With what to paint the engine?
Almost all external surfaces of the engine and its components can be painted. Typically the valve cover and plastic shroud are painted, but you can also paint the cylinder block, intake manifold and exhaust manifold guard. A quality painted engine will improve the appearance of the under-hood. In addition, there are several practical benefits. For example, the cylinder block, which is made of cast iron, the paint will protect against rust formation. Any leaks will be clearly visible on an engine painted a light color.
In this article, let’s figure out what to paint the engine, how to properly prepare the engine and its components for painting.
To what temperature does the engine heat up?
For most cars, the normal temperature of a running gasoline engine is between 90 and 105 degrees Celsius. When the temperature exceeds 110 degrees, the engine overheats. Above 120 degrees, damage can occur. The oil in the engine can get 150 to 200 degrees Celsius.
The engine temperature on the dash refers to the coolant, but the outside of the engine and its components have a completely different temperature. Heating can be different. Areas away from the exhaust manifold will have a temperature close to the coolant temperature, which is about 100 degrees. The valve cover can get as hot as 65-120 degrees Celsius, depending on engine speed. The areas near the exhaust manifold are much hotter, about 200 degrees Celsius (the manifold itself gets about 500 degrees Celsius or higher). It also depends a lot on the type of engine and weather conditions. A powerful V-engine on a car driving down a highway in the heat can heat up outside much more than a low-powered engine on a car driving slowly through city streets in the winter. The heat from the engine is dissipated by the cooling system and the air passing through the engine compartment.
Thus, we can conclude that car gasoline engines do not heat up too much, except for the area around the exhaust manifold. So, what to paint the engine with?
With what to paint the engine?
You can find a wide range of high temperature paints on the market. This paint is available both in cans and jars for brush application. Proven foreign brands are Duplicolor, Plastikote, Krylon, Rust-Oleum, POR-15 , VHT (Very High Temperature), Valspar. Also many other both foreign and domestic manufacturers. They sell both heat-resistant paints of different colors and special high-temperature primers and varnishes. Heat-resistant paints are marked by the range of temperatures they can withstand without losing their protective and decorative qualities. Engine Enamel paints, varnishes and primers are typically labeled 350- 550F (350-500 degrees Fahrenheit equals 176-288 degrees Celsius). Given the above engine heat data, this paint is fine for most exterior surfaces. In addition to elevated temperatures, engine paint must be able to withstand exposure to fuels, lubricants, and salts. Quality paints for the engine just have good protective properties. When the temperature rises and falls, they do not change their protective and decorative properties.
Heat-resistant paints may be silicone-based or epoxy-based or multi-polymer and include both. Some paints contain ceramic particles that make the paint heat-resistant and wear-resistant (able to withstand 1000 degrees). Such paint can be used to paint an exhaust manifold or manifold guard or even an exhaust pipe. Powder paints can be considered the most heat resistant, but they require a special spray gun and subsequent high-temperature drying.
Many high temperature paints require heat activation (“baking”). Check the instructions for your particular paint to determine if this process is required. It enhances the appearance and activates all of the unique protective properties of the paint. The curing (activation/baking) process should be slow.
This can be done by infrared drying, in an oven (if the size of the part permits), a construction hair dryer, propane torch, or by natural heating of the engine.
Heating should be done after the paint has dried (usually after 24 hours, it’s better to check the instructions). If you heat with a propane torch, you do not need to heat the paint too much, you just need to quickly, superficially, with the flame. It is the same with the hair dryer. It is not necessary to heat the paint on one place for a long time, it is necessary to drive it evenly with an industrial hair dryer, having previously adjusted it to the necessary temperature. You need to heat and cool the painted surface several times.
The manufacturer recommends the following process of heating the high-temperature paint for its complete polymerization:
- Activate the painted part removed from the machine . Heat to 121 degrees F for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Heat to 204 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Heat to 343 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.
- Activation by heating the engine . Start the engine, let it idle for 10 minutes, cool down for 20 minutes. Start the engine and let it run for 20 minutes, cool for 20 minutes. Run for 30 minutes and you can drive the car for more engine heat.
Can I paint the engine with regular car paint?
Ironically, simple 2-component automotive paint (with hardener) sprayed with an airbrush gives good results when painting an engine. Two-component paint cures chemically, not just dries like spray paint from cans. This way, the paint finish is stable. The cured paint shows good resistance to combustibles and lubricants.
