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Beginners Guide to Maintaining

and Repairing the Important


Systems of Your Engine

Figure 1: Subaru H6 Boxer Engine

Table of Contents
0.) Introduction........................................................................................................... 3
Warning................................................................................................................. 3
Statement of Attribution......................................................................................... 3
1.) Vacuum System..................................................................................................... 4
1.1.) Tools and Parts............................................................................................... 4
1.2.) Repair............................................................................................................. 4
2.) Intake System....................................................................................................... 5
2.1.) Diagnosis........................................................................................................ 5
2.2.) Tools and Parts............................................................................................... 6
2.3.) Repair............................................................................................................. 6
3.) Timing System....................................................................................................... 7
4.) Fuel Delivery System............................................................................................. 8
4.1.) Diagnosis........................................................................................................ 8
4.2.) Tools and Parts............................................................................................... 8
4.3.) Repair............................................................................................................. 9
5.) Ignition System..................................................................................................... 9
5.1.) Diagnosis........................................................................................................ 9
5.2.) Tools and Parts............................................................................................... 9
5.3.) Repair............................................................................................................. 9
6.) Crankcase Ventilation System.............................................................................10
6.1.) Diagnosis...................................................................................................... 10
6.2.) Tools and Parts............................................................................................. 11
6.3.) Repair........................................................................................................... 11
7.) Coolant System................................................................................................... 12
A.) Glossary.............................................................................................................. 13
B.) Works Cited......................................................................................................... 13

Table of Figures
Figure 1: Subaru H6 Boxer Engine...................................................................1
Figure 2: Vacuum lines connecting at blue valve and black braided line
adjacent show age....................................................................................4
Figure 3: Intake tubing and ducting; electrical connection for MAF can be
seen middle of image. Air filter is hidden below........................................5
Figure 4: Why routine air filter change is necessary........................................6
Figure 5: A basic 4 cylinder timing belt set up; components labeled...............7
Figure 6: Inline fuel filter near rear axle...........................................................8
Figure 7: Ignition coils being removed using zip ties.....................................10
Figure 8:CV system can be seen as it has been replaced. Large circle is the
valve; the tube is to intake manifold. The crankcase tube runs behind.. 11
Figure 9: Coolant in a reservoir can be seen to have oil floating inside.........12

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0.) Introduction
The modern automobile engine is a complex work of engineering and the
various system components need to be functioning in perfect harmony in
order to keep the car on the road. While the engine will usually give a sign
when there is an issue, such as a single misfire*, random misfires*, smoking,
power loss, poor gas mileage, overheating, underheating, strange noises, or
something else, tracking down the source can be tedious and expensive. This
guide is intended to assist in the process of diagnosing a malfunction of an
automobile as well as providing a comprehensive maintenance procedure of
the major components. It is intended to help the beginner level, DIY garage
warrior; someone who knows how to change their oil, but wants to bring their
car knowledge up a notch. To utilize this guide, it is helpful to have
experience under a hood of a car as well as a basic understanding of the
process of a combustion engine. While I have no technical schooling, I have
been working on cars for close to 5 years. This is a guide I wished I had found
5 years ago.

Following this guide will not only save money on maintenance costs at a
shop but also on repairs, fuel costs, and increase efficiency of your engine.
While not all steps need to be performed at the same time nor can all repairs
be done by this guide, it is a comprehensive list of instructions for screening
and maintaining major engine systems. Most importantly, it will help the
reader understand what level of expertise is needed for these repairs.

Warning All of the work or steps in the guide take place inside the
engine bay of a car or underneath. Ensure to take precaution of the engine
battery as the voltage is dangerous. Also, ensure any work done is on a cold
engine as an engines operating temperature is close to 200 degrees
Fahrenheit, and does take a considerable amount of time to cool down.
Ensure the vehicle is on a level surface, pinned from possible rolling. No jacks
or lifts are necessary for this guide. I am not liable for any injury endured
from this guide.

Statement of Attribution All information, unless otherwise cited, was


gathered from the knowledge of Sam Jimenez.

