procedure.

  1. Warm up the engine just a tad. Nothing should be painful to touch but should be noticeably warm.
  2. Take your bottle of Simple Green and spray it around the surfaces of the engine bay. Nothing should be dripping but try to get a bit everywhere.
  3. Get out the hose and wash the rest of the car (with car soap, not Simple Green, don't be silly).
  4. When you're ready to dry the car off, set the sprayer on your hose to "mist." You want a very little bit of clear water to come out so that nothing drowns in the next step.
  5. Mist down the engine bay. Note how easily all the grease and dirt washes out from nooks and crannies of the engine.
  6. Marvel at the nice looking engine!
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It shouldn't have caused any damage, as long as there is still plenty of oil left in the engine.

To remove it you will need to use some kind of degreaser - you can buy proper engine degreaser at many automotive suppliers. It is probably worth getting the engine bay properly steam cleaned however, as you'll never be able to get into all the little holes and corners yourself!

  • Phew thanks nick the oil has pooled in a few little places and there is luckily only a light covering over the drivers half under the bonnet. Luckily it's a new antara and the engine had a cover over it. Thanks again – Susan Ballantyne Jul 2 '14 at 9:30

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