After you have spent a tidy sum on a car purchase, it makes sense to protect that investment by maintaining your car through regular check ups as prescribed by the manufacturer. If you become aware of any knocking, grinding or other noises emanating from your car, or if your car does not seem to have its usual power, then a further investigation into the cause is in order.
When you start the engine, it should start with no delay. The idling engine should be continuous and smooth, without any hiccups. Check your tailpipe to ensure that there are no black smoke or liquid emissions. Any moisture you see within the engine is most likely indicative of a leak.
Check the fan, timing and other belts to make sure that they are not cracked and brittle. If they are, get them changed out. Also, look at the fuel and air filters and make sure that they are clean and free of solid deposits, and examine the contacts on spark plugs.
If your engine oil level is insufficient, you risk ruining your entire engine. If you find that you have to top up oil frequently, then most likely there are gaskets that are faulty and need replacing. The marker on the dipstick will tell you the level of oil in the engine. Make sure that the oil is not above the “full” mark, nor close to the “empty” marker. Engine oil should not be dark brown or opaque, nor should it appear that it contains water.
Ensure that the level of coolant in the radiator is sufficient. Note, however, that this should not be done when the engine is already heated as you risk getting burned. The radiator fan should be in good working order to cool the engine sufficiently. The radiator hoses should be free of cracks and tears. Your temperature gauge should lie just below the mid-point between “Hot” and “Cold”: anytime the gauge moves colder to the “Hot” marker, immediately switch off your engine, let it cool for at least 20 minutes, and begin your investigation into the temperature rise.
Check the oil pressure: when you turn the starter, the oil indicator light should not stay on for longer than two seconds; if it does, turn off your engine directly and check the oil filter and engine oil levels.
If you find that the gears do not engage smoothly from first to second, second to Drive, and so on, check transmission fluid for sufficiency and efficacy.