Car Maintenance: How To Keep Your Vehicle In Good Running Condition, Lifestyle News
The engine is like a human brain. If it is not in good working condition, the car will not run properly.
Cars are somewhat fragile, and sometimes part failure can lead to a complete engine rebuild – a costly and Herculean task.
Frankly, keeping your engine running smoothly can be a chore. Trips to the workshop can be a necessary scourge, and tinkering with your engine can be an expensive endeavor. Conversely, some parts are easier to check and replacements can be done in minutes.
If you care about long-term car maintenance, follow these tips to keep your vehicle in peak condition.
Check spark plugs and wires
Spark plugs are devices that produce a spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture when an electric current passes through it.
Like any other part of the engine, the constant use of spark plugs will wear it down. Older spark plugs tend to make the engine jittery, which can lead to engine malfunctions or complete failure.
Most of the time, the spark plugs and wires need to be changed every few service intervals, approximately 50,000 km. However, depending on the age or type of your car, it may be shorter or longer. Those with an engine start / stop function, for example, could wear out the spark plugs faster.
Using better plugs with wires will help ensure optimal electrical current through which your motor would run smoothly. In addition, it can improve your energy efficiency.
Typically, you can find your spark plugs under the hood of your engine and are placed in a row connected to wires. If you are unsure of its location, your manufacturer’s manual should contain information on this.
Take it easy when accelerating and braking
Yes, we know your Stinger GT can accelerate from 0-100 km / h in just 4.9 seconds, but is it really helping your engine?
The answer is no. In fact, sharp acceleration not only burns more fuel than usual, but also causes immense wear and tear on the engine, especially metal components.
The anti-lock braking system (ABS) function, if your car is equipped with it, can also be triggered unnecessarily during hard braking, putting additional stress on the system.
It could negatively affect your car engine. And if the ABS doesn’t activate at the right time, it could put the driver at risk.
Do not completely empty your fuel tank
With the widespread rise in fuel prices, you might be tempted to use every drop of fuel to make the most of the money you have spent. Surely that’s a reasonable decision, right?
In fact, it could damage your engine in more than one way. The first is that your fuel pump works best if it is submerged in fuel.
If you constantly let your gas pump dry out, it will suck in air rather than fuel, causing wear and tear. In this case, you may need to replace it prematurely. Plus, it can cause the engine to stall when your air-fuel mixture is out of balance.
The second is that there would always be sediment that would settle to the bottom of the tank due to repeated refueling. Normally this is not a problem unless your fuel pump is desperately trying to supply fuel to your engine.
When this happens, sediment can be introduced into the engine, causing damage over time.
Inspect your engine oil
You might think that engine oil is just something you check or change during maintenance. But sometimes the driving conditions change so that you may have used more oil than necessary.
Oil is used to lubricate many components, but it is especially important for the engine. Engines would supply oil to their moving parts to lubricate it, thus preventing wear.
Not monitoring your oil levels or the condition of your oil can cause two things.
- Either your oil will run out, which can cause vibration, knocking, or exhaust smoke.
Or contaminants will build up in the oil, creating sludge and causing further wear to the engine.
The results are also not good, as both can cause serious damage to your engine or, again, cause engine failure.
Checking your engine oil is a straightforward process as all you need is the dipstick provided in your car and a clean wipe. The oil change is usually done during maintenance, but you can choose to do it yourself.
Keep your engine compartment clean
In order for an engine to perform optimally, it is safe to say that it must also be clean. Over time, engine parts not only wear out, but they also accumulate dust, sand and many other foreign particles.
Most of the time, these will build up and start to clog the filters. Once it fits in with some vital internals, your engine can misfire. Insects and other creepy critters could also make the engine their home.
For the more easily accessible places, if you feel like cleaning it yourself, we recommend that you use a degreasing solution and rinse it with a water jet. As for the filters, you can always try to clean them.
However during maintenance, or if you find it too dirty, you can completely replace the air filter. The location of the filters would be listed in your owner’s manual.
For the hardest to reach places, you will need to consult a professional workshop to take out the engine and do a deep cleaning of the interior.
Check the cooling system
Besides oil and gasoline, coolant is another vital part of cars. While oil lubricates a car and fuel keeps the car running, coolant will keep the engine from overheating.
Engines generate a lot of heat, especially when used frequently. Optimal coolant levels would help the cooling system to run more efficiently.
However, when the coolant drops below recommended levels due to a leak, for example, the engine is unable to cool and therefore overheats. This can cause serious problems and even melt some parts.
Checking the coolant levels is easy enough, just consult your owner’s manual. However, you can also opt for a cooling system flush during maintenance, during which your coolant is replaced and refilled.
Inspect timing belts
One of the most overlooked parts of a car would be the timing belts. Not all cars have it, some cars use a timing chain instead. But if so, this is one of the most important parts of the engine.
The timing belt regulates whether the valves actuated by the engine camshaft open and close together with the pistons. The timing chain is a different type of system but does the same job as a timing belt.
Timing chains should not be replaced as often as timing belts. However, if both are old or damaged, they could break. When this happens, the engine will experience catastrophic failure. At this point, you envision a large repair bill to replace the entire motor.
Replacing the timing belt yourself can be a good way to save money. However, you do need experience working with motors as it is not an easy process.
Prevention is better than cure
Even if you are not interested in maintenance, keeping your engine in good condition will do wonders. Not only will you avoid additional repair costs, but you will also be able to enjoy your car in a cleaner condition for longer.
Also, if you are planning to sell your car, it will likely be priced higher if you have maintained it well.
READ MORE: A Beginner’s Guide: How To Modify Your Car To Make It (Legally) Faster
This article first appeared in Motorist.