Ever do something really stupid ? Washed my engine, now wont start


Nov 22, 2011
So I been tinkering with my 90 Notch this weekend. Installed a new clutch cable, aluminum quadrant, and firewall adjuster. Worked out great I love the way the clutch pedal feels now.

So while I was working I was thinking, this thing is really greasey. So today I got a can of engine degreaser and headed over to the car wash. I sprayed the engine and engine compartment, let it soak a bit, then washed it off with the high pressure car wash.
Car started, I drove it a few miles to dry it out, then headed for home. Well I got 3 blocks from my house and the car sputtered and died ! Now it will crank fine but wont start !

I've done some stupid things, but this is the worst one in quite a while.
Any ideas as to where I should start diagnosing ?
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it sucks (I know) to be on the receiving end
15 Year Member
Nov 11, 2003
Northern KY
I used to wash mine all the time. I wrapped/duct taped a plastic bag around the distributor and carb first and then sprayed away. Never had any issues with it not starting afterwards.


5 Year Member
Dec 18, 2010
Idaho Falls Id
I had a problem just like that one time after spraying out my engine bay, car ran fine for a few miles then died and would not start. I have an MSD 6A ingnition box, I disconnected it and hooked the wiring harness back to the coil and the car fired right up. So my problem was a damp ignition box.

Do you have one of those? After 24 hours of drying the MSD worked again.


Nov 22, 2011
Well, it looks like I lucked out. I let it dry out for a couple hours, then checked several electrical connectors under the hood, unplugged to see if they were wet inside. They were not, also checked under the rubber boot thats on the dist, and it was dry, so I got in and it fired right up, runs great.
Not sure what it was, but seems alright now. I wont do that again.


Mustang Master
Sep 5, 2003
Montgomery, NY
Glad you resolved the issue.

For future reference, I always wash engines on mine and other cars I clean. The trick is light misting of the water, spray, scrub (I find a stiff bristle, as well as paint brush work well) and then a light mist to clear the dirt/grime and suds off. Avoid electrical connections (although they have never been an issue with light water use) and never spray on the coil packs or distributor.

Hopefully that helps.
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