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Safeguard Your Vehicle Investment by
Checking your Engine Condition on a Regular
CONDITION | OIL PRESSURE | OIL LEVEL |
TRANSMISSION FLUID | ENGINE FLUSH
most of engine breakages happen as the result of the owner's mistakes. If
your car has run well for many years, you might find yourself skipping a
fluid check or putting longer periods of time between the engine
servicings. Today, with self-service gas stations everywhere, often the
only way you will insure your car's fluids are at proper levels is to do
it yourself. If you don't, you may miss a minor defect, for example, a coolant
A few weeks
later, lack of the coolant causes your engine to overheat and eventually
you are faced with engine damage. And then even after that repair, other
small problems surface and you find that your car breaks down more
often. It's important for you to safeguard your vehicle investment by
checking your engine condition on a regular basis.
What's Needed to Keep the Engine in Good
Actually, only few basic
conditions are needed for long engine life:
Good engine lubrication
- Perform timely oil and oil filter
changes and use only high quality oil and oil filters
- Check your garage
floor or parking space for visible signs of fluid leakage
Prevent the engine from overheating
check the cooling system, the coolant level, and radiator
Perform engine maintenance and
tune up according to the owners' manual schedule
- Provide necessary cleanings and adjustments
(drive belt tension, valve cleaning, etc)
- Provide necessary
replacements (timing belts, air filters, spark plugs, etc)
Immediately eliminate any minor engine
by Checking the Engine Condition.
Routinely listen for noises when your
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. After it's warmed up, try to press accelerator harshly for a
second. The engine should accelerate quickly, without delays or
hesitation. There should
be no loud noises while accelerating. The idle should be
stable during a stop. There should be no smoke coming out
from the tail pipe (only steam during warming up or in cold weather is
Look at the instrument panel. All the
warning lights on the instrument panel for low oil pressure, check engine,
overheating, etc should go off after the engine is started and should not come on
while the engine is running.
Open the hood and look at the engine. A good engine should be dry. It
may be dusty, but it should not be oily, and it should not have any leaks. Check the engine thoroughly for oil
leaks. The more leaks, the more damage your engine may have.
cleaning and maintenance.
When performing routine engine maintenance and
tune ups, cleanings, adjustments, and necessary replacements, check for
Fuel Filter: A dirty fuel filter may cause unexpected engine stalling and loss of
Air Filter: A dirty air
filter dirty air filter causes loss of engine power, increased fuel consumption,
Plugs: replacement can give significant enhancement of
Timing Belt: Timing Belt
damage can cause serious engine damage, especially if it's a diesel
Engine Coolant: Old coolant lose its anticorrosive and other
Check the Oil Pressure.
Low oil pressure in your car's engine can become a major
repair nightmare. All engines lose a certain amount of oil pressure over time
as normal wear increases bearing clearances. But unusually low oil pressure in
an engine is a clear indication that your car requires immediate repair.
Always check the oil pressure on a cold engine (at least an hour after the
engine has been turned off). 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, you can be sure that the engine is has some defect. 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.
Checking your engine
oil level is the most important check you can do.
Driving with the oil level too low can damage the engine. An engine cannot run
without oil, even for a minute, without serious engine damage.
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,
Check the engine
oil on the dipstick periodically, especially if your car isn't brand new.
Driving even 20 - 30 miles with extremely low oil level may result in
expensive engine repair. It is
also important to change to oil every 3,000 miles. And every time you change the
oil, change the oil filter too. Immediately
after performing an oil and filter change, check for oil leaks to be sure
that the oil filter has been
When checking the oil, wait until the
engine has been off at least 15 minutes so that the oil has drained to the
oil pan. This will guarantee and accurate reading. Checking the oil
immediately after driving may give a false low reading because much of the
oil is still in its components.
