When you drive your car, you probably don’t think too much about the engine. After all, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. The problem with this is that you’re only going to notice your engine once it starts making odd sounds, emitting smoke and foul odours, or leaking fluids. Then, you’re going to be saddled with a costlier repair bill than if you paid attention in the first place.
Simply put, you need to be more proactive about taking care of your car’s engine. This way, it will last longer and your car will run like new every time you take it out for a spin. You’ll also save yourself some money maintenance-wise.
That said, here are some simple tips to keep your car’s engine in good shape for as long as possible:
Change the Oil on Schedule
If you can only do one engine maintenance procedure forever, then let it be changing the oil regularly. This is probably the most important thing you can do to keep your car’s engine in good shape—it literally can’t function without oil! What’s more, if you don’t change the oil on time, it can cause your engine a lot of damage.
Regarding the schedule, different car manufacturers have different recommendations. Some older models might need more frequent changes, while newer ones can run for longer in between. However, the average interval is about every 8,000 to 9,000 kilometres for frequent drivers. Check your car owner’s manual for the ideal schedule.
Replace the Spark Plugs
The spark plugs are what ignites the air/fuel mixture, kickstarting your engine so that it can produce power to run your vehicle. If you don’t have high-quality spark plugs or if they’re in bad shape, you can experience issues such as slow acceleration, power loss, and poor fuel economy, among many others.
Luckily, since spark plugs are common car parts, you can easily find them through a trusted auto parts supplier (just like this site). If your budget allows and if your car is compatible, get iridium or platinum spark plugs. These last so much longer than copper ones.
When you change the spark plugs, make sure to change the wires as well. This will ensure a good flow of electrical energy, producing more consistent sparks.
Keep the Engine Cool
Overheating is a common engine problem, which can easily be prevented by maintaining the right amount of coolant. Also called the radiator fluid, the coolant circulates through your engine to keep it at the right temperatures. This will keep the engine’s metal parts from rusting, and the plastic parts from melting or corroding.
Your car’s dashboard has an indicator for the engine temperature, so you can monitor it easily. However, to check the level of coolant remaining, you need to check under the hood. The coolant tank is clear or translucent, filled with either an orange or green liquid. Top up the fluid so it’s above the minimum mark but below maximum.
Make it a habit to check the coolant tank regularly, especially before you go on a long drive and during the summer season.
Fill Up the Fuel Tank
A lot of fuels contain a certain amount of additives to increase their octane rating, improve lubrication, and/or prevent corrosion. The problem is that as the fuel burns, these additives leave behind sediments that settle in the bottom of the tank.
The fuel filter prevents these debris from getting into the engine. However, if you drive often enough with the tank almost empty, your vehicle will pull fuel along with the sediments from the bottom. Eventually, some of that junk will escape, get into the engine, and cause internal damage.
Thus, it’s highly recommended to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. If you can’t, then just make sure that you don’t drive with an almost-empty tank. While you’re at it, replace the fuel filter every two years or every 50,000 kilometres, depending on how often you drive.
Check on the Belts
The belts get the same kind of abuse as the engine because they run at the same time. You don’t have to worry about them too much, since they’re built to last for years. Nevertheless, you should get in the habit of performing regular inspections to see if the belts are cracked or starting to get brittle. If they are, replace them ASAP.
You should also pay attention to squeaking noises while you’re running the engine, since these sounds can also indicate worn belts as well. Worn belts can break mid-drive, causing plenty of damage to your engine.
Don’t Ignore the Warning Lights
Last but certainly not least, keeping your engine healthy means paying attention to the Check Engine light on the dash. If it or any of the other warning lights come on, don’t hesitate to have your car checked. It may turn out to be something minor, but it’s good to be sure nonetheless. Besides, a small problem can turn into something big if you let it go on for long enough.
Taking care of your car’s engine will make sure that it will run smoothly for years to come. Keep these tips in mind so you’ll have an easier time with maintenance.