Keep It Going – Engine Bay Service
Some vehicle manufacturers having spent quite some time and effort into examining the use that their products are put, this is particularly true with Vauxhalls parts, have decided that there is a case for a minimal service which is little more than an engine oil and filter change. This has come about, in many cases, by the increase in car ownership leading to one or even two of the family cars (in a three car family) being used primarily for repeated short trips, sometimes less than one mile. It is these very short journeys that accelerate the build up of contaminants within the engine oil and the increase in the amount of sticky black deposits found in the upper reaches of the engine, this substance is commonly referred to as a black death and can usually be seen around the valve gear area of the cylinder head visible when the oil filler cap is removed. The build up of these substances is created by the engine not having reached its full working temperature for any length of time. When the engine is at normal working temperature the risk of oil condensate (black death) is virtually zero and the contamination of the oil through excess fueling, the high incidence of cold starts, is reduced to a minimum. In severe cases the build up of sludge can start to coat the internal workings of the engine, reducing the size of oil ways obviously restricting oil flow as well as affecting the workings of the valve gear and piston rings which become stuck leading directly to higher oil consumption and loss of power.
With the above in mind regular engine oil and filter changes done at relatively short intervals can go a long way in reducing contaminant build up thereby prolonging engine life and, in the long term, reducing running costs.
In recent years engine oil technology has come on in leaps and bounds, although the oils acceptable 30 or more years ago are still easily available and can trap the unwary as to many people, oil is quite simply oil. As a minimum requirement choose a semi synthetic with an API rating of SG or higher. As always check the vehicle handbook for recommended oil specifications and if this is not available seek properly qualified advice.
Again with vehicle technology marching on comes increased service life for many components, this is never truer in the case of spark plugs often not requiring replacement for 20 thousand miles or more, consequently they are changed at full or major service intervals. However there is absolutely no harm in taking them out for a quick inspection and should one plug look radically different from its neighbours further investigation would be a good idea.
Modern cars tend to run much cleaner so the incidence of a sooted up or oil contaminated air filter is quite rare. Replacement intervals can be similar to that of spark plugs and again a quick inspection is all that may be required.
Aside from the other items listed in the weekly checks section that’s an engine bay service done and dusted.