Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maintaining a Turbo Engine.

Geez, I really should be posting up some of Rolla's progress during my holiday week. Okay let me sum up the story as I am quite busy now with assignment. Yeah last minute work ROCK!

First of all, I stripped the floor and painted it with anti rust paint. Surprisingly the floor is in good condition except a lil rust here and there at the driver side. Got a minor hole from the rust but I decided not to weld it. Most of the shop were closed during Chinese New Year.

The other issue was the engine problem. I'll go through with it in the next next post. Anyway, just wanna share some common tips on maintaining an engine, especially a turbo charged engine. Was doing some Google job since I am not happy with the current engine state.

Probably need a top overhaul to stop the leak and to find the real problem, a new blow off valve, and finally finding the source of the chemical smell that enters the cabin. Soon soon. And since I made a promise to myself that February is the fasting month for my wallet (Huahuahua), I probably will start to do the next project in March or sooner. And since my final final exam is coming soon, I guess I better start to focus on it first. Hahaha.

Rolla will be left at home after this, no more bringing it back to campus. I don't want Rolla to be dirtied over time when at campus, exposed to the sun light and moist, and the probability that Rolla will be scratched by some muthafucka is higher when the car is at campus, and what not. Plus the not-so-healthy engine is another excuse for not bringing it back.

Engine Maintenance Tips.

Nothing lasts forever; any car eventually will start having problems. However, while some cars may provide you with few hundred thousands miles of trouble-free driving, others start having problems from the beginning. Why there is such a huge difference?

Sometimes cars start having problems after accidents. Sometimes it may be a factory defect or design flaw. Heavy conditions like, for example, driving only short trips without letting the engine to warm up fully also make the engine life shorter.

Corrosion is another factor - for example, park the car for a few months in place with high humidity and later it will probably have more problems than the vehicle driven all this time on daily basis.

Yet, lack of maintenance is one of the most often reason for a car to break down.

Here is a visual example:
Compare these two images: the engine on a top photo hasn't been maintained well. Looks like it the engine oil hasn't been changed for long time. This engine has relatively low mileage and already needs serious and costly repair. The engine on the lower photo has been maintained well. After 175,000 miles (281,000 km) it's still in a very good condition, and needs no repair at all. Can you see the difference?

So, what's most important to keep your engine in a good shape?

- I guess, I won't say something new stating that regular oil changes is most important factor to keep the engine running. If you do it more often than suggested by manufacturer's schedule, that's even better.
- Avoid overheating the engine
- Changing spark plugs, air filter, timing belt and other items from maintenance schedule may save you from costly repairs.
- Fix any small problem right away before it causes a serious damage.

Engine oil change

Why regular oil changes are so important? What will happen if I miss my oil change? Engine oil has limited life - after a certain point it starts losing lubricating qualities and carbonizes. Once it happens, the engine gets contaminated with carbon deposits or sludge (see the photo) that significantly shorten engine's life. When you change oil at or before manufacturer suggested interval, you change the oil before this "carbonizing" point, engine remains clean and once refilled with new oil ready to work hard again. If the engine oil has not been changed for long, carbon deposits start clogging the oil pick-up screen decreasing oil supply and increasing friction. Through the engine ventilation system the same carbon deposits build up inside the throttle body and EGR system causing rough idle and possible check engine light. Compression decreases and engine start wearing much faster.
If you don't remember when you changed the oil in your car last time - just check the oil on the dipstick. And every time you change the oil, the oil filter should be replaced as well.

Checking the engine oil

Check the engine oil regularly, I'd recommend at least once a month or even more often if the car has high mileage.

Driving with extremely low oil level (less than min.) or with low oil pressure warning lamp on may cause serious engine damage

If you note, that oil pressure gauge indicates extremely low oil pressure - have your engine inspected as soon as possible.
- While checking the oil level, look at its condition. Check the image at the left. If the oil is black like on the right image, I'd suggest to change it.
- Always use only appropriate engine oil type (usually you can find it on oil cap or in the owners manual).
- Check your parking space for leaks. If you find any, fix it before it results in more serious vehicle problem

Synthetic oil vs. conventional mineral oil

The advantage of synthetic oil is that it can withstand higher temperature and can work longer without losing its lubricating qualities. It doesn't get thicker at below-zero temperatures providing good engine lubrication at a cold start. However, since it's more "thinner" a high-mileage engine filled with synthetic oil will more likely to develop leaks and you will more likely to hear lifters tapping noise at a start. Therefore, If you have low mileage or turbo engine and driving under heavy conditions such as high temperature, excessive load, long intervals without an oil change, etc., or simply want to provide extra protection for your engine, synthetic oil may be a good solution. But I don't think it's worth to use synthetic oil in high-mileage engines - thicker mineral oil will provide better protection as long as you change it regularly.

