How Can You Keep Your Engine Running Like New?

When most people buy a car, they’re looking for something that can carry them from point A to point B safely and for as long as possible. Unfortunately, car engines won’t take care of themselves, and a neglected engine is the quickest way to send your new or new-to-you car straight to the junkyard. What can do you do to keep your engine running like new throughout the life of your car?

Keep Up With Your Service Schedule

Take a look in your owner’s manual and you should find something called a service schedule. Basically, it’s a timeline for when you should take your car in to be serviced and when you should replace certain parts, like your water pump or timing belt.

Contrary to popular belief, this service schedule isn’t a money grab or something designed to make you waste your time at the shop — the car manufacturers are trying to help you get the most out of your car for as long as possible. Just don’t listen to any shops that swear you need to change your oil every 3,000 miles — that’s a sales gimmick. Newer cars, especially, can go upwards of 7,500-10,000 miles before they require an oil change.

Don’t Drive Rough

It can be tempting to floor it to get the most out of your engine, but driving your car roughly causes additional wear and tear, and might leave you stranded. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t slam on the brakes to avoid an accident or accelerate hard to pass a slow driver — but don’t make a habit of it. They say slow and steady wins the race, and that goes double for your car. Unless you’re actually racing, that is.

Engine Treatments Are Your Friend

Walk into your local parts store and you will probably see an entire wall dedicated to chemicals — and we can almost guarantee at least eight feet of that wall is filled with engine treatments. These pour-and-play treatments are designed to help you get the most out of your engine by reducing wear, improving gas mileage and even helping your oil lubricate better.

Your engine is made up of so many metal moving parts a little bit of extra lubrication can go a long way toward keeping things running smoothly.

Use Your Ears

If you’re anything like us, the first thing you turn on after you start your car is the radio — especially if you’ve got a high-end system installed to let you get the most out of your music. While some tunes are great while you’re on the road, consider turning off the radio every once in a while to listen to the engine as it’s running.

It might not speak English, but that doesn’t mean your engine won’t speak to you. Keep an ear out for strange sounds that are out of place — metal knocking on metal, strange squealing or hissing noises could all mean that you’ve got a problem under the hood. If you’re not sure what is making the noise, there are plenty of resources on the Internet to help you out. Professional and casual mechanics have gathered a sound library to help you identify various noises and the problems they indicate.

Don’t Neglect the Rest of Your Car

The engine might be the heart of the car, but having a heart doesn’t help you much if the rest of the body doesn’t work! Pay attention to things like your tire pressure, suspension wear and drive train to make sure all the power your engine is creating has somewhere to go. Poor tire pressure can also make it harder for your tires to grip the road and reduce your overall gas mileage, making it more expensive to drive your car. Then also make sure you’re doing enough to keep it from getting stolen or even run into when parked.

There is no perfect way to keep your engine from breaking down or wearing out over time, but by keeping up with your service schedule and treating it to an engine treatment now and then, you can help keep your engine running like new for years to come.

From Scott Huntington, a guest NMA blogger who is an automotive writer from central Pennsylvania. Check out his work at Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter@SMHuntington

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