As was written in this article above, most engine surfaces get heated to about 100 degrees. The area close to the exhaust manifold heats up more, but no higher than 200 degrees. For comparison, the body temperature of a black car in the heat can heat up to 70-80 degrees. And if you add more heating of the hood from the engine, the temperature can be higher. In this case, the car paint on the body is not destroyed. While car paint is not specifically designed for the engine, high-quality two-component paint can withstand temperatures over 100 degrees. The main advantage is the hardenability of two-component paint. Especially since there has already been practical experience with painting engines with automotive two-component paint with positive results. It is better to paint the exhaust manifold or the exhaust manifold guard with a special high-temperature paint designed for the temperature range these surfaces are heated to.
How do you paint an engine?
It is convenient to paint the engine when it has been removed from the car, and possibly disassembled. For example, the engine has been removed for repair. However, this is not always possible, so you need to look by location at what access is available, what can be removed to improve access, or only certain parts of the engine can be painted.
Preparing the engine for painting
The key to any quality paint job is thorough surface preparation. In order for the paint to adhere well to the cast iron engine block, the metal must be clean and dry. The cast iron surface has many small irregularities and pores that need to be washed thoroughly.
Use dishwashing detergent and a brush to remove the oily dirt. After that, use scotchbrite to mat all painted surfaces.
Clean the surface with white spirit or other similar solvent.
Not only do you need to remove contaminants from the engine surface, but also any rust marks, if any. In some areas you will need to use a wire brush and a drill bit
After the engine surface has been cleaned, it should be dried. If possible, you should blow out all areas of the engine with compressed air or use a vacuum cleaner set to blow out air. The engine surface should be thoroughly degreased before painting.
Masking the engine compartment
After cleaning the engine compartment and thoroughly drying it, you can tape up all the elements that are not to be painted. To do this, you need to use painter’s tape. For larger areas, you can use newspaper or polyethylene. You also need to cover all the places where the paint can get inside the engine.
It is not necessary to remove all of the attachment components, but it is better to remove the drive belts and spark plug wires. It may also be necessary to remove any hoses that interfere with the paint.
Painting the engine
So, we have figured out how to prepare the engine for painting and what to paint the engine with. Now you can move on to painting.
The layer of paint should be thin, so that the heat from the engine is quickly dissipated. Automotive paints require a pre-application of primer to get good adhesion. It is best to use an epoxy primer or a special heat-resistant primer. One or two thin coats will be sufficient. It is not necessary to use a filler primer.
Ensure good ventilation when painting. The surface to be painted should not be hot. Paint at a temperature of 19-35 degrees.
Shake the can well before spraying the paint so that all paint components are mixed. Hold the can about 25-30 cm from the surface. If you hold it too far away, the paint will dry and will not drip.
The first coat is applied very thin, with a light dusting. This coat will create a base for subsequent coats. After the paint dries, you need to spray 2 full coats on the entire surface of the engine, with an intermediate drying time of 20 minutes between coats.
If a special high temperature paint has been used, it may require exposure to temperature to acquire all its unique properties. Methods of activating high-temperature paint have been described in this article above.
How do I paint a valve cover?
It’s best to remove the valve cover and then paint it, but you can do without removing it.
To remove the cover, you need to remove the spark plug wires and unscrew the cover fasteners. You will need to pick up the valve cover with a flathead screwdriver first from one edge, then the other. You may have to force it to break the sealant gasket. If the gasket is rubber, however, the cover will come off easily. The sealant will need to be repaired later. After removing the valve cover, it’s best to cover the top of the engine with plastic or a clean rag to keep anything from getting there. After removing, place the valve cover on a clean surface.
The valve cover is made of aluminum and has a protective coating that may be partially destroyed. It is best removed with a paint flush (see the article on removing paint for details on using a paint flush). Spray or dab the flush so that the old coating is saturated. Allow at least 10 minutes for the flush to work. Next, use a wire brush to remove any remaining coating. After removing the paint, rinse the valve cover surface liberally with water and wipe dry with a towel. Preparation for painting is very important. Any missed, poorly prepared spot will cause the paint to peel off. In addition to cleaning, you need to treat the surface with red scotch tape.
Paint stripping helps remove the old coating easily.
To make sure all oil contamination is removed, soak the surface of the valve cover with solvent. Spray the solvent and let it work for 10 minutes. Then wipe off the solvent and wipe the surface thoroughly with degreaser. It is necessary to cover all openings where paint and primer should not enter. Use masking tape for this purpose.
