CAR AND TRUCK ENGINE MAINTENANCE FOR THE VEHICLE OWNER

By following the engine maintenance advice below, you should be able to keep your car, truck or other engine running a long time without major problems.

The engine is one of its most complex parts of your car or truck. It can also be the most expensive to repair if something goes wrong. Because of this it is a good idea to treat it gently and take care of it properly. A little bit of care goes a long way towards keeping the engine running for a long time. Years ago, a car engine was pretty well worn out at less than 100,000 miles. Now days it is very common for a well maintained engine to last 200,000 miles or more. If you would like your engine to last that long, read on and I will give you some of the engine maintenance information you need to make it so.

ENGINE OIL

Oil is your engine’s life blood. Not only does it lubricate the moving parts, but it also helps to cool them and keep them clean. Make sure that you know how to check the oil level and do it regularly. The procedure should be in your owner’s manual. All engines will use a little oil in normal operation and will need to have some added occasionally. Start by checking the oil along with the other fluids once every two weeks or so. Once you get to know your engine, you can lengthen the time between checking.

The one absolutely most important engine maintenance you can do is to make sure your engine’s lubricating oil and filter are changed at the correct times. There are many parts on the outside of an engine that can be left to wear out without causing major damage BUT if the oil and filter are not changed regularly, the parts inside of the engine will wear out or get gummed up and dirty. The only way to fix this is to rebuild or replace the engine. VERY EXPENSIVE !!

So, look in your owner’s manual and find your car maintenance schedule. See how often your car’s manufacturer thinks you should change the oil and filter. Do this engine maintenance religiously !! Oil and filter changes are very cheap insurance.

Also, there are differences in the quality of oils and filters. I personally recommend that you use a synthetic motor oil and a filter from your car’s manufacturer. This would include brands such as AC Delco for General Motors cars and trucks, Mopar for Chrysler products, Toyota filters for your Toyota etc etc. They are a little more expensive but you will be assured that they will protect your engine properly.

Quite a few of the newer cars require a very specific oil to be used. This is particularly true for European models but is becoming very common for others as well, such as the new GM DEXOS oil standard. Some repair shops use the same oil for all vehicles. This is definitely not a good idea and can result in premature failures. The correct type of oil to use will be listed in your owners manual. Make absolutely certain that your service provider is using the correct engine oil and a quality filter.

How about Motor Oil Additives ??? Do you need them ? Waste of money ?

INFORMATION ON MOTOR OIL ADDITIVES

ENGINE COOLANT

Even though engine coolants, generally know as “Antifreeze”, have improved significantly and will last much longer than they used to, they still need to be checked and replaced to properly protect the inside of your engine. If the coolant is not replaced on a regular basis, it can allow corrosion to form in the engine and the rest of the cooling system. Once again, the engine maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual will tell you when you should have the coolant replaced, but it is a good idea to have your shop check it any time your car is there for service. Also, just like engine oil, there are now many different types of coolant and you have to make sure that you use the correct one for your vehicle. The proper coolant will also be listed in your owners manual. There is no “one size fits all” coolant.

TIMING BELT

Most modern vehicles have a rubber belt inside the front of the engine that turns various parts of the engine as it runs. This belt is not the same as the “fan belt”. If the timing belt wears out or breaks, it will almost certainly cause serious engine damage, resulting in a huge repair bill. So . . . . . look in our old standby, the owner’s manual, and see what it says about changing the timing belt. If the engine maintenance schedule says to change it at 60,000 miles . . . DO IT !!!! Matter of fact, I would say do it a little early. Timing belt replacement is not the cheapest thing, but compared to the damage done if it breaks well …….. I am sure you understand what I am getting at.

TREAT IT GENTLY

How would you feel if you had to get out of bed on a 20 degree day, go straight outside and run two miles without your morning shower and a cup of coffee ???

Well that is what a lot of us ask of our cars engines. We jump in the car, turn the key and put it in drive before the the engine has been running for 10 seconds. Although modern engines are a lot more durable than those of old, it is still a good idea to let them run a minute or two before driving off. This is especially true if you have to only go a very short distance and jump right on the freeway at 70 mph. If you have a mile or two of driving slowly through your neighborhood, that will serve the purpose of warming the engine and the transmission up so they can operate properly.

By the way, most car makers do NOT recommend warming the car up for a long time in the morning. Not only does this waste fuel but it is really not needed. A few minutes idling while you put on your seat belt and get settled is all you need.

One the other end of the trip, if you have been driving very hard for a long distance, I feel that it is a good idea to let the engine idle for a minute or two before turning it off. This allows the temperature to stabilize and is less stressful. This is especially helpful if your engine has a turbocharger. The turbocharger runs at very high speeds and high temperatures and the only cooling it gets is from engine oil. Letting the engine idle for a minute or so after a hard run will help cool the turbocharger down.

OTHER TIPS

Try to get familiar with your engine and the noises it makes during normal operation. If you notice anything different, have it checked as soon as possible. If your car has gauges in the dashboard, get into the habit of looking at them fairly often. Get used to the position that they are normally in while driving and if you notice any significant change, get it looked at as soon as possible.

There are several warning lights on your dashboard. The “check engine” light usually indicates a fairly serious problem that needs to be addressed right away. If the check engine light comes on, it is best to stop driving as soon as it is safe to do so and if possible have the car towed to a repair shop. The longer you run the engine with this light on, the more likely it is that you will have serious (Expensive) damage.

The “service engine soon” light is generally not as critical as the “check engine” light, but it can also indicate a serious problem so it is best to have it looked at as soon as possible.

As usual, you should read your owners manual to determine what these lights (and others) indicate on your particular vehicle.

These are some of the things that you can do to insure that your car’s engine will live a long and happy life. Ask your repair shop if they have any other suggestions. Investing in Engine Maintenance is one of the best things you can do if you want to drive your car or truck for a long time.

If you have any questions feel free to use my contact form to ask them. I simply cannot answer all questions but I will try my best to help you if possible.

Happy Motoring !!

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