Engine cooling system

Engine overheating causes serious engine damage. In order to avoid the engine overheating:
Check the coolant level periodically. It should be at least at the "min" mark in the coolant reservoir. If it's lower, add the coolant bringing the level to the "max" mark.

Caution: Never open the radiator or the coolant overflow reservoir when engine is hot!

If you discover a coolant leak, have it fixed as soon as possible - it may cause engine overheating.
If you note that the engine temperature starts rising higher than normal, have your engine inspected before it will cause serious problems.
Check the front of the radiator - sometimes it may be obstructed with leaves or dust. It's one of the possible reasons for the overheating. Look at the image on the left. This Buick' radiator is clogged. Try to avoid using front end covers - they cause restrictions to the air flow through the radiator

Tune-up, timing belt, fuel injector flush

There are certain vehicle components that need periodical replacement (check your owner's manual for details) such as, for example:
Fuel filter -
dirty fuel filter may cause engine stalling and loss of engine power.
Air filter -
dirty air filter causes loss of engine power, increased fuel consumption, air flow sensor failure, etc.
Engine coolant -
old engine coolant loses its anti-corrosive and other characteristics and may cause water pump to fail.
Spark plugs -
simply spark plugs replacement can significantly improve the engine performance.
Timing belt -
timing belt failure may cause serious engine damage, especially if it's diesel engine.
Having a problem with fuel consumption or rough idle on a high mileage car? - Try fuel injectors service. You will note the difference right away.


CAUTION: The battery filled with harmful acid solution and can produce explosive gases. Handling a battery be careful and always use protective glasses and gloves. Don't use open fire, smoke, or create a spark near battery.

Most of batteries nowadays are maintenance free. All you check is battery terminals that shouldn't be loose or corroded. Corroded battery terminals will cause all kind of problem: blinking instrument lights, low charge, no-start, dim headlights, check engine and ABS malfunction light etc.
Also, if you see any acid leaks, cracks or any other damage - replace the battery. Acid leaking from the battery destroys everything underneath. For example on VW Golf it will be the fan control module located right under the battery.

Fix any small problems

If there is any problems with your engine, such as irregular noise or smell, or performance problems, leaks or smoke, or "check engine" light is on, etc., have your car inspected with a mechanic. It's always better to fix any small problem right away before they can cause engine damage. Be aware, some mechanics will try to scare you because they always want to sell you more job than your car really needs, so always ask to explain everything, to show you what exactly is wrong and why.

For vehicles with turbocharger

Oil is the life blood of your turbo. It helps cool and lubricate your turbo and its bearings. With out proper lubrication a turbo will overheat and seize.

With that in mind, here are some basic tips to maintaining a healthy turbo.

1.) Use only synthetic oil.

It is recommended to use only synthetic oil in a turbo application because synthetic oils are better at resisting thermal breakdown then non-synthetic oil, and we all know that turbos run at extremely high temperatures.

2.) Change your oil every 2,500-3,000 miles.

When run through an extremely hot turbo, oil breaks down and becomes dirty very fast. It is very important to change your oil every 3,000 miles.

3.) Check you oil level often.

You want to check your oil at least once a week. Due to various, strenuous conditions of positive manifold pressure and excess heat caused by a turbo you want to check your oil levels at least once a week.

3.) Let your oil cool down before you shut off your car.

It is very important to let your car idle for an extended period of time after driving. (The amount of time really depends on how hard you drive the car). This allows the turbo and ultimately your oil to cool down which prevents coking of your turbo bearings and oil lines.

4.) Make sure you oil in the turbo before starting the car after an oil change.

It is important to make sure that the turbo bearings are lubricated before you start your car after an oil change, to do this, pull your ecu fuse and crank your car until your oil pressure light turns off. This will ensure the turbo has oil in it before you start the car.

Thanks to the writer for the great tips. The original article can be found here and here too.

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