How to Maintain Your Car's Engine

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How to Maintain Your CarThe engine is the part of the car that sends power to the transmission, allowing the car to move and function properly. A car's engine and its parts should be properly maintained and serviced for the engine to function. If the car's engine is not maintained properly, the engine may become irreparably damaged, resulting in high car repair bills. To avoid these high repair bills, a car owner should be familiar with the different types of engines and how they operate. The various parts of the car's engine, such as the engine oil, oil filter, engine coolant, spark plugs, valves, and timing belt or timing chain, should also be visually examined and routinely serviced for quality engine performance.

eBay offers a wide selection of affordable car engine maintenance supplies to help maintain any type of car engine. Replacement parts are also available if needed. Owners who prefer to let professionals handle maintenance and repairs can typically find plenty of automotive repair shops in their areas.

Types of Car Engines

There are two main types of internal combustion car engines. The most common type is the gasoline engine that is powered by gasoline fuel. Another type of internal combustion car engine is the diesel engine, which is powered by diesel fuel.

Gasoline Engine

In the power stroke of a gasoline engine, the air and gasoline fuel mixture is compressed by the piston and ignited by a spark plug at the top of the cylinder. The cylinders continually rotate, driving the crankshaft. The fluidity and timing of the engine system's parts are regulated by the timing belt or chain.

Diesel Engine

In the power stroke of a diesel engine, a spark plug does not ignite the diesel fuel within the cylinder. Instead, diesel engines use compressed hot air mixed with diesel fuel for ignition. The energy created drives the crankshaft and moves the car.

Engine Maintenance

To properly maintain a car's engine, routine inspection and replacement of faulty engine parts is required. Some of the most common engine problems are due to the deterioration of the engine oil, oil filter, engine coolant, spark plugs, PCV valve, and timing belt or timing chain. It is always important to schedule routine tune ups so that a certified mechanic can detect major problems before they occur.

Oil and Filter

The engine oil lubricates the engine parts, such as the pistons in the cylinders and the crankshaft and camshaft bearings. The oil filter removes any impurities from the engine oil before it lubricates the pistons and bearings. If the engine oil and filter are not regularly changed, they deteriorate and become filled with carbon deposits. This makes them less effective at lubricating the engine parts. Without proper lubrication, the engine parts produce more friction, and that causes mechanical wear on the engine, and the engine may not produce as much power. 

One of the ways a car's engine can be maintained is through routine oil and filter changes. The oil level can be checked by examining the engine oil dipstick. If the oil on the dipstick is black rather than a light brown colour, it is time to change the oil. The correct grade of oil and oil filter for the type of car engine is listed in the car's manual. A gasoline-powered engine can use either regular engine oil or synthetic oil. Synthetic oil lasts longer than regular engine oil, and it also works better with lower-mileage cars. Diesel engines should use diesel oil, which is thicker than regular engine oil. A gasoline engine's oil and filter should be changed every 4,800 to 8,000 km. A diesel engine's oil should be changed every 4,800 km.

Engine Coolant

When the fuel and air mixture in the car's engine is heated to combustion, the engine becomes very hot. The engine's temperature must be maintained to prevent the engine from overheating. The cooling system maintains the engine's temperature through the use of coolant or antifreeze. The coolant is pumped through the cooling system by the water pump. The heat from the engine is absorbed by the coolant and released through the radiator. If the coolant level is not properly maintained or drained when needed, it can result in rust particles contaminating the radiator and cooling system. This contamination or corrosion results in overheating of the engine, which causes extensive damage.

A car's engine can be maintained through regular checks of the coolant level. If the coolant level is significantly below the maximum fill line, coolant should be added to the reservoir. If the coolant level continues to drop significantly over a short period of time after adding coolant to the reservoir, there is probably a leak in the coolant system. Older gasoline-powered cars and diesel engine cars should have their coolant drained and replaced every two years or every 48,000 km. Newer gasoline-powered cars can go to 160,000 km before replacing the coolant.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs ignite the air and fuel mixture within the cylinders in a gasoline engine. The spark plug tip is connected to the engine block and the other end of the spark plug is connected to wires that go to the distributor. The spark plug causes the air and fuel mixture to ignite due to an energy surge sent from the distributor through the wires. If spark plugs do not ignite the mixture at the correct time, combustion does not occur, leading to engine problems and starting problems. Faulty spark plugs may be due to worn or missing wires leading from the distributor or an incorrect gap between the tip of the spark plug and the metal curved piece over the tip.

