Engine Checklist

Engine Checklist
by Don Terrill © -

Weekly Maintenance:

1.) Check valve springs – The weak link in a current day racing engine is the valve spring. Buy a tester that can check them on the engine—Moroso makes one.

2.) Set valve lash – While you’ve got the valve covers off to check the valve springs, you should also check the valve lash. The best way is with the engine hot, but if you know how much the lash changes from hot to cold, you can do it without warming the engine.

3.) Inspect oil filter – If you have an inspection type filter (like an Oberg), you can just pull it apart and check for debris. If you have a standard paper type filter, you’ll need to get a filter cutter to inspect the inside. Anything larger than metallic paint flakes should be of concern.

4.) Set ignition timing – Everyone knows how to set their own ignition timing, but the mistake people make is doing it with the engine cold. The difference between a cold and a hot engine can be as much as three degrees of timing.

If you think there is a problem:

1.) Check spark plugs – This is the first thing I tell people to do if they think they’ve got a problem. Pull all your plugs out and take a look – it will be obvious if one cylinder is having a problem.

2.) Do a leak-down test – If you think your engine is down on horsepower a leak-down test may help you locate the problem. It will find blown head gaskets; broken or stuck valves; and bent or burned valves. If you’re missing a lot of power you’ll need to see over 20% leakage.

3.) Inspect oil filter – Same as your weekly maintenance. If bearing problems are caught early by checking the filter, you may save thousand of dollars in repairs. A spun bearing will give little warning—if you think there is a problem, check the filter (it will be obvious).

4.) Check drain plug – If you’re at the track and don’t have a way to inspect your filter, the next best thing to do is check the magnetic drain plug (You do have one, right?).

5.) Inspect valvetrain – Check the valve spring pressure; valve lash; look for broken coils on inner or outer springs; broken rocker arms; missing lash caps or; broken or bent pushrods.

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