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Why Heat Is Your Engine's Mortal Enemy

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Most automobiles in the modern era are well engineered to take into account average wear and tear. The engine, in particular, is carefully regulated so that it doesn't overheat and so that all of its internal parts are properly lubricated. Yet this is a very dynamic environment, and much will also depend on whether the vehicle is serviced at regular intervals and if the owner pays particular attention to fluid levels. If these areas are neglected, then heat and friction can take over, and this may lead to a significant engine failure. What can you do if you're presented with this situation?

The Perils of Heat

From the point of view of the engine, perhaps the biggest enemy is heat, especially in this type of climate. Ordinarily, the block and cylinder head are automatically cooled by water that flows through special chambers and is then diverted to a cooling system. Yet this cooling system also relies on good maintenance and it can easily fail, with dire consequences. Something as small as a thermostat, which typically only costs a few dollars, can break and scupper the entire system.

Inevitable Failure

If an engine is running under load without proper cooling systems in place, it will rapidly overheat to the point of failure. One of the first components to go will be the head gasket, which sits in between the cylinder head and the engine block. This is the "weakest link", and once it gives up, the coolant can leak into the central chambers and many of the internal components may warp.

Early Warning Signs

Thankfully, the driver will usually be able to switch off the engine before any catastrophic damage is caused. After all, the engine will begin to emit loud noises and will belch a lot of white smoke from the tailpipe.

Repairing the Head and Block

At the very least, the cylinder head will need to be rebuilt, and all other parts of the engine inspected from top to bottom. Sometimes, the engine block will need to be rebored, as well.

Detailed Work

Typically, the valves and springs will need to be swapped out, as will the old rings, seals, bearings and gaskets. Everything will need to be checked on a testbed to ensure that tolerances are maintained and before the engine can be reassembled.

Trusting the Engineers

In many cases, you may be able to get away without a complete engine replacement, even though the renovation job is quite complicated. Thankfully, engineers are able to salvage most motors in this situation, but you do need to ensure that it does not happen again in the future.

For more information, contact your local cylinder head service.