Spark plugs should be cleaned and replaced, as needed, to regularly maintain a car's engine. Copper spark plugs used with older cars should be inspected at every car tune up. They can be cleaned or replaced yearly if they show signs of wear or discolouration. Platinum spark plugs should be replaced, not cleaned, at 160,000 km or when they show signs of wear and discolouration. Spark plug gaps should also be maintained at correct spark plug gap specifications. 

PCV Valve

A PCV valve is a valve that is connected by a rubber hose to the intake manifold. The intake manifold allows the air and fuel mixture to enter the chamber to be pushed by the pistons to the cylinders for ignition. The PCV valve captures the gases that escape from the combustion chamber and reroutes them back into the air and fuel mixture. The gases are burned again when the air and fuel mixture is compressed and ignited by the spark plugs. Faulty PCV valves can lead to a buildup of moisture in the engine and sludge in the oil pan. A buildup of these substances reduces the engine's effectiveness and causes emissions problems and rough idling. 

A car's PCV valve should be examined at routine tune ups to help maintain a car's engine. It is usually replaced every 48,000 to 80,000 km. The PCV valve should also be replaced when the engine begins to idle erratically, and the valve appears worn and dirty. Failure to replace a worn PCV valve can affect the car's engine and emissions performance.

Timing Belt or Chain

A timing belt or chain moves the engine's camshaft, which opens and closes the cylinder valves in sequence with the movement of the pistons. This allows the air and fuel mixture to enter the cylinders for ignition. A timing belt or chain also helps with the release of exhaust gases during the exhaust stroke. A timing belt is located outside the engine. A timing chain is located inside the engine and is lubricated by the engine oil. A timing belt is not as durable as a timing chain and is subject to wear and damage over time. If a timing belt breaks, it can cause the engine to immediately stop working in a car. It can also cause irreparable damage to the engine. 

To maintain a car's engine and prevent extensive damage and high car repair bills, a timing belt should be replaced every 96,000 to 168,000 km. It should also be replaced if it appears worn or damaged by engine oil. A timing chain does not need to be replaced as often as a timing belt. A timing chain relies on quality engine oil for durability and long life. If the timing chain appears to be damaged or begins making unusual noises, it may be time for an inspection or replacement.

The following table examines common engine problems that can affect an engine's performance. These problems involve the engine oil, oil filter, engine coolant, spark plugs, PCV valve, and timing belt or chain. It briefly describes the problems and scheduled maintenance times.

Engine Part

Engine Problem


Oil and Filter


Carbon deposits

Replace every 4,800 to 8,000 km for gasoline cars

Replace every 4,800 km for diesel cars

Engine Coolant



Replace every 48,000 km for older gasoline and diesel cars

Replace every 160,000 km for newer cars

Spark Plugs

Rough starting

Rough idling

Replace copper plugs every car tune up

Replace platinum plugs every 160,000 km

PCV Valve

Engine moisture

Rough idling


Replace every 48,000 to 80,000 km

Timing Belt or Chain

Engine stops running

Noisy chain

Replace belt every 96,000 to 168,000 km or when damaged

Replace chain when damaged or noisy

Most problems with these engine components can be avoided by following recommended maintenance schedules. For self-mechanics, engine maintenance supplies come in different brands to fit any budget.


The most important part of a car is its engine. If there is a problem with the engine, such as an oil leak, coolant leak, damaged spark plug, or a damaged timing belt, the car's engine cannot work properly. The car may not operate correctly, and the engine could be extensively damaged, resulting in high car repair bills. To prevent problems from occurring, it is important to regularly perform preventative maintenance, including changing the engine oil, oil filter, engine coolant, spark plugs, PCV valve, and timing belt or chain when recommended. These actions can help maintain a car's engine and lengthen the serviceable life of the car.

For do-it-yourself owners, eBay offers a wide selection of different types of engine oil, oil filters, engine coolants, spark plugs, PCV valves, timing belts, and numerous other parts and supplies for use with different types of cars. It is easy to maintain a car's engine when using quality engine parts found on eBay. Nonetheless, many owners do not have the necessary knowledge to perform maintenance tasks themselves, and these owners can easily find assistance at local repair shops.

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