Washing engine?

i have a 1990 ford bronco, washed the engine while in idle, drove truck home, killed engine and finished cleaning. went to start engine, it cranks and turns over but will not start. what did i do, and what can i do to fix it?

I’ve never washed an engine, too many electrical parts. Water and electricity don’t mix well. You didn’t give any info on the methods you used in the cleaning process. I’m guessing you sprayed it real good at a self serve car wash. Did you cover anything with plastic as protection from the water?

The best case scenario is you have got moisture all over your spark plug wires, distributor cap, and other ignition parts. If they are just wet and not damaged the car should start when it dries out. Open the hood and leave it open. If you can get some fans to move some air through the engine compartment it will dry out faster.

I don’t want to comment on the worst case scenario, there are just so many possible bad outcomes. After it is completely dry for about 12 hours if it still won’t start I suggest a tow to a garage and let them evaluate and report what they find.

Don’t over crank the starter, no need to burn it out. If the car is dry is should sputter a bit, but start pretty easily. It will run “rough” for a minute or so but should smooth out. If it stays rough, leave it alone for a while and try again. Same result, go for the tow.

Pop the distributor cap loose and look inside. Heat attracts moisture and condensation will build up inside the cap after the engine is shut off.

Today, it’s like removing the back cover from your television set and cleaning it out with a high-pressure washer, putting the back cover back on and expecting the TV to work…I learned the hard way that the coil packs used on late-model Fords do not like being washed…($80 each)…

Try take dist cap off and spray contact cleaner or wd-40 in it, you may get lucky.
2 1st thing every owner should have is a spark checker, It goes in end of spark plug wire and the other end goes on plug. Crank engine and it sparks, if not you have ignition problem.
#2 is a can if starting fluid with straw.
with these 2 thing you can really narrow down what is wrong.

Wait a day and try er again. Water on old plug wires will cause the problem, so I think a new set of them will fix it. Been there, done that.

Ix-nay on the WD-40. That stuff is not an electronic cleaner, it’s a penetrating oil, and not particularly good at that either.

That is an excellent analogy, Caddyman.

If the OP was driving a '54 Chevy, “washing the engine” would not be a problem once the plug wires and distributor dried out, but on a modern car laden with a huge number of electronic devices, using water underneath the hood is just… not a good idea… and can lead to some expensive repairs.