The engine is the heart of your vehicle. And, just like your own heart, if you aren’t taking proper care of it, things can go wrong.
Here are 10 things that are bad for your engine:
- Not Enough Oil
Oil not only keeps your engine lubricated and running smoothly, but it also provides cooling, cleaning and other such jobs. When oil is low and whatever limited oil is in the engine is pushed around, it becomes hotter and hotter because the oil isn’t allowed enough time to cool down a little before it makes its way back into the engine. Because of this, the oil wears out even faster leading to more oxidation, thermal degradation, and compressive heating at a faster rate. This breakdown of the oil results in: tar, sludge, soot, etc. These start to coat parts of your engine like the bearings, cylinder walls, and rings. This coating is often referred to as carbon build up and causes a lot of friction on engine parts. If you allow this to continue, the parts will begin to wear and you could eventually find yourself needing a whole new engine rather than just a simple oil change.
When your vehicle is running on little to no oil the engine oil light should come on. If this is the case, you should not be driving your vehicle until you correct the problem to avoid costly damage or even complete engine failure. Keep your engine healthy by always completing oil changes on time according to your vehicles owner’s manual.
- Too Much Oil
Engines are made to operate on a specific amount of oil. Your oil pan has baffles that are designed around the normal oil level. When you put too much oil in your engine, you run the risk of the oil “frothing” because of the connecting rods and crankshaft pushing air into it. The air bubbles that get into the oil interfere with the oil’s ability to keep metal parts from rubbing together- not good. Also, over filling can result in “splashing” causing parts of the engine to become coated in burnt oil and minimizing that parts effectiveness. Stick to your vehicles recommended amount of oil to avoid costly damage.
- Using the Wrong Oil
When you use the wrong oil in your engine, it can lead to reduced lubrication and a shorter engine life. You should always use the oil specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. The brand itself doesn’t matter, but the viscosity grade (10W-30, for example) does. Also, if your owner’s manual says that you should be using synthetic oil, then you should do so.
- Dirty Air Filter
The air filter is exactly what it sounds like. It filters the air of dirt and debris before it mixes with the fuel and burns in the engines cylinders. Dirty or worn air filters allow dirt and debris to enter your engine which can cause premature wear to things like the carburetor, cylinders, and pistons. Dirty air filters reduce the performance level of vehicles and may cause an engine to overheat.
When an engine overheats, many of its parts will expand, and they can warp, bend, and even break if you continue to drive in this condition. Prolonged overheating can fully destroy the engine, rendering it unfixable and useless. As soon as you notice your vehicle’s thermostat needle indicating a high engine temperature you need to take steps to cool the engine. Here are some steps to take provided by reference.com:
- Turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to reduce the load on the engine.
- Turn on the heater and blower to transfer heat from the engine to the passenger compartment.
- If stuck in traffic, rev the engine slightly to increase air and coolant flow through the radiator.
If you see steam coming from the hood you need to pull over immediately. Do not continue to drive your car in this condition.
- Revving the Engine
Revving puts unnecessary stress on the engine. It is worse on an engine when it has first been started and is cold with all of the oil still down in the oil pan. The metal parts of the engine haven’t been lubricated yet and revving can cause the parts to wear. Revving repeatedly will eventually damage the engine, potentially costing thousands of dollars in repairs.
- Driving Before the Engine Warms
Oil doesn’t lubricate the engine well when it is still cold, and the parts of an engine are made to operate in a certain temperature range. After you start your car, wait a minute or two before driving off to allow your engine to have some time to warm. If you start and immediately drive away, you put unnecessary stress on the engine.
- Using Only Water in the Radiator
The heat of summer, can cause untreated water to reach its boiling point quickly, causing the engine to overheat. And, in the winter, if the untreated water freezes, it can expand and crack your engine block. It is safest for your vehicle to use a 50/50 mix of coolant and water.
- Driving Through Water
If you drive through large, deep, puddles of water, you run the risk of some water being sucked into your engine’s cylinders. Cylinders contain air and fuel droplets that compress so when the pistons squeeze, the pressure goes up. Water does not compress, so when the piston tries to squeeze it, it cannot do so. If this happens parts that are connected to the piston can break or bend, resulting in expensive repairs.
- Ignoring the Check Engine Light
It is often mistakenly believed that the Check Engine light isn’t serious and can be ignored. Though it doesn’t always signal immediate danger, it does indicate that there is something wrong with the engine. It could start out as something minor, but left unchecked can turn into something major and costly.
Having regular maintenance done on your vehicle -following the schedule recommended in your owner’s manual- is the best thing you can do to keep your engine performing efficiently and smoothly. If you are due for regular maintenance or have any concerns with your vehicle, call Virginia Auto Service, (602) 266-0200. We are happy to help.