Here Are Four Simple Maintenance Checks to Keep Your Vehicle’s Engine Healthy

There are few things worse than having your car break down, especially if you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can avoid this awful situation if you regularly perform these simple maintenance checks.
BMW engine 7 photos
Photo: Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Serpentine BeltEngineBMW M EnginePouring CoolantOil DipstickWorn Air Filter
Until electric vehicles completely take over, we’re stuck with conventional ICE-powered vehicles, which, because of the complexity of their powertrains, require regular maintenance to run properly.

Spending no more than half an hour at least twice a month inspecting your vehicle could save you money and time in the long run.

Check the oil level

Grossly overlooked by the majority of car owners, this simple check only takes a couple of minutes. Make sure the car is on level ground, and the engine is warm but not running. Pop the hood and pull out the dipstick, which is usually located somewhere near the oil cap.

Oil Dipstick
Photo: Frettie on Wikimedia Commons
Wipe it clean, push it back in and wait for a second or two. Pull it out again and check the oil level, which should be between the two "MIN" and "MAX" marks.

If it’s close to the minimum, top off with fresh oil but don’t just grab any type; you must use the exact same viscosity as that which is already inside the engine. If you aren’t sure, check the owner’s manual, give your mechanic a call or schedule a complete oil change.

Check the coolant level

If the engine overheats, expect some very expensive repairs, so along with the oil, the coolant is one of the most important fluids your car’s powerplant uses.

Make sure the engine is cold when you perform this check because if it’s running or warm, some of the coolant is running through the system, and it might mislead you.

Pouring Coolant
Photo: IamTimEre from Pixabay
The coolant reservoir is fitted in the engine bay and is usually graded. The level should be between "MIN" and "MAX", and if it’s too low, top it off as soon as you can. Don’t just pour in coolant and mix it with distilled water. A 1:1 ratio is ideal, but if you live in areas where temperatures drop well below zero, you might want to add 60% or 70% coolant and 40% or 30% distilled water, respectively.

If you do this and the level drops in a matter of days or sooner, there’s definitely a leak somewhere, so take it to your local mechanic for a thorough check.

Check the air filter

Just like you, the engine needs clean air to function properly, and all cars have at least one filter to make sure that debris doesn’t reach its internals.

Worn Air Filter
Photo: Donar Reiskoffer on Wikimedia Commons
Accessing this filter might be harder on some vehicles, but a quick search online will reveal how to do it with ease. In modern vehicles, it’s usually fitted inside a rectangular casing called a cold air collector box that can be opened by removing some clips or screws.

Once you do this, take out the filter and inspect it. If it looks too dirty, have it replaced. Your car will thank you for performing better.

Check the serpentine belt or belts

All vehicles have one, some have a couple. These rubber belts are used to drive multiple peripheral devices, including the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, or air conditioning compressor.

When they’re about to give out, you will hear squealing sounds from the engine bay when you drive, but it’s always a good idea to check them even if they’re not squealing.

Check them visually for cracks or splits, and don’t be afraid to pinch, squeeze and twist them. If you see signs of wear, have them replaced immediately. They are usually very cheap, and having them replaced at the right time can save you thousands of dollars in additional repairs.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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