Categorized | Auto Blog

Oil And Water Don’t Mix – Check Your Engine! Part One

Oil And Water Don’t Mix – Check Your Engine! Part One

Just because a car is new or modern doesn’t mean that it looks after itself. In one way that’s fortunate; it would be a bit of a worry if a car never needed our intervention – and then what? Our presence?

Although cars have warning lights to advise you of impending doom, they also have more subtle ways of letting you know when something is wrong. It pays to check your fluids. Engine oil should be toffee coloured when new. Some synthetics may be lighter. As it ages it starts to turn darker. This is perfectly normal, but there are tell-tale signs when something is starting to go wrong.

Check your oil in the usual way via the dipstick. Is there a glob-like sludge? This means your oil has long since reached the end of its life and should have been changed way back. It may even have been contaminated by water, for which see below. This is a crisis which is a major contributor to engine problems and can require the motor to be replaced, if the damage is severe. Are there tiny metal flakes? This isn’t unusual of itself but if you rub the oil with your fingers – wearing rubber gloves of course – and can feel the flakes then something serious is afoot. A gritty feel means that the oil filter should have been replaced a long time previously. It always pays to check immediately after a service that these jobs have been done. The oil should be clean and, if you can see the filter, it should look brand spanking. Finally, when checking oil, if it has a milky appearance – look for yoghurt-like gunk around the inside of the oil filler cap – then it is mixed with water from the cooling system. This can mean one of two things. Either a blown head casket, which can be attended to, or a crack in the engine block which will mean reaching for the visa card and holding your breath!

If, when regularly checking your oil as you should, you find that the level always seems low then, rather obviously, you’ve sprung a leak. If you think your engine is dropping oil under the car – a big overnight piece of cardboard is useful – then it’s more than likely a gasket is leaking somewhere. Blue smoke means burning oil. If you see it from the exhaust at start-up it is probably a leaking valve seal. This is when oil drips into the engine when it’s cold and burns off when you start the engine. If the problem is a blown piston ring it means oil is burning in the combustion chamber and you’ll get blue smoke in normal running. Finally, if the oil is foamy then the bottom of the crank is churning the oil in the sump and is an indicator of too much oil in the engine. This is as bad as a lack of oil.

If you see any of these problems then your car is trying to tell you something. Ensure a regular maintenance schedule and act immediately to resolve these issues. You might just avoid a massive bill.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

Contact the author

Leave a Reply

All comment forms are spam protected.

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