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Engine - Tips on check-up, common defects and replacement
The engine: powering your vehicle
Engines play an instrumental role in vehicle performance. Size and layout are crucial for the amount of power the engine can supply. Whether you chose for a petrol or diesel engine is of no importance. Many mechanisms are similar in both versions. We show you what sort of damage can occur in engines and how to recognise it. Also we offer important and helpful tips for engine maintenance for you to enjoy your engine considerably longer.
The engine: heart of the car
Modern engines are real miracles of technology, linked to several elements. Engine control is continually being improved and sensors now discover errors in an early stage. In an engine with all its mechanical and electric components, damage and defects are likely, particularly in modern engines. Downsizing and the use of turbochargers potentially shorten an engine's life. Specific damage and errors statistically occur more often than others.
Regular defects and damages
Certain engine damage is typical and occurs regularly regardless of car manufacturer, such as:
- fuel in the cylinders due to a defective injector pump
- overheating damage as a result of a malfunctioning control unit
- defective cylinder head gaskets
- broken glow or spark plug
- leaking cylinder head gasket causing loss of oil
- interrupted valve control.
Some damage is beyond repair. In that case the only option is complete engine replacement. Whether this is economically feasible depends largely on the car and its age.
The engine check light: what does it mean when it is on?
Dashboard lights switching on are never a good sign. Two different modes should be discerned: the check engine light burning steadily or flashing. Both modes mean something different. The engine check light burning steadily indicates an error stored in the control unit's memory. This could indicate an excessive temperature value of the lambda sensor or a warning from the soot particle filter. Generally, it is possible to continue driving and have the damage or error removed or repaired later. A regular blinking of the check engine light is an actual warning sign. The car should no longer be driven and parked as soon as possible in order to have it repaired. Ignoring this warning can cause permanent serious damage to the engine.
How to maintain your engine adequately and safely
In addition to minor repairs and replacement solutions, it is particularly important to treat the engine in a sparing manner. This is likely to extend the engine's life span considerably. For a longer engine life, observe the following practices:
- refrain from accelerating excessively when the engine is cold.
- when breaking it in, go easy on the car for the first 30 – 50 kms
- avoid frequent driving at high RPM
- be aware of engine noises and react timely
- When suspecting damage, have the car checked immediately. Most damage only becomes worse and more expensive when it is ignored for too long.
The oil change: essential for a longer life
A regular oil change is important for the engine. This is the only way to avoid the oil becoming saturated with dirt, impairing its performance. The interval for oil change varies according to manufacturer, but generally lies between 10.000 and 30.00 kms. If this mileage is not reached, oil change should be performed once a year.
The timing belt
Both petrol and diesel engines are equipped with a timing belt. It has a limited life span due to its layout. Here too, change intervals vary and lie between 60.000 and 120.000 kms. Timing belt and water pump are connected in most cars. Therefore those components are preferably replaced simultaneously.