Now you can move on to priming and painting. It is better not to paint in the scorching sunlight, but to do it in the shade or indoors. To paint the valve cover you need to put it on a hard clean place, it is better that it is slightly elevated. It should be easy to paint all sides of the cover.
It is best to apply a special epoxy high temperature primer (Engine Enamel Grey Primer) to the aluminum valve cover. This will greatly increase the adhesion of the subsequent coat of paint by spraying 2 thin coats at 10-15 minute intervals.
After the primer has dried for 30 minutes, start painting. Apply the paint in thin coats, with an intermediate drying time of 5-10 minutes between coats. You may need to apply up to 4-5 coats depending on the hiding power of the paint. For better gloss, the paint can be coated.
The first layer is a special primer, then layers of paint.
After painting and drying, the valve cover must be put back in place and screwed on. If a sealant has been installed, a new sealant should be used for a tight and airtight connection. If you put the old rubber gasket back on, it needs to be cleaned and coated with a thin layer of oil.
You have to be careful not to overtighten the bolts and screw the valve cover so that the gasket is tight. If the valve cover bolts are loose or too tight, oil can seep through the gasket.
How do I paint a plastic engine cover?
The plastic shroud is painted the same way as all other engine parts. The difference is the use of a special primer for plastic (adhesion enhancer).
It is better to remove the cover from the engine. This way it will be more convenient to prepare and paint it. The plastic should be thoroughly washed and treated with a gray scotch-brite and dried. If there are elements that are not to be painted, they should be sealed with masking tape. Degrease the surface before painting
The first layer is to spray a primer for plastic (one thin layer is enough), wait 10-15 minutes, then spray a regular primer, then paint, then varnish (if the paint requires coating varnish).
How to paint the car engine
The need to paint the engine may arise for various reasons. For some car owners, the aesthetic component is extremely important, while others specially prepare the car for various shows, shows, etc.
As for ordinary drivers, usually the idea to paint the engine arises when the engine had to be removed from the car for the repair of the unit itself or as part of the conduct of bodywork affecting the engine compartment.
One way or another, but painting the block head, valve cover and the BC itself requires some knowledge, tools and some level of preparation. However, if everything is done correctly, the end result will definitely please the owner. Below we will talk about what to paint the cylinder block, valve cover and cylinder head, as well as how to properly perform this procedure.
Painting a car engine: features and nuances
As a rule, to paint the engine, the unit is better to disassemble. For this reason, it is much rarer to paint the ICE, which is simply removed from the car for various reasons, but was not disassembled for repair. In other words, the painting of the engine can be considered a logical conclusion to the overhaul before the final assembly.
Thus it is important to consider that the painting is performed just before the assembly of the unit, and not after. The matter is that separate elements are painted separately, and with different paints. It is dictated by the fact that these or those details of the engine are in different conditions during the operation.
In other words, it is strongly not recommended to paint already assembled engine with one type of paint. Moreover, if you want not only “refresh” the appearance, but also to protect the engine from corrosion, then this issue must be approached with particular responsibility.
You should also understand that the materials that are used to paint the engine must meet a number of requirements, taking into account the peculiarities of their location in this or that environment. Let us add that the final result and service life of the applied paint coating is highly dependent on the equipment by which the paint was applied, as well as compliance with the requirements for the preparation of surfaces for painting and peculiarities of the application of the material.
In practice it turns out that it is easier for a car owner to address a service station painting shop, as the engine painting with the help of special equipment is usually done qualitatively. However, such variant is not suitable for everyone, as it requires additional financial expenses. In this case an excellent opportunity to save money is an independent preparation of parts for painting.
How to prepare the engine for painting by yourself
Preparing the surfaces of parts for painting is a task that requires a lot of time. If we talk about the conditions of the garage, the elements need to be thoroughly cleaned and well degreased.
Moreover, the complex shape of many parts often complicates the process. That said, cleaning is still essential because it’s the only way to achieve quality after painting
Given the above, it becomes clear that you need to have patience, as well as the need for compositions and substances for cleaning and degreasing the engine, that is, the painted surfaces. Also, in the case of the ICE, it is recommended to abandon the usual household remedies, as it is optimal to use special solvents. As a last resort, you can use external engine cleaners.
If there is a desire to reduce the time for work, you can use the service of sandblasting. The specified method allows you to remove the remains of old paint, as well as to clean parts from rust and dirt. In case there is no desire to pay for sandblasting, you can make the device yourself. The main thing is to have a compressor in the garage.