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1.) Vacuum System
The first place to attend to of an engine is the vacuum system. Many of a
cars systems run off the vacuum system. Power brakes is one of these
systems, which demonstrates the importance of a healthy vacuum system. A
vacuum system comprises of a network of silicone hoses. As a car ages,
these silicone hoses can become brittle and crack. When this happens, a
multitude of problems occur, including loss of brake power. In a naturally
aspirated* car, these vacuum lines are connected directly to the intake
manifold. A naturally aspirated engine would be most affected by a vacuum
leak as this leak would bypass the engines intake system. A turbocharged*
or supercharged* engine would be less affected by a vacuum leak as the
compressor creates a positive pressure in the intake under load, which
results in the need for a separate vacuum pump. However, in both engine
configurations, the vacuum is pivotal to braking and emissions and should be
routinely checked. Instead of spending time trying to find a leak, it is
generally best to replace all hoses.

1.1.) Tools and Parts


Attention of the vacuum system will require:
At least 10 feet of silicone vacuum hose (diameter varies for each vehicle
so check online before purchasing)
A box knife or similar
Dish Soap

1.2.) Repair
Go through and replace one hose at a time. Remove one hose, cut the new
hose to that length, and then use a very small amount of dish soap to
lubricate each end of the new hose and replace. A standard engine usually
contains 5-10 different vacuum lines. A diagram of your specific car should
be available in your service manual or online. This repair should be done
approximately every 6-8 years or 80,000 miles.

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Figure 2: Vacuum lines connecting at blue valve and black braided line adjacent show age

2.) Intake System


Branching off of the vacuum lines, another common place of failure is in the
intake system or mass airflow sensor (MAF). While less common than
vacuum lines, this system often produces a misfire or poor performance.
Most intake systems comprise of a system of tubing open to the environment
with a filter along the way as well as a mass air flow sensor and then ending
at the intake manifold. Issues with this system are less pivotal than the
vacuum as the intake isnt involved with any other engine functions,
however, damage can result from a malfunctioning intake system.

2.1.) Diagnosis
Any leaks or cracks in the plastic of the intake could result in airflow issues.
The engine is designed and programmed for a specific flow of air, and when
this airflow isnt present, the MAF alerts the computer. Contrarily, when the
MAF goes bad, it alerts the computer even when the airflow may be
acceptable. While comprehensive replacement of the system is unnecessary,
each section should be evaluated.

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Figure 3: Intake tubing and ducting; electrical connection for MAF can be seen middle of
image. Air filter is hidden below.

2.2.) Tools and Parts


Attention of the intake system will require:
A flathead or Phillips screwdriver
Pliers in some cases

2.3.) Repair
There are three main devices to attend and check. The first is the tubing of
the intake. Evaluate the tubing for cracks or leaks. Generally, these plastic
tubes held together by large hose clamps. Taking these tubes apart and
evaluating can be helpful. The next item is the MAF. There is an electrical
connection to this sensor to easily identify it. If removing the connection of
the sensor makes no difference on the idle of an engine, or no dash lights
illuminate, the sensor is probably bad. The last item is the filter. All engines

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have some sort of intake filter. It is generally best to replace this as often as
you can, it will increase the output of the engine as well as the fuel efficiency.

Figure 4: Why routine air filter change is necessary

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3.) Timing System
The most important of all maintenance checks would be the timing system.
Most of the combustion engines in todays vehicles run a camshaft and and
crankshaft system for timing the valves of the engine to open and close at a
very specific time. The crankshaft is the power output of the engine, it is
then connected to a belt or chain which is then connected to the camshafts
to in order to ensure the intake and exhaust valves open when the pistons
are in the correct stroke and locations. Should this system fail, the valves will
not open or close at the right time. If this occurs at a high engine speed, the
valves could come in contact with piston heads and impart serious damage
on the engine. Rigorous checking of this system must be done.

