Three Step Guide For Cleaning Your Classic Car's Engine Bolts To Determine Their Condition

If you are currently restoring a classic car's engine, you may find it difficult to determine the condition of the bolts because they are caked with grease and rust. If so, after removing the bolts, use the following three-step guide for cleaning your classic car's engine bolts with household products so you can find out whether they can be reused or should be replaced.

Step 1: Blow Excess Dirt Away with Compressed Air

Before you deal with the stuck-on grease and rusty metal, this first step involves getting rid of the surface dirt and dust. You can either use your home garage's air compressor or purchase a can of compressed air.

If you were to attempt to wipe off the dirt, it could become embedded in the bolts' threads. It could also get mixed with any grease and oil, creating a messy combination of dirt and mud that would be more difficult to remove during the second step.

When you blow on the bolts, spray the air on both the outer and inner surfaces. Even if you do not remove all of the dust and dirt, getting rid of the excess will help with the rest of the process.

Step 2: Soak the Bolts in Dark Cola

After blowing off the dust, the next step is to remove the grease and oil from the bolts. If you do not have any automotive engine degreaser on hand, you can remove the grimy layer by soaking the bolts in dark cola.

The phosphoric acid contained in the cola breaks down petroleum products. After soaking the bolts for a few hours in undiluted cola, use a wire brush to fully break down the oil and grease. Then, wipe the surfaces with a rag. Once the grime has been removed, go on to the next step to deal with the rust.

Step 3: Scrub Away the Rust with a Vinegar and Baking Soda Paste

When the bolts have become rusty, you may not be able to fully visualize how much they have deteriorated. This step uses white distilled vinegar and baking soda to remove the surface layer of oxidation so you can fully see any damage.

The acetic acid in the vinegar softens the rust, while the baking soda's abrasiveness helps remove it. Mix together a tablespoon each of the ingredients, and mix until they form a paste. Then, use a small metal brush to scrub the surface with the paste. 

Allow the paste to sit on the bolts for about an hour, then rinse with warm water. Let them dry, and inspect them for holes or cracks that indicate they need to be replaced.

Once you can clearly see the condition of the bolts after removing all of the dirt, grease, and rust, you may discover that the metal has deteriorated beyond the point where you can reuse them. If so, contact a car engine parts store, like Myers Auto Salvage, to see if they have replacement bolts for your engine's model and size.