by Pat Goss
This time we’re going to do some automotive forensics. Now, we’re going to start with the fuel system. Most cars have fuel filters that need to be replaced periodically, and some of them will look like this one right here. Once the filter is off, look through it and see if you see any metal particles. If you do, chances are your fuel pump is going bad.
All right, some of them you can’t see through, so you take a hacksaw, put the filter in a vice, cut it apart. Once you get it apart, you can look at the media material inside, and again, if you see metal particles, those particles are probably coming from your fuel pump, and it isn’t long for this world.
Now up in the front of the car, we’ve got some expensive stuff up here, most namely the engine. And of course the engine is lubricated with oil, and oil looks great when it goes in, but it doesn’t look so great when it comes out. And what comes out can tell you a lot about the condition of your engine.
One thing you can do is you can cut apart the old oil filter, and once you’ve done that, you can separate the pleats, looking down inside for any signs of metallic contamination. And if you have metal in there, you’ve got a problem.
Now something else that you can do is called engine check, and engine check is a stainless steel screen that goes on the top of the oil filter when you put the new oil filter on. When you take the filter off, you look at whatever has collected on that screen, and it will tell you certain things about the condition of your engine. It’s pretty clever.
All right, also you could take a shop towel and you could strain the oil that comes out of your engine and look for residue on the shop towel after all the oil has drained through it. Again, that will tell you a lot about things that may be going wrong inside the engine.
But the really number one thing that you can do, that is an oil analysis. For an oil analysis, you buy a kit. They range anywhere from $15 to $25 on average. And you take a sample of oil out of the engine. That sample is sent off to a lab. They analyze it and tell you the general condition of your engine. It’s invaluable information.
If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.