While replacement of the timing is beyond the scope of this guide, it is


important that all car owners know the criticality of this system. Most
systems which use a belt need to have that belt replaced every 80,000 to
120,000 miles and while chains last longer, they should not be ignored.
Common signs of timing issues could be multiple misfires, loud clattering if
using a timing chain, and a very poor idle. However, there is no reason to
wait for these signs to occur before replacing as spontaneous failure can
occur. The coolant pump is also commonly located on this system, it should
be replaced at the same time and this is addressed in section 7. A trained
technician is best assigned for this task.

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Figure 5: A basic 4 cylinder timing belt set up; components labeled.

4.) Fuel Delivery System


Combustion engines need gasoline to produce power, however, the fuel
delivery system is a complex process that can be hard to diagnose. The most
common fuel system is a multipoint electronically controlled fuel injection
system. This system uses a pump placed, 2 fuel filters, a fuel rail, injectors
for every cylinder, a fuel pressure regulator, and many fuel lines. Some
European engines use a HPFP (high pressure fuel pump) mounted on the
engine.

4.1.) Diagnosis
Issues that arise of this system are very apparent when a white, thin smoke
comes out of the exhaust, the engine stalls, or wont start. This can be traced
back to the fuel pump failure or injector malfunction. Injector repairs are
beyond the scope of this guide as they vary greatly between engines and
can be an extensive repair. A HPFP repair is very specific to a few engines
and more information can be found online. Filters are a good maintenance
item and can improve the longevity of the engine and injectors.

4.2.) Tools and Parts


Attention of the in-tank fuel pump and filters requires:
Screwdrivers

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Trim removal tools (depending on vehicle)
Crescent wrenches for in line removal
New, vehicle specific filters
Socket set to remove battery connections

Figure 6: Inline fuel filter near rear axle

4.3.) Repair
A common maintenance would be a fuel filter replacement. Removing the
battery will prevent the fuel pump depressurizing the system when releasing
lines. The filters keep the gasoline going into the injectors clean and
prevents damage. The maintenance filter is located on the fuel lines
underneath the car. The fuel lines are often metal tubing and it will be along
one of these lines (not to be confused with the rear brake lines). Using
wrenches, or a flat head if hose clamps are used, loosen the top and bottom
ends of the filter. Replace with new filter. This is a directionally dependent
filter, so ensure flow is going the correct way through the filter. Reconnect
battery and fuel system should automatically pressurize.

5.) Ignition System


Working with the injectors, gasoline engines use a spark to ignite the
injected fuel. These sparks are all individually activated by an ignition
system. This system consists always of spark plugs, and varying connections
based on the engines. Some engines use ignition coils and some use spark
plugs. These are a common maintenance item.

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5.1.) Diagnosis
Failure in this system could result in a thin white smoke in exhaust (due to
lack of ignition as opposed to injector malfunction), random misfires*, or
single misfire*. Also, if a single misfire exists, trading plug wires, plugs, or
coils with cylinders can show if a single ignition failure is a culprit or another
system is affecting the failure. Replacing this system routinely also will
improve output and fuel efficiency. Expect a replacement every 60,000-
80,000 miles.

5.2.) Tools and Parts


Tools needed for ignition system:
Spark plug socket
Ratchet
Socket Extention
Zip-ties if ignition coils

5.3.) Repair
Locating the ignition system should be straight forward, there will be wires
running to each cylinder head. Care should be taken to not confuse this
system with the fuel delivery system. If the engine uses ignition coils, zip ties
will be helpful by creating a hook, slid under the plug, and then pulled to
remove. If the car uses plug wires, these can be removed by hand. The spark
plug will be down in the cylinder head. Use the extension, ratchet, and spark
plug socket to remove the spark plug and extract. Remove each plug and
coil, or wire, individually and replace individually. This will prevent any cross
cylinder connections.

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Figure 7: Ignition coils being removed using zip ties.

6.) Crankcase Ventilation System


The Crankcase Ventilation system is one of the most looked over and
forgotten systems of combustion engines. The crankcase, or effectively the
where the oil pan volume is, builds up pressure due to blow-by of
combustion. Since no seal is a perfect seal, the O-rings* allow some of the
combustion material into the crankcase. This pressure needs to be released
and the ventilation system allows a one-way release of pressure back into
the intake system. This also keeps gas and water vapor out of the crankcase.