If you not sure how to
check your oil, here is a step-by-step
your car in a level place. Make sure that the engine has been off for at
least 15 minutes to allow the the engine oil to drain back into the
crankcase oil pan. Open the hood, find the engine oil dipstick and remove
it. Dry it with a clean rag or paper towel and notice the markings on it.
you will see a mark for "FULL" and another mark for
"ADD" or "LOW". Push the stick back into the tube and
immediately pull it out to see the oil level. Normally it should be at
"FULL" mark. You should not add oil unless the level is below
the "ADD" or "LOW" mark and NEVER add oil to bring the
level above the "FULL" mark since too much oil may damage the
spark plugs. By checking your oil on a regular basis , you will become
familiar with the rate of oil consumption by your
car and you'll know when the consumption is rapidly increasing.
||The oil condition
is very important and the color signifies potential problems. The oil
should appear clean and translucent. If the oil is slightly-brown, it's
O.K. If it's dark-brown, but still transparent, it's
admissible but 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 white (or the
color of coffee- with- milk) or foamy, it it means the
engine coolant mixes with the engine oil, which is evidence of
an internal engine defect (such as a blown head gasket or cracked block). Such defect is common for some V6 and
V8 engines. Also, the oil should never have a
the Engine Oil Level and Adjust the Viscosity Grade.
you are adding a small amount of oil, it would be better to add the same type of the engine oil as you already have in
the engine. For example, if you have Pennzoil SAE
10W - 30 in your engine, add the
same. Wait for a couple of minutes
to let the oil flow down. Check the oil level
again with the dipstick. If it's still low, add
some more. But don't overfill it. Don't forget
to return dipstick back into the tube and close the oil
filler cap when you finished.
If you are doing a complete oil change, you
should consider adjusting the viscosity grade. This is not a difficult
task to figure out. Keep in mind that engine oils are solid with with
different levels of viscosity, and many of them are multi-viscous, which
means the oil's thickness can change depending upon the temperature.
Generally speaking, the warmer the oil is, the thinner it will be. If the
oil is too thin, the engine might not get the proper lubrication. In the
summertime you should change the engine oil to one that is a little
thicker. Even when the thicker oil is cold, it is still not too thick for
proper engine lubrication. Consult your vehicle owner's manual for the
manufacturer's oil recommendations for different climates. Multi-viscous
grades can be found in 5w-30, 10w-30, and 10w-40 oil grades.
you Use Engine Flush?
Engine flush is special
solution that helps to remove
deposits and coating from internal engine parts right before an oil
change. It's useful if your engine is slightly dirty inside. But, if there
is too much carbon buildup (indicated by the arrow in the photo) inside
the engine, flushing may have bad effect, because
washed off carbon particles may clog the oil screen in the crankcase oil
pan, which may cause a lack of oil pressure.
So, how do you decide if you should use an engine flush solution? If you notice, that the engine oil becomes too dirty
(dark - brown color)
even in few days since you've changed it, it means your engine is too
polluted inside, like the one in the image. In such case you'd better
avoid engine washing off. But if you notice, that even after 2000 - 3000
since last oil change the engine oil remains translucent or slightly
brown, it means your engine is clean inside. So, you may apply the
engine flush facilities successfully.
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. Also, be sure that electric
fan operates, and water pump drive belt has proper tension. Also check the
water pump; it 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 as in the picture. If it's lower, you
should add it, because a low coolant level may cause the engine to
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 and into the radiator if necessary.
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.
The ideal mixture of coolant and water
inside inside your vehicle's radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates
from this, then hot-weather (and cold weather) performance can be
compromised. you can check the composition of a radiator's mixture by
using an antifreeze tester. You can find this item in any auto parts
store. They are inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture's balance is
off, adjust it by adding coolant or water.
Take note of the coolant's color. It should
be clean and transparent, it also may be of green, red, blue or yellow
color (depending on the maker). If it's 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
the Automatic Transmission
Automatic transmission is a very complicated device and it's
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
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, as in the image. 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. The transmission fluid usually
comes in quarts, you may not need to add a full quart so add a little
amount of the fluid at a time. Also, 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.