The health and functionality of your vehicle primarily depend on the good health of your engine. A good working engine should be well-maintained by implementing an effective maintenance routine. Let us look at some essential tips on maintaining a car engine, allowing it to operate at peak performance for a long time to come.
Modern cars are incredibly durable and relatively trouble-free. As a result, it is easy to forget that they still require regular maintenance checks to ensure all its components are in proper working order. There are many vital components under the hood of your car that need your attention regularly. For instance, the engine is a critical component of a car as it is like its heart. It must run smoothly in order for the vehicle to keep moving.
You must maintain your car engine to avoid serious problems and unnecessary vulnerabilities, like car breakdowns. You can effectively manage your car engine by frequently analyzing it and checking on the working conditions of its various components. Performing such general maintenance checks every one or two weeks ensures your car engine functions more efficiently and lasts longer. Let us discuss some general car maintenance tips that will improve your vehicle’s overall performance and reduce significant repair expenses.
How to Maintain a Car Engine
Regularly check the oil level
Engine oil serves as the lifeblood of a car engine. It is responsible for lubricating all the moving and rotating parts in the engine. Over time, engine oil degrades while some of it gets burnt off by the engine during the combustion process, resulting in a decrease in the oil level. A drop in oil levels results in increased friction in the engine’s moving parts, leading to mechanical wear due to large deposits of sludge and carbon in the engine. Consequently, the drivability and performance of your car will reduce tremendously.
Therefore, you must regularly check the level of your engine oil from time to time and replace it when needed. A general rule of thumb is that you should change your engine oil every 5000 miles or three months. Consult your car owner’s manual for the recommended oil change intervals. However, you may need to change your oil more often if you drive a lot in start-stop traffic, or on dusty roads or tow, a truck, or you mainly take short trips that do not give your car enough time to warm up.
Use an oil dipstick to check the level of oil in your engine. The markers on the dipstick will let you know how much oil is left in the engine, and whether it requires a refill. If it is brown/black (dirty), it is an indicator that the oil is due for a change.
Avoid overheating your engine
A car engine has a cooling system that aids in maintaining and regulating its internal temperatures. As fuel burns in the engine’s combustion chambers, it generates a lot of heat. With the help of the cooling system through the coolant, such excess heat moves out of the engine and ensures the engine’s working temperatures remain within the proper limits. Therefore, lack of coolant may be caused by a leak, which may cause the engine to overheat, leading to severe and expensive car issues.
As a result, it is crucial to check the level of coolant in your car engine regularly. Follow your car manual on the appropriate steps to follow when doing this. Always keep the level of the coolant above the minimum but below the maximum level to avoid any spills. Similarly, if you check your coolant and find that it has a deep red or orange hue, you must replace it and flush out the radiator since it means the old coolant is contaminated.
If you find that your car’s engine is sluggish or feels lacking in power, consider taking your car to the shop for a good tune-up. Depending on your car and engine type, a tune-up involves changing the air filters, spark plugs, carburetors, cap and rotor, ignition wires, and other various cables.
It may also involve cleaning out the entire throttle body, the fuel injection system, and the PCV valves of your engine. Specifically, the fuel injection system may need a tune-up using the special injection cleaning solutions that aid in improving the mileage of the car; thus, extending its lifespan. The tune-up process in older vehicles may be more intense than that of newer models. Many experts recommend a regular tune-up after every 60,000 to 90,000 miles.
Regularly check on your belts
A car engine consists of rubber belts that help in performing many vital functions. For instance, timing belts in the engine helps ensure the engine’s camshaft open and close the valves at the same time as the pistons. Other belts in the engine aid in running the water pump, air conditioner, fan, alternator, and many other engine components.
After some time, you may begin hearing squealing sounds from under your hood, meaning it may be time to change your belts as they are bound to wear out and crack. If any of your belts snaps while the engine is running, it could lead to severe engine damage.
Make sure you regularly check your belts for any signs of wear and tear by turning them over slightly to see if they have any visible cracks on them. Spinning or squealing belts also indicate that it is time for a replacement. Check your vehicle’s manual to ascertain the intervals at which you should replace your belts. Most car manufacturers recommend replacing them between 60,000 to 105000 miles.
Ensure your engine is breathing
Just like humans, vehicles need a constant flow of air. Apart from fuel, air is the next most crucial ingredient that keeps your engine running properly. The engine uses air to burn the fuel in its combustion chambers, facilitating its breathing.
Air filters help in preventing debris, dust, and dirt from accessing your engine and clogging it. However, it is common for air filters to accumulate dirt, meaning they require a replacement. A clogged air filter restricts the amount of air flowing to your engine, leading to sluggish and decreased car engine performance. An old air filter may also experience mechanical wear and tear, which allows it to allow dirt and debris to have access to the engine. As a result, this could lead to expensive damage to delicate engine parts.
As you check on your oil levels, check if your air filter is clean and free of any dirt and debris. Similarly, depending on the road conditions and your driving habits, it is crucial to replace your air filters at regular intervals. Read your owner’s manual to see the recommended intervals to replace your filters by the manufacturer. Generally, most air filters should be replaced after every 15000 to 20000 miles, and even more frequently, if you often drive on unpaved or dusty roads.
Practice smooth driving
Whether you have an old or new vehicle, tweaking your driving habits to ensure that they are not harsh on the machinery also aids in maintain your car engine. Careless driving, like that which involves constant heavy braking and accelerating as well as driving in the wrong gear for your speed, puts immense pressure on various engine components, causing them to tear. The unnecessary load potentially results in broken springs, buckled wheels, and damaged tires.
As a result, it is vital to practice mechanical sympathy as it significantly reduces wear and tear, resulting in overall better performance of your car engine. Reduce the instances of sudden braking by paying constant attention to the road, and make smooth inputs through major controls, such as the pedals, gearbox, and steering wheel, to ensure the longevity of these parts.
Allow your engine to rev fully once every few thousand miles to prevent carbon deposits from building up in various engine components, which could cause a misfire and drastically reduce the efficiency of your vehicle. Keep in mind that too much variation in the revs tires wears them out. Only rev your car when you are on a quiet road, preferably the highway, when the engine oil is warm. In turn, this gives you better mileage and keeps the engine running for more extended periods.
More so, diesel vehicles may experience issues with clogged diesel particulate filters (DPF), whose primary role is to trap harmful exhaust emissions. Driving such vehicles on a long clear road at least once every month aids in clearing this problem.
A car engine is the most complex and expensive component of your vehicle. It requires proper care and, in turn, will provide a good resale value when the time comes for you to sell the car. Following a regular maintenance schedule aids in maintain your car engine in its best condition and prolonging its service life. By following the tips mentioned above and taking your vehicle for regular servicing, your engine is sure to stay healthy and saves you a lot of money on costs in maintenance, replacements, and repairs. Spark plugs are an important part of maintaining any vehicle, so make sure to check out our guide on the best spark plugs for 5.7 hemi engines!