6.1.) Diagnosis
When this system fails, much like the vacuum system, the intake manifold is
directly connected causing a bypass of the intake system in air flow. This can
result in misfires, increased fuel usage, and poor engine performance. Also, if
the valve fails open, this will allow oil to enter the intake very easily,
increasing oil consumption of the engine. Turbo or supercharged engines are
more likely to have CV failure as the system has to seal under positive
pressure in the intake manifold and open under negative pressure. This
increases wear on the system components.

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6.2.) Tools and Parts
Maintenance of this system requires the following:
A new CV valve and hoses (specific for vehicle)
Heater hose can be a good replacement hose

6.3.) Repair
The system can be hard to locate, there is a hose coming from the
crankcase, usually one from each valve cover, a large valve, and a hose to
the intake manifold. These hoses will be come brittle so removal should be
cautionary as these hoses connect major engine components that shouldnt
be contaminated. Replace hoses and valve with a new system.

Figure 8:CV system can be seen as it has been replaced. Large circle is the valve; the tube is
to intake manifold. The crankcase tube runs behind.

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7.) Coolant System
In terms of longevity, a properly operating coolant system is an important
way to ensure a healthy engine lifetime. The coolant system runs a
water/coolant mix through a radiator, passageways in the engine block, a
reservoir, a thermostat valve, a heater core, and in engines that have them,
a turbocharger or supercharger. This is all run by the water pump which is
commonly located on the timing system. Because the timing is also a critical
function of the engine, it is recommended to replace the water pump while
attending to the timing system to ensure both systems will function correctly.
A faulty water pump can be catastrophic to the engine such as overheating.
A subtle squeaking noise from a warm engine can be a tell tale sign of a
faulty water pump. Maintenance in this system primarily exists in examining
the fluid in the reservoir and replacing the thermostat.

A faulty coolant system can overheat the engine, supercharger, turbocharger


which will create cracks in the engine block and engine head. A functioning
coolant system should maintain the color of the coolant in the reservoir.
Coolant mixed with oil or gas can be observed and should be noted as a
possible head gasket failure. A car that isnt warming up in an adequate
amount of time (less than 15 minutes) very likely has a thermostat failure.
This should be replaced promptly as a forever cold engine will cause
unnecessary wear on the piston rings. While a thermostat and head gasket
replacement are beyond the scope of this guide, it is important in order to
maintain an engine to keep an eye on the temperature and health of the
engines coolant.

Figure 9: Coolant in a reservoir can be seen to have oil floating inside.

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A.) Glossary
- Single Misfire: One cylinder failing to fire
- Random Misfires: inconsistent combustion failing on all cylinders
- Naturally Aspired: Vehicle without compressor on intake
- Turbocharger: Compressor powered by vehicle exhaust to increase air
pressure in intake manifold. Results in increased power output
- Supercharger: Compressor powered by engine crankshaft pulley
- O-Rings: Rings wrapped around cylinder head to seal piston with housing,
limiting blow-by of gases and oils

B.) Works Cited

Figure 1: http://silodrome.com/h6-boxer-engine/
Figure 2: Sam Jimenez
Figure 3: Sam Jimenez
Figure 4: http://www.carmudi.com.ng/journal/wp-
content/uploads/2015/02/dirty-car-air-filter-carmudi.jpg
Figure 5: http://atlanticmotorcar.com/wp-content/uploads/timing-belt2.jpg
Figure 6:
http://s29.photobucket.com/user/warrior62_00/media/Audi/P2240687.jpg.htm
l
Figure 7: http://s270.photobucket.com/user/projectxj/media/s4/spark
%20plugs/IMG_0971.jpg.html
Figure 8: http://www.audi4ever.com/v2/images/blog/3310/images/mein
%20Audi%20S3/2013/PCV%20Ventil%20Update/Audi_S3_PCV_2013_017.jpg
Figure 9: http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/attachments/diesel-
discussion/5116d1042665099-oil-coolant-recovery-img_1159.jpg

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