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Cleaning sand off an engine

I have an 04 nissan quest and they are built in such a way that replacing the spark plugs is a 4 hour job that requires taking part of the engine apart ( I’m on for doing all of that myself, but because I life in Florida and have driven too long with the engine cover off I have a fair bit of sand and grit on the top of the engine around the ignition coil/spark plug holes. I don’t want any water getting into those holes when I wash it, but I also don’t want any sand getting in there when I replace them.


How about some compressed air? Do you have a friend with a compressor you can borrow? If not, maybe a few cans of compressed air from the office supply store can help.

I agree with Whitey but don’t even start the air compressor or use the “canned air” without goggles.

I’d go to town with a shop vac first. You can blow stuff where you don’t want it.

I pressure-washed my Crown Vic motor ONCE…Cost me 3 COPS before it ran right again…So that’s NOT the way to do it…

3 COPS ???- must be a story of some kind there. Don’t keep us in suspense.

I wouldn’t go with the canned air just because I know it freezes stuff. Maybe the shop vac with some kind of brush on the end then compressed air for whatever is left?

The can of compressed air gets cold when you spray it, but what comes out won’t freeze anything, especially if you hold it at a proper distance, but if you have another source of compressed air, there is no reason not to use it. Your plan sounds good to me.

COPS = coil over plugs…All the later Ford modular engines use them along with many others…$70 each…

And once you get the top of the manifold off, I’d put a 2" wide piece of masking tape across the intake openings, just in case…

Haven’t worked on a Quest yet, but I did a spark plug change on a Sienna without removing the intake manifold (all the other parts did come off, though). It’s shoe-horned in there much like the Quest, so it’s most likely possible, just not easy. I imagine it’s helpful I’m tall with long arms. The owner (friend) was short and simply couldn’t get into what they laughingly call an engine compartment as well as I could. You have to do everything by feel.

Good luck…Chase

In any big-box hardware store you can buy tools for the shop vac that have long, snouts with small opens. They’re made for cleaning keycoards and such. Using one of these you can can a serious amount of vacuum into vrey small areas for cleaning. And, as long as you use a regular water-based or citrus-based cleaner and not a volatile solvent, you can also safely suck the cleaner and the dirt out of the crevaces as long as your shop vac is wet/dry. I’d recommend looking into this approach before others.

Second that only just stuff a length of vacuum hose into the shop vac hose and seal with a rag. Super suction, no need to see. Just use feel to make sure you’re in the plug well. The vacuum will be significant with the reduced diameter.

Good idea, TT. Any other type of small diameter hose, such as fishtank hose (polyethelyn) would work too.