You don’t necessarily need to be an expert mechanic to know how to check your car engine for internal damage. While it is certainly not recommended to take your car apart or alter it mechanically without knowing what you’re doing, there are a few simple things you can do to determine if your car is running strong, or on its last leg. Not surprisingly, they rely on simple checks of the performance of your engine oil, and transmission. To perform these checks thoroughly, use the following steps.
- Make sure the car is on a level surface, and warm it up. Since you’ll be checking fluids for red flags and signs of internal engine damage, parking your car on a level surface is integral to getting proper, accurate readings. By warming it up, you will start a fluid distribution process within your car’s engine that will better indicate how it’s performing.
- Check the oil closely. While using the dipstick to check your car’s engine oil is an easy process, many don’t necessarily know what to look for. When you remove the dipstick, touch the leftover oil with your fingers. Look at it. It should be relatively translucent, and completely free of debris. Gritty oil can be the first sign of sludge buildup in your car’s engine, which is one of the chief causes of internal damage. If the oil seems milky or off color, there may be a leak of another fluid within your car’s engine.
- Check your transmission fluid. The second major mechanical operation that keeps your car on the road is your transmission, and the fluid that lubricates it. Checking transmission fluid in most cars is exactly like checking engine oil, it typically has a separate dipstick in a car’s engine block. If the transmission fluid is a translucent red, it’s in good condition. Signs of trouble include dark or black fluid or light pink fluid. The former indicates slipping gears and a possible failing transmission, while the latter means that there may be a coolant leak.
- Turn the engine back on, and examine how the car runs while parked. While the transmission is in park, rev your car’s engine just a bit, and check your tailpipe. If there’s a grey or slightly blue colored smoke coming out of your exhaust, you may be burning oil. If everything checks out symptom free, your car’s engine is likely free of internal damage.