Simple Steps to Check Your Engine Regularly and Thus Protect Your Car Investment

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So, OK, you paid your thousands for your vehicle. You feel great with it and also relax a bit and put some check up tasks for later.

Well, you better watch out!

Some of the most common mistakes car owners make at this point are to skip fluid checks and also the service their engines between longer periods of time.

You must always check at least the fluid levels on your car. If you don't, you may miss a minor defect, for example, a coolant leakage.

If you don't detect that leakage, then you will eventually run out of coolant in your vehicle, his leading to major damages to the engine and eventually diminishing your vehicle overall performance.

Protect your vehicle investment by checking your engine regularly.

In order to keep the engine in good condition this is what you must take into account:

- Engine lubrication: This can be achieved with oil servicing on time.

- Overheating prevention: Done with periodical coolant and radiator check ups

- Proper and properly scheduled engine maintenance and tune up

- Immediately eliminate any minor engine defects

------------------------------Checking the Engine Condition.------------------------------

Do you hear any noise when the engine is running?.

The engine should run evenly and you should not hear any strong noises, knocking, pinging, or whistling while the engine is idling or during acceleration.

When pressing the accelerator, the engine should accelerate quickly, with no delays or loud noises.

The idle should be stable during a stop. No smoke should come out from the tail pipe.

A good engine should be dry. The more leaks on an engine, the more damage your engine may have.

During routine engine maintenance and tune ups, cleanings, adjustments, and necessary replacements, check for the following:

- Fuel Filter: related to the loss of engine power when dirty.

- Air Filter: related to the loss of engine power, increased fuel consumption, and so on

- Spark Plugs: must be replaced to increase engine performance.

- Timing Belt, when it is damaged it can induce serious problems for the engine

- Coolant: must be replace to maintain the anti-corrosive properties.

-----------------------Check the Oil Pressure.-----------------------

Always check the oil pressure on a cold engine. Start the engine, and look at the low oil pressure warning lamp or oil pressure gauge on the instrument panel.

The time between the engine start and the time you note oil pressure at the instrument panel should be no more than one to two seconds. If this time is longer than two seconds, it means that either the oil filter is bad or the engine is too worn.

If the low oil pressure warning light goes on while engine is running or idle, there is definitely a problem with the engine. Stop your vehicle immediately if the oil pressure warning lamp goes on while driving to avoid further damage to the engine.

-----------------------------------------Check the Engine Oil Level and Condition.----------------------------------------- This is very critical. Without oil a running engine will damage in a matter of seconds.

If the engine is leaking oil, try new gaskets or seals to fix the leak.

If the engine is burning oil, the valve guides and seals are most likely worn out, but the rings and cylinders could require replacement, too.

Check the engine oil on the dipstick periodically, especially if your car isn't brand new.

Change to oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles. Immediately after performing an oil and filter change, check for oil leaks to be sure that the oil filter has been installed properly.

During oil level check up the oil should normally reach the “FULL” mark on the dipstick.

Do not add oil unless level is below the “ADD” or the “LOW” marks on the dipstick.

Never add oil to reach above the “FULL” mark, to avoid damaging of the spark plugs.

When you regularly check your oil, you will become familiar with the rate of oil consumption of your car and you'll know when the consumption is rapidly increasing.

Also check for the oil condition. Here's how:

The oil should look clean and translucent. If the oil is slightly-brown, it can be fine too.

However, if it's dark-brown, but still transparent, although still admissible, it would be better to change it. If it's too black, it's time to change it.

If the engine oil on the dipstick is color “latté” or if it is foamy, then the engine coolant is mixing with the engine oil, i.e. an evidence of an internal engine defect (such as a blown head gasket or cracked block).

Also, the oil should never have a gasoline smell. It means there is some fuel leaking and this can be dangerous.

----------------------------------Check the Coolant Level and Leaks. ----------------------------------

Check the coolant (antifreeze) level and investigate the system for leaks periodically.

