The majority of car owners take the time to look after their car's appearance, washing the outside of it and vacuuming its interior, but are you aware of how you should be taking care of its inner workings?
To many, the ins and outs of the engine can be pretty baffling, but you need to have a basic understanding of how it works to prevent a breakdown and to minimise your risk of being involved in a road accident.
Here, we at startrescue.co.uk have compiled a brief guide to tell you what you need to know to be able to look after your engine.
Change your oil
Changing the oil in your car takes just five minutes, but can help to save a lot of time and money by preventing potential breakdowns.
To do this, all you need to do is unscrew the drain plug, which will be located at the bottom of the oil pan in the engine. Before you take the cap off though, you'll need to place a container underneath it to catch the old oil as it drains out.
Dispose of this safely before inserting a filter into the pan and pouring the fresh oil into it, taking care to leave around one-quarter of the total contents in the bottle.
Then, screw the cap back on to the pan and switch on the engine for around one minute. If all seems well, allow the fresh oil some time to settle before gradually emptying the rest of the bottle's contents via the filter. Throughout the process, check the oil level using a dipstick and stop pouring if it gets too high.
Once complete, make sure the cap is screwed tightly back in place and go for a short drive to check the car is functioning properly. If you're concerned about any noises or judders coming from the engine, get in touch with a mechanic as soon as possible.judders coming from the engine, get in touch with a mechanic as soon as possible.
If you smell something strange coming from your car's engine, there may be an oil leak, which will need to be checked out straight away.
Take care of the cooling system
It's highly likely that you never give your car's cooling system much thought.
However, if this part of your engine isn't working properly, your car is significantly more likely to overheat. Therefore, if the coolant system isn't in the best possible condition, you could be putting yourself at increased risk of experiencing a breakdown.
To keep your vehicle's cooling system in good working order, make sure there is a good amount of radiator fluid flowing throughout the engine, or the car will not be able to heat itself and cool itself down as it should.
In addition, the coolant liquid - which is the coloured fluid you'll see in a clear vessel when yo
u lift your bonnet - needs to be topped up above the minimum mark, but below the maximum level detailed on the tank.
If you have any concerns regarding your car's cooling or heating system, seek expert advice. Investing in a repair or replacement will be a lot less costly than paying for major repairs to your vehicle caused by a breakdown or crash due to such an issue.
Stay topped up with petrol
You'll already know that you need to keep your car topped up with petrol for it to operate properly and safely, but are you aware that accidentally filling up with the wrong sort of fuel could cause significant damage to your engine?
Official figures show that around 150,000 drivers make this mistake every year, but if you realise your error before leaving the petrol station, do not start the engine, as this will lead to the fuel circulating throughout your vehicle and becoming contaminated with old petrol traces, which can cause costly damage.
Give your engine a break in traffic
That stop-start, stop-start on your clutch pedal while you're stuck in traffic can not only drive you insane, but it can also lead to engine damage.
The constant brief revving can cause parts of the engine to burn out or your car to overheat if it's a particularly hot day, so if it looks like you'll be stuck in a jam for a while, turn your engine off completely and give your car a break - you're bound to be glad of it too.
Always check a warning light
If a warning light appears on your dashboard, don't ignore it.
It'll be notifying you that something's not quite right in the inner workings of your car. If you feel confident enough, lift the bonnet yourself and have a look to check if the oil is topped up to its optimum level and if everything appears OK. But if you're unsure, contact a mechanic for a second opinion as soon as possible - leaving the light there will only cause the situation to get worse.
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