I wrote about this last year and just wanted to do a refresher; just in case you didn’t catch it in print, I asked Azkal Hottie Anton Del Rosario (thru Kia Philippines) if he could make this otherwise boring topic interesting for us girls to actually know how engines work.
Engine. The powerhouse of any vehicle is basically an internal combustion chamber. It is the heart of the vehicle. Like the human body, the engine’s main objective is to burn fuel and create energy that will propel the vehicle. Engines can either be gas, diesel or electric powered, there are other permutations of it as well, 2 stroke engines, Rotary Valve engines, 4 stroke, V8, etc. For our discussion we will focus on the basics.
Keeping the engine in good condition (by getting it tuned up regularly) helps avoid problems in the future and gives reliability. There are a gazillion permutations of engine technology, which all attest to the configurations of the pistons and valves, is just basically, how fuel goes in, gets burned and is released. In our diagram is the Kia Rio’s dual CVVT; other variations are BMW’s Twin Turbocharged, Ford Explorer’s Eco Boost, Honda’s Vtec, and etc. Explaining the difference will be the subject of another article.
Oil Filler cap – This is the entry point for putting oil into the car engine. Oil is important to keep all the parts in the engine running smooth and well lubricated while the engine is running at high temperature. Like the body, machines produce a lot of friction and when it’s not lubricated, parts can get chaffed.
Spark Plugs – The spark plugs are used inside the engine to burn fuel. It takes electricity from the battery and ignites the fuel inside the engine to create power to move the car forward or back.
Battery – This is the source of electricity for the car. It comes in many sizes depending on the amount of electrical load your car needs. It powers everything from the AC, radio, windows and engine. In the event that when you turn the key on the ignition and it only produces a clicking sound, check the battery terminals, they might be corroded or loose, you can try to loosen the bolts, pour some water and tighten again.
Radiator – Engines run very hot. Most engines have water circulating around it to keep it cool. This water tends to also get very hot as well, which the radiator cools down before recalculating or else the engine will malfunction. So this is like the car’s version of counting 1-10. Make sure the radiator is full of water every week to ensure your car does not overheat. But check manufacturer setting if your radiator is pressurized which means; you are not supposed to open it.
Reserve Engine Coolant bottle – In many cases nowadays, the car manufacturer asks you not to add water to the radiator because it is pressurized. In these cases, open the reserve engine coolant bottle at the side of the radiator to check the water/ coolant level and add more if needed. Generally, if there is water/coolant in this bottle then you should be OK.
Transmission or gearbox – The transmission contains the gears that allow the car to travel at different speeds. The important thing to keep note of is to check that it has oil in it. Manual transmission cars have gear oil and Automatic transmissions use ATF. Unless you are as knowledgeable in cars as Meagan Fox in Transformers, you will need to have your mechanic do this for you.
Oil Dip Stick – This is usually colored yellow and predominantly sticks out beside the engine. When you pull it out you will need to clean it up to remove oil splatter, then back again to check the oil level. You should see 2 distinct lines on the end of the dipstick. Your oil level has to be somewhere in between. Check this in the mornings, with the engine off so that the oil has settled at the bottom the night before. Don’t have it checked at the gas station. It will always look that you need more because the oil has circulated around the engine and it is not an accurate reading.
Windscreen wiper fluid bottle – This holds the water that sprays onto the windshield when you turn on your wipers. Check this weekly and add a bit of dishwashing soap to the mix. This aids in cleaning and keeping the windshield clear when it rains.
Brake Fluid bottle – The brake system works on the pressure of fluids in the system (hydraulic). It is important to keep a bottle of brake fluid in your car’s boot for emergencies. In most cars a good indicator is when the handbrake light stays on all the time on the dashboard, it is a reminder to check the brake fluid level.
Air filter and Air box – An engines job is to burn fuel. Fuel can only be burned if there is a spark for ignition and air. The air comes into the engine through the air box and is cleaned by the air filter. It is important to check this and clean the filter regularly because when the filter gets clogged up then fuel cannot be burned properly making it inefficient which will equal to rise in your fuel consumption, and this will eat up into your “new bag” fund.
Power steering fluid bottle – Similar to the brakes, we should also check this regularly. The power steering fluid or ATF is important in running the power steering in the car. Without this, your power steering will become “pawis” Steering. Sweat stains are never fashionable.
Fuse box – The fuse box is important to protect all electrical devices from getting destroyed by short circuits. When something goes wrong with the wiring of the car, the 1st thing to go is the fuse. This is a good thing cause it ensures that the more important electricals such as AC (to keep you nice and pretty), radio (keeps you entertained) and power windows (gives you the dramatic reveal when a hot rescuer comes) will not go out on you (unless of course it’s fuse is the one that gave out.) If your electrical device stops working in the car, the 1st thing to do is check the fuse. If you keep blowing the same fuse, then it is time to see an electrician.
One more for prosperity.