What can ruin a car engine?

Car engines are known to last for decades, but only if properly maintained. That being said, regular engine maintenance is essential, and should never be skipped. However, overheating an engine can exponentially shorten the lifespan of an engine, so much so that it can sometimes destroy it completely.

Besides overheating, there are many things we do that can slowly or rapidly ruin our engines, and in this article, you will learn what not to do with your engine. Firstly, do not drive your car with low fluid levels, especially oil or engine and transmission coolant fluid.

Cold starts can also slowly ruin your engine, especially so if you rev your car up to reach a more acceptable engine temperature. Poor maintenance is an obvious one, but there are many people out there who don’t even think about such a thing.

Finally, when you drive your car during heavy rain, you might ruin your car with excessive water. Even if the water levels are not all that high, there are so many things that can go wrong. However, if the water levels are up to your intake levels, this can demolish the engine in no time.


Pretty much everyone knows that you should never overheat your engine, but yet, many people still do. While it may seem ok after a couple of hours, every time you overheat your engine, you are irreversibly damaging it. Engine temperatures can soar to such levels that can even melt metal.

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However, your cooling system is there to cool the engine down and cleverly dissipate the extra heat. Sometimes, we drive our cars a bit too aggressive, so much so that the cooling system simply can’t keep up. So whenever you see your temperature gauge rising, tone it down, and if that does not help, park the car up.

Low fluid levels

Some car fluids are more vital than others, and hardly any of them are as vital as engine oil and engine coolant. The oil itself is tasked with lubricating all of the moving parts of an engine that would otherwise be damaged from constant friction.

Coolant fluid on the other hand is also extremely important as it helps to cool the engine down, without it, your engine is toasted. These two ought to be replaced every once in a while, otherwise, your engine might suffer.

Cold start-ups

Cold start-ups are known to damage your engine, your battery, and your alternator. As such, if you live in a climate that regularly experiences below-freezing temperatures, you should invest in an engine heater. They are affordable and easy to install, and they can help you keep your engine safe during cold winters.

Whatever you do, don’t rev your engine after a cold start. Many people believe that this will help you reach optimal engine temperatures, but this can also severely damage your engine. If you don’t have an engine heater, try to start your engine a few moments after you turn on the ignition.

Poor maintenance

This is obvious for most people, but for some, not so much. For your engine to work at its optimal capacity, you ought to follow the recommended service intervals. If you don’t follow this step, your engine is bound to destroy itself eventually.

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For example, spark plugs ought to be changed every once in a while, and if they are not, your engine is bound to misfire. Furthermore, your timing belt/chain also needs replacing, and if you skip this, your engine might even explode.

Hydrolocking your engine

Inside the combustion chamber, air and fuel are being compressed in order to create energy that propels your car. Air and fuel can be easily compressed because they tend to explode, but if water gets inside, your pistons are bound to break trying to compress water.

If the water levels are way below your intakes, potholes or oncoming traffic can send a wave that can easily enter the engine. Even if your engine manages to compress minimal water levels, this will put a serious strain on your pistons. Besides hydro locking your engine, excessive water is bound to damage much more than just the engine.

FAQ Section

Do I have to follow the manufacturer’s new car engine break-in period?

Many manufacturers these days recommend that you don’t hoon your car before it reaches a certain amount of miles. This is because the engine and many other vital car components have to settle in before you can drive your car a bit more aggressively.

The vast majority of manufacturers recommend that you don’t exceed 3-4k RPM for the first 1-1.5k miles. Diesel engines for example should be kept under 3k miles while petrol engines can reach up to 4k miles. You need to follow these instructions if you want to preserve your engine and other vital components for years to come.

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How do I know if a car engine runs well?

Be sure to check the service history to find out if the engine is properly maintained. Furthermore, if the engine starts easily, and it runs without any weird noises such as knocking, hissing, or rattling, chances are that the engine is in good condition.

Another great sign that an engine works as intended is a lack of weird engine exhaust odors or emissions. Good engines usually run at constant RPM ranges, and they also return constant miles per gallon. If you think that an engine is not working well, take it to an experienced mechanic.

What can increase car engine life?

Engines are not all that fond of short trips, so if you can skip driving your car on short daily commutes, it can extend the lifespan of your engine. Always use recommended synthetic fuel and try to keep the gas tank full or close to full at all times.

Furthermore, constantly check the spark plugs and air filters. Follow the new car break-in procedure and always take your car to an authorized service shop. Just do all the regular maintenance and don’t over-stress your engine.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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