Cars & Vehicles
Fuel and Engines

How do you know if a car's engine is in good shape?

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Answered 2015-07-15 19:54:47

1-Compression test. This tests the state of the 'bottom half' of the engine and the valves and seats. All cylinders should should be within 5 psi, and near the high end of spec. If your compression gauge is old or of poor quality or the vehicle battery is suspect, look only for equality between cylinders, not comparison to spec.

2-Running compression test. Similar to above, but also identifies the presence of many valvetrain problems such as cam wear and valve lash that a regular compression test will not pick up on. The regular test is still important though because the running test is less sensitive to effects of worn rings and cylinder walls.

3-Compare oil pressure at idle to manufacturer's specification.

4-Visually look for external leaks, especially at gaskets and freeze plugs.

5-Visually look for oil in the radiator or coolant in the oil pan.

6-Use a non-contact thermometer to measure the temperature of engine block and head(s) at multiple locations after the engine has been idling for several minutes. The head(s) should have a consistent temperature, and the block should also have a consistent (not the same as heads though) temperature.

If all of the above check out okay, the engine is good.

If you want to know if the car is in good shape(engine), and not mess with it too much, just go to your local Autozone, or checker, and purchase a vacuum/fuel pump gauge. Its about 20.00 to 25.00 and very easy to use. The guage has a long vac. line and some fittingsattached to it. All you do is connect the vac. gauge to any vac port on the intake manifold while the car is warmed up and running. If your vac. reads from about -15 to -20 you have a sound engine. it takes about 10 mins. and you'll know.Good Luck, Mrkhh

If it sounds good and runs good, chances are it is good. Check the oil level regularly. If the engine is excessively worn, it will consume oil. Usually this is also accompanied by bluish-gray smoke from the exhaust (oil getting past worn piston rings or valve guides into the cylinders and burning along with the fuel). Also check for oil leaks. Test drive the vehicle and check oil pressure. Most cars the oil pressure gauge should read halfway or above with the engine running and at normal operating temperature. Mileage is not the main determinant of engine condition. Engines that have had regular oil changes and have been properly maintained are likely to give reliable service for many thousands of miles. Poorly maintained engines may need an overhaul very early in their lives. You may also have a compression test done at a local shop or do it yourself simple pressure guage and that will give you a good reading on engine compression lets you know if you have good compression also lets you know if you got leaks.

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