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Re: questions...

[stuff deleted]
>        1. What is the collective wisdom on washing down the under-hood
>           area, including the engine?  I'd wanted to have it done, but
>           the service manager dissuaded me, saying there were too many
>           electronic components that might get damaged. After that, I
>           wasn't about to run it through the local car-wash.


I bought a can of engine bay cleaner (forgot name and brand). It's a spray
can that you spray on the dirty engine bits and let sit for around 10
minutes. Then just hose the engine bay clean. Some scrubbing is required
for really gunky parts. Directions advise plastic-bagging the distributor
to keep it dry. 
I did it to clean up the mess of an oil spill from the leaky valve cover
gasket. It was nice to have a clean engine bay for a while. All dirty again
Might not want to do this on a really flat driveway. The pool of water and
washed off gunk might not be nice to have sitting around.
my 2c, BTW, my car still runs. It's been 4 months since cleaning. Haven't
noticed any plastic or strange parts melting off yet.
Ernest Wong