NEVER open the radiator of a car that has just been running. Wait at least 15-20 minutes after the engine has been turned off for the engine temperature to drop before adding any fluid into the system. The cooling system of a car is under high pressure and the fluid is usually hotter than boiling water. 

Begin your check of the cooling system by viewing the front side of the radiator and the space between the engine radiator and air conditioner radiator; it should not be clogged with debris, such as leaves or heavy pollen. One of the most common reasons for overheating is debris buildup in this area.

Be sure that electric fan operates, and water pump drive belt has proper tension. The water pump should not have coolant seepage.

Check the radiator for any trace of damage and all water hoses for leaks. If you find any coolant leak, try to stop it up as soon as possible to avoid engine overheating and have a mechanic inspect the damaged area immediately.

Next, look for the cooling system expansion tank; it is usually translucent white so you can see the fluid level without opening it.

The expansion tank has two level marks on the side of it: "FULL" and "LOW". Check the coolant level in the expansion tank. The coolant level should be between "LOW" and "FULL" marks in the coolant expansion tank. If it's lower, you should add it, because a low coolant level may cause the engine to overheat and therefore result in engine damage.

When engine temperature is reduced (in 15-20 minutes after the engine has been turned off) , simply add a coolant into the expansion tank till its level be at "FULL" mark.

If the level frequently falls below "LOW" after adding fluid, you probably have a leak and must have it checked as soon as possible. If there is no coolant in the expansion tank at all, you should add the coolant directly into the radiator.

If the coolant color brown or rust-colored, the car may need a radiator flush. The coolant should not have any engine oil in it. If you see oil in the radiator or expansion tank, it may be evidence of an internal engine defect, such as a blown head gasket.

Antifreeze is toxic, so be sure to capture and recycle the drained fluid. Keep it off your skin and away from your eyes. It can also damage painted surfaces, so avoid spilling it on your car.

--------------------------------------Automatic Transmission Fluid Check up.--------------------------------------

Automatic transmission is a very complicated device and its repair is costly. Most automatic transmissions must be checked with the engine running and warmed up. Also, make sure the car is on a level surface and fully warmed up.

If you not sure how to check the automatic transmission fluid, here is a step-by-step explanation:

Begin by letting the engine idle with the parking brake engaged and your foot on the brake.

Move the gear selector through each gear. This ensures that the fluid is circulating through the pumps, thereby providing you with an accurate reading.

Once you have done this, put the vehicle in park, but leave the brake engaged and the engine running.

The transmission dipstick is located near the rear of the engine. Pull the transmission dipstick out, wipe it clean with a rag, and note the markings on the end of the stick. The usual markings are "FULL" and "ADD 1 PINT". Inset the dipstick fully and remove it again to take a reading.

If the engine is cool, it should be at the upper end of the "COLD" mark.

If the engine is hot, the level should be at the upper end of the "HOT" mark.

When the transmission is warm, the level should be in the safe zone between the hash marks. If it's lower, you should add some amount of automatic transmission fluid.

Check the fluid condition also: If it's too black and has a burnt smell - your transmission is going to break!

Normally it should be clean and transparent. Its color may be different, from red to brown. Wipe the dipstick with clean white paper and look at the paper. Normally there should be no black deposits, no metal particles, no dirt left on the paper.

How to add the transmission fluid:

Never add fluid unless it is below the "ADD" mark and never bring it above the "FULL" mark. Make sure you check the transmission fluid type in the owners manual and use the correct transmission fluid for your vehicle. Do not substitute anything else. For example some Chrysler transmissions need only Chrysler specific type of fluid and usual fluid like Dexron II can destroy the transmission.

Add a little amount of the fluid at a time. You will need a special funnel to get the fluid into the small tube that the dipstick came out of.

Wait for a couple of minutes for the fluid to flow down. Start the engine and check the level again before adding more fluids.


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