You certainly already had listened to the expression: The engine is the heart of the car. Although this analogy is old, its accuracy remains intact.
The engines are produced to last several years and achieve high performance. However, it is necessary to adopt good maintenance practices to preserve and extend its life.
Watch out for the signs, listen to your car and follow these tips to protect the engine.
Don’t skimp on car maintenance
Prevention is the keyword when it comes to cars and, especially, engines. If you are not observant and the problem becomes evident, it will already be too late for a quick and affordable repair.
Therefore, do not undervalue the importance of periodic reviews. Perform preventive maintenance every 10,000 kilometres or annually and check the condition of every part and component.
Change the engine oil
Replacing the oil is part of the car’s basic maintenance and is essential for engine longevity. The lubrification of the parts avoids wear and allows the proper function of the auto part.
Thus check the level and quality of the oil regularly and change it every 5,000 or 7,000 kilometres, according to the manufacturer’s indications. If you drive mainly on mountain roads, i.e., steep rises and falls, you should change the oil earlier than indicated by the brand of the car.
When replacing, consider the type of oil. Synthetic lubricants, although more expensive, last longer and don’t need additives. On the other hand, mineral oils are more affordable and the most suitable for older cars.
So, beware to never surpass the expiration date of the oil and be careful to avoid mixing mineral oils with synthetics to protect the engine.
Replace the air filter
The air filter is the engine’s lungs. If it has dirt, the fuel consumption increases, and the power decreases.
Therefore, follow the car brand instructions and change the air filter after Summer, before the weather gets wetter.
Substitute the oil and fuel filters
Besides the air filter, you should also change the oil and fuel filters at the mileage or year specified by the manufacturer.
Over time, these parts deteriorate and accumulate debris that impairs their function and ultimately damages the engine.
Avoid driving at low rotations
Who has never heard that driving at low revs saves fuel? This myth is not only wrong, but it’s also a practice that damages your car’s engine.
But, first, we must specify this concept. So, as a rule, it’s considered driving at low revs when the engine rotation is between 1,000 and 2,000 RPM.
When this happens, the engine is severely strained. The vehicle starts creating unnecessary internal efforts to keep moving, damaging the engine and the particle filter.
So, it’s recommended to drive between 1,500 and 3,000 RPM in a diesel car and between 2,000 and 3,500 RPM in a gasoline vehicle. This way, you save fuel, avoid unnecessary strain and protect the engine.
Check the cooling system
The cooling system is formed by the radiator, thermostat, water pump and coolant, and it’s responsible for protecting the engine from overheating. Therefore you should check the oil level and the volume of coolant regularly.
If it’s below the recommended, replace the liquid in the radiator. But don’t use tap water since it damages the internal components of the cooling system. Instead, use a solution with distilled water and additives indicated by the car manufacturer.
Be careful when checking the coolant level, and avoid opening the water tank cap when the car is hot. Besides risking burning yourself, when you open the lid, air will enter the system, which can cause the engine to overheat.
Use premium fuels
Although the premium options share the same composition as the regular ones, these protect and clean the engine’s fuel system. The additives prevent the accumulation of dirt in the components, guaranteeing the car’s performance and consumption.
However, this advantage is only visible if you constantly use the premium options. This may be a practice that is becoming less common due to the current rise in fuel prices. At the time of publishing this article, premium fuels cost around €2/litre.
Avoid cold starts
Warming the car before starting driving is a myth that divides drivers.
Although it is not necessary to idle for a long time, it is not advisable to start the engine immediately at high speed. Therefore, you should drive slowly and at lower revs to ensure that all engine components are warmed up and lubricated.
Read also: 10 Myths about cars: Part 1
Practice balanced driving
Preventive driving doesn’t only apply to prevent accidents. These practices help to protect the engine of your car. Try driving as smoothly as possible, avoiding excessive speeds and large accelerations and decelerations.
This tip is even more important for cars with 0 km. During the first few kilometres, these vehicles go through a running-in phase in which new parts should not be subjected to excessive strain. You should find more information about this stage in the vehicle handbook.
Also, watch out for leaks and the timing for replacing the timing belt. If you notice any wheezing, heating or engine light coming on in the instrument panel, you should consult a mechanic quickly.