Don’t Ignore Your Oil Level
Ignoring your Check Engine Oil light is a sure way to ditch your car or, to be more exact, to make its engine break down. Engine oil is a key factor in the lubrication system for your motor, which serves to aid the mechanical parts of the engine, reducing friction and providing cooling. Therefore, the untimely oil replacement leads to increased wear and heating up of the engine, negatively affecting its performance and resulting in its breakdown. And the engine repair or replacement involves heavy expenses amounting to thousands of dollars – is it worth the time and money saved by waiting to get your oil changed?
In addition to the recommendations of your car manufacturer, you should consider the following tips from auto mechanics:
- If your vehicle is olde, it has increased wear and tear on its mechanical parts and thus needs more frequent oil replacement.
- Your style of driving affects your oil consumption, and if you are a street racer, you should replace the oil more often.
- When operating a car in large cities with permanent traffic jams and multiple traffic lights, you should know that your engine tends to heat up more often and the consumption of oil increases.
- If you haven’t used your car in a long time, especially in winter, then it is necessary to change the engine oil before starting the vehicle since the engine accumulates condensate, which reduces the quality of the lubricants.
- Conventional oil is exposed to wear at high temperatures to a greater extent, so it should be changed about twice as often as synthetic oil.
- The quality of fuel directly affects the timing of oil replacement, as poor-quality gasoline leaves residues when burning, which gets into the oil, impairing its characteristics.
Don’t Use Pressure Washing to Clean Your Engine
There are endless debates among drivers about washing car engines – some say it is even prohibited by certain manufacturers, while others argue that they do it all the time and have no problems.
The fact is that in modern cars the engine compartment is stuffed with electronics, and you can easily damage something when cleaning. If flammable liquids like solvents are used for washing, there is a risk of fire right during the washing process, and it is even more risky to use electric heaters (fans, hair dryers, etc.) for drying the engine compartment. On the other hand, the failure to dry the compartment properly is no less dangerous since wet electric wiring is no laughing matter. If the engine is started before the detergent or water is completely removed, the risk of a short circuit increases. And what about corrosion? You shouldn’t factor it out. Besides, you need to remember that while diesel engines are able to work even after they are completely immersed in water, gasoline motors are far more sensitive and vulnerable.
So, experts recommend refraining from washing engine compartments unless they are extremely contaminated with oil or coolant leaks. Dirty engines overheat faster, because the dirt affects heat transfer, while the increased temperature in the lubricating system decreases the oil viscosity leading to the faster wearing of engine parts. In addition, when heated, oil stains under the hood can easily catch fire, not to mention the fact that your electric wiring can break down because of the oil.
To sum up, you can wash your engine for sale or maintenance purposes, but you shouldn’t overindulge in cleaning, and you definitely shouldn’t use a hose to this effect. There is a great step-by-step guide explaining how the job can be done with no risk of damage to your motor.
Don’t Top Off Your Tank
Some drivers just cannot drive by a gas station without topping off their tanks since they feel more secure with their vehicles filled with fuel. Additionally, some of them suspect that their tanks can hold more gas than specified by manufacturers. And they are quite right since the indicated fuel tank capacity is usually less than the real capacity – on average, the difference is about 10% for Japanese makes, 20% for European cars, and 15% for Chinese and Korean brands.
But this is done for a reason – the indicated fuel tank capacity doesn’t take into account some void space that performs a certain function. And filling stations provide automated blocking of fuel supply upon the nominal filling of tanks for the same reason. There is an evaporative system with a number of valves in your tank, serving to capture environmentally harmful fuel fumes, to prevent the fuel from pouring out through the vent tube during rollover accidents, and to provide the entry for atmospheric air to the tank as the fuel is consumed to ensure the necessary pressure level.
When topping off your tank, you cause the excessive fuel to fill the space intended for vapor and create dangerous pressure. This can lead to the fuel entering your evaporation canister and its functional loss, as well as to hazardous leaks, which can kill your engine, too. Besides, modern gas stations are equipped with vapor recovery systems that prevent pumping excess fuel into your tank – when you think you have topped off the tank, the gas goes back into the storage tanks, and you pay for nothing. So, what is the point of topping off?
Don’t Splash Your Way Across Puddles
Some drivers do think it is fun to shoot through a puddle – it is cool to see those splashes over the car, and it is an easy way to clean the underside and wheel arch liners after rain. And what is wrong with that? This is tomfoolery and nothing more (except for pedestrians splashed with mud). But actually, you can get more than you expect, even if the puddle is not very deep.
When water penetrates the engine cycling through the air intake, there is a risk of water hammer. The excess fluid causes a pressure surge crushing the engine piston, and it is enough to have water only in one of the cylinders to knock the engine out. Damaged pistons, bent connecting rods, and cracks in the cylinder blocks are the effects of this water hammer, which require an expensive engine overhaul.
Besides, deep puddles can hide unpleasant surprises like potholes, nails or even open sewer hatches, while the smallest amount of water on the road can create a dangerous phenomenon – the aquaplaning effect. In this case, a film of a few millimeters of water is formed between the tire and the road surface, and the tire tread loses its ability to drain water from under the flat spot, making your car float (you can learn more about the effect here).
Don’t Rest Your Foot on the Clutch Pedal
Do you know that there is a special footrest also called a dead pedal in manual cars? It is purposefully designed by manufacturers to provide you with a comfortable place for resting your left foot when it is not busy pressing the clutch pedal. You see, a clutch consists of discs, springs, a release bearer, levers, and many other mechanisms. When the clutch pedal is released, the clutch discs are tightly compressed by springs, while when you press the pedal slightly (like when resting your foot), the discs are unlocked and begin to rub against each other and heat up. In today’s hydraulic-operated clutches, your slight touch on the pedal goes into overdrive and results in the heavy wear of discs. Don’t push yourself into expenses and leave the pedal alone when not using it.
Maybe, there are even more basics you missed while learning for your DMV exams? Find out by reading your local operator handbook on the Driver Start website or by taking one of our sample tests using our awesome app!