Author: Tim Marsh
If you want your car’s engine to not only last a long time but also run smoothly and perform at the highest possible level year after year, you should make sure that it’s properly maintained. We’ve compiled the following list of 10 tips to help you keep your engine running at optimal efficiency so you won’t have to suffer from poor performance or costly repairs down the road.
1. Change the Oil Regularly
Of all the items on this list, routinely changing your engine oil is the most important. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, so you are asking for trouble if you aren’t making sure you have enough at all times or aren’t changing it very often.
Engine oil loses its protective lubricating qualities over time, so it’s recommended that you get it changed at least once a year or every 15,000 kilometers.
2. Protect from Overheating
If you’re engine gets too hot, extensive damage can result. The best way to prevent overheating is to maintain a proper amount of radiator fluid, or coolant, in the engine. Along with oil, you should routinely check to make sure you have enough coolant. It’s best to check this level when the engine is cold. Keep in mind that if you have to put a lot of fluid in, you may have a leak somewhere.
3. Check for Leaks
This brings us to our next maintenance tip: checking for leaks. Worn hoses can begin to crack and leak, and oil and antifreeze are the two liquids you really don’t want leaking out of your engine. Look under your hood to smell and look for leaks. You should also occasionally look under your car to see if anything is leaking onto the pavement below.
4. Heed the ‘Check Engine’ Warning Light
Whether it’s a faulty gauge or an actual engine problem, the Check Engine light comes on for a reason, so you shouldn’t neglect it. Have the engine checked as soon as possible after the light is one. You should act immediately especially if the warning light relates to your engine temperature or oil.
5. Replace the Fuel Filter
‘Dirty’ fuel can pose a major problem, as harmful particles can build up in the gas and get into the engine. The fuel filter is designed to keep these harmful particles out of the engine, so it’s important to make sure to replace this filter at the proper intervals. Doing so will keep buildup out of the engine and help it burn fuel easier.
6. Avoid Running Your Fuel Tank Dry
Along the same lines, all the sediment that collects at the bottom of your Fuel tank will be pulled into the engine if you constantly run your tank to empty before filling up. Although the fuel filter is designed to catch this sediment, some of it can still find its way through into your engine. To prevent this from happening, experts recommend re-fueling when your tank is half or a quarter full.
7. Replace the Air Filter When Necessary
Like fuel, air is critical for keeping your engine running. Engines need a constant flow of air coming through at all times, just like our bodies. The air filter keeps clean air coming through by preventing dirt, bugs and other things from entering the engine. Eventually, the filter will get dirty and clog up, so it’s critical to get it replaced when it starts looking dirty.
8. Check Your Belts
The belts under your bonnet run several key components including the alternator, water pump, and fan. They typically last a long time, but they are still a ‘wear and tear’ component. Do a visual check for cracks or fraying – if you can (some modern engines are more difficult to inspect). Squealing and noise can also indicate a belt problem – any of which should be addressed immediately, as belt failure can cause major damage to the engine.
9. Cease the Stop-and-Start Driving
Your engine will run better and last longer if it runs at a continuous speed as opposed to trying to get the best 0-100 km/h time off the line and then slamming on the brakes at the next light. Try to keep your RPMs at a consistent level and the result will be increased fuel efficiency and less wear on the engine.
10. Change the Spark Plugs and Wires
It’s critical to change your spark plugs before they get too old and start causing your engine to run rough. Manufacturers typically recommend that you replace the spark plugs every 48,000 kilometers. Replacing them at the proper intervals will maintain your engines performance and fuel economy.