Your engine compartment is in for a bit of a rough time once the fall rolls around. With so many leaves and needles falling from the trees, there’s a fair chance that they’ll end up on top of, and worse, underneath the hood of your car.
Why is this a problem? Leaves can be dangerous for several reasons. The first is their ability to clog up important drains, which can lead to standing water sitting in places in the engine bay that should never be wet (such as the battery box, fuses, relays or the brake booster). Sudden nighttime chills can even freeze this water and create entirely new problems, with the potential for damage amplified by the expansion of ice.
There’s also the chance that leaves and needles could accumulate to the degree where they pose a fire risk, particularly if they dry out and fall onto a hot exhaust manifold. Other potential problems include blocking the operation of windshield wiper mechanisms and interfering with engine belts, not to mention the potential for squirrels and mice to use this detritus as bedding, make a nest and start gnawing on wires.
Have we sold you on keeping your engine compartment clean yet? Good. Check out these three tips to help you deal with the fall leaf menace.
1. Time for the Shop Vacuum
If you have access to a wet/dry vacuum cleaner and an extension cord, then that’s the perfect weapon to use against leaves. You might be tempted to use compressed air or a leaf blower to try and blow out your engine compartment. However, while this might work in isolated cases with specific drains or vents, you run the risk of simply pushing leaves even deeper into crevices. The suction from a strong vacuum is a much safer bet for getting things clean.
2. Don’t Park Under Trees
There’s not much you can do if there’s a tree sitting directly over your parking spot at home, but when you’re out and about during the fall season, it’s always worth it to park far away from trees. This will help reduce the junk that gets dumped on your car from above and keep your engine compartment spotless.
3. Use A Car Cover
Even if that tree does loom over your driveway, you can protect both your engine compartment and your vehicle’s paint by wrapping it in a car cover whenever it sits for an extended period of time. Car covers also have the added bonus of protecting your automobile from sap, rain and blowing dust and dirt.
Autumn leaves are a real menace for car owners to contend with. It’s worth taking a few precautions to avoid damage down the line.
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Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.