As a rule, a quality sandblasting treatment is very good at cleaning parts. The only thing to remember, with such work requires sealing the holes of the engine, so that the abrasive does not get inside. For this purpose, you can use masking tape, with which all the holes are glued.
More serious defects in the form of corrosion centers must be grinded separately. This work can be done manually (with sandpaper with a medium “grain”), and with a grinding wheel. As for the application of fillers and further sanding of putty surfaces, as well as the use of a primer before painting, this approach in the painting of the engine is not often used.
However, if there was a performance of such actions, then it is mandatory to blow out the parts and all the holes with air from a compressor. This will remove all particles from hard-to-reach cavities, ducts, etc.
Also, before painting, it is necessary to re-seal the holes more thoroughly, because no paint should get there. If the holes are threaded, then it is necessary to screw the appropriate bolts or studs into these places. In those holes where there are no threads, carefully insert wooden “stoppers” or make similar plugs.
As a last resort, you can use duct tape again. If this is not done, then after painting the cylinder block, head and other parts, the paint will get into the holes, and after it dries, there is a high probability of clogging the various channels.
Car engine paint and peculiarities of the material application process
It is quite obvious that the best way to paint parts can be painted with paints that involve the subsequent “baking” of the freshly painted part in a special thermal oven. For example, powder coating the engine and similar solutions.
This type of paint can easily withstand high temperatures, which is especially important for the engine. However, not every owner is ready to pay for such an expensive procedure, preferring to do everything in his garage.
So, to paint the engine yourself, and without special equipment, you need a special heat-resistant paint for engines. It is not necessary to buy such paint in the calculation that it will be painted all parts. The fact is that different elements under the hood are not heated equally. For example, the intake manifold is not exposed to much heat, while the exhaust is strongly heated.
It turns out that the more expensive heat-resistant or powder coat paint should only be used on the parts that are exposed to the maximum heat, while it is not necessary to use such paints for the “cooler” areas and elements. This information allows significant savings within the total cost of the paintwork.
As for the various paints, today it is better to use a ready-made product. Special automotive paints and automotive enamels (e.g. Body, Abro, etc.) are good for the task.
When choosing such materials, you should remember that the painting of the cylinder head and cylinder block itself, as well as the engine crankcase tray involves the use of a paint that is able to withstand heat up to + 400 degrees Celsius. In this case, the requirements for the paint for the valve cover, as well as elements of the intake, not so strict.
Another thing to consider is that the exhaust manifold requires painting only with a special material. We are talking about heat-resistant paint, which can withstand heating more than 1 thousand degrees.
If there is no desire to purchase ready-made paint for the engine, the material can also be made yourself. To do this, you will need to have the necessary components, which are mixed in the required ratio. For example, a popularly known paint called “silver paint” can be made in a garage.
We also recommend reading the article on how to make noise insulation of the engine compartment with your own hands. From this article you will learn about the features and nuances of the process, as well as what materials should be used for high-quality noise insulation of the engine and the engine compartment.
In the store of housewares you need to buy olive oil, varnish, some aluminum powder, epoxy adhesive, as well as solvent. You can also partially include zinc or other metal powder to replace aluminum. Once the paint is made, it can be used to paint intake elements and other areas that are not subject to significant heat.
For painting, it is optimal to use a paint gun. In the process of applying the paint, the tool should be held evenly, without tilting at an angle up or down, at a distance of about 20 cm from the surface to be painted. The paint should be applied in several layers (usually up to 3 layers). Parts should be dried after painting at an average temperature of + 25 degrees Celsius for 24 hours. If the temperature is noticeably lower, then the drying time should also be increased.
To sum up.
As you can see, the decision to paint the engine can not only significantly improve the appearance of the power unit and attachments, but also protect the ICE from corrosion.
We also recommend reading the article on how to insulate the engine and underhood space yourself. From this article you will learn about the features and nuances of the insulation process, as well as what material or ready-made solutions is optimal to use as additional insulation of the engine.
If in the process of painting was maintained technological process, and the paint itself is of good quality, then such a coating will hold on the surfaces of the motor and keep an acceptable appearance for at least 3-4 years.
Also on the painted parts less accumulates dirt, such an engine is easier to wash away from the drips of engine oil and technical fluids, that is, the process of forced or preventive washing of the engine as easy as possible.
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