Modern cars are loaded with technology, and there’s no end to what’s available. For example, state-of-the-art sensors facilitate active safety features that can help make you a more attentive driver, and onboard computers deliver infotainment technology that includes everything from satellite radio to mobile Wi-Fi hot spots.
Still, the one thing that always has been and still is at the heart of your car’s performance is its engine. Though all the secondary bells and whistles are nice, a car’s primary function is to get us from one place to the next, and this isn’t possible without a functioning engine.
If you own a used car, engine reliability is probably a significant concern. Here are five easy steps you can take to improve the dependability of your used car’s engine and lengthen its life span.
1. Adhere to Your Car’s Service Schedule
Nobody likes spending time at an auto repair shop, and if you have a busy schedule, the time spent on getting the recommended maintenance service performed on your car can seem pretty burdensome.
However, it’s important to recognize that regular service visits are an investment in your car’s future. Engines are designed to last, but they need the support of regular maintenance to live up to this promise. Follow the guidelines laid out in your car’s owner’s manual for things like oil changes and air filter replacement. And don’t forget about having a professional periodically inspect the coolant, radiator hoses, battery, spark plugs, spark-plug wires and timing belt.
In addition to extending the life of your car’s engine, regular maintenance may also help boost your vehicle’s resale value. Buyers can access vehicle history reports via CARFAX that provide insight as to whether a used car for sale has been regularly maintained. Vehicles that have been diligently serviced are likely to get the best prices on the used market.
2. Fix Minor Engine Problems Promptly
Small engine problems can quickly become big ones if they aren’t addressed in a timely way. Staying on top of this requires you to pay attention to your car’s engine. Keep a close eye on its performance. If your vehicle’s engine makes unusual sounds or is slow to turn over, take the car in so the engine can be evaluated by a mechanic.
If you neglect these problems and they lead to more serious engine difficulties, the repair bill can be astronomical. Do your budget a favor by quickly tending to minor engine problems as they develop.
3. Clean Your Car’s Engine Once a Year
Many of us pay a great deal of attention to keeping the cabins and exteriors of our vehicles looking spic and span, but that important piece of equipment under the hood rarely benefits from the same care.
Dirt and grime can cause an engine to run hot, and the extra wear that this produces can reduce the engine’s life span. Also, if the engine is clean, it makes it much easier to identify problems such as leaks. The easiest way to keep your used car’s engine free of grime is to have it professionally steam cleaned. Ideally, this should be done annually.
4. Allow Enough Time for the Engine to Warm Up in Cold Weather
Cold weather is hard on your car’s engine. Your car’s battery carries a lower charge when the the temperature drops, and this means more energy is required to start the engine. Also, cold weather causes the engine’s oil to become thick and sluggish, and this makes it more difficult for the engine’s components to perform.
Give your car’s engine enough time to warm up when it’s cold outside. The solution here doesn’t involve letting your engine idle forever. Rather, wait 30 seconds to a minute, and then drive the car at a gentle pace until the engine temperature gauge moves out of the “cold” range.
5. Drive Less and Avoid Short Trips, but Drive Your Car at Least Once a Week
The less you drive your car, the longer its engine will last. Cold starts can be particularly hard on your vehicle’s engine. Condensation gathers in your car’s exhaust when a cold engine is started, and if the engine doesn’t run long enough for this to evaporate, water can gather in the muffler and cause rust. You can avoid this problem by minimizing the amount of short trips that you take. If you have short errands to run, consider combining them into one longer trip.
Though driving less is better when it comes to maximizing engine life, it’s also important to know that it’s beneficial to drive your car at least once a week. If you leave your used car sitting for longer than a week or two, it may be subject to other problems, such as fluid loss.
Your Used Car’s Future Is in Your Hands
A car needs attentive care to deliver the kind of reliable engine performance you expect.
If you treat your car’s engine conscientiously, you stand a good chance of being rewarded with long engine life and dependable service.
If you have questions about this story, please contact us at Editors@carfax.com