Things to Know About Major Engine Damage - Toyota Service Information To Know in Salem, OR

Engine damage is something that nobody wants to have. It's inconvenient, frightening, and expensive. Fortunately, you can often avoid major engine damage if you pay attention to what's happening in your vehicle while also being aware of how you're driving it.

At Capitol Toyota, we want to make sure you have quality information about how best to take care of your Toyota car, truck, or SUV. With that in mind, check out these four common causes of major engine damage--and how to avoid them.

A piston with a snapped rod

4. Hydrolocked Engine

The pistons in combustion engines are designed to compress a mixture of fuel and air in the cylinder. Air is easy to compress, which is why this system works so well. Water, on the other hand, is incredibly difficult to compress. If too much water gets into the cylinders, the piston or related components like the piston rod will very likely break as it tries to compress it, especially at high RPMs.

One of the quickest ways to hydrolock your engine is to drive during flood conditions. Even if the water isn't quite high enough to reach the air intake, the water in a wake caused by another car could do the trick. It's also possible for a blown head gasket to cause hydrolocking--but more about that later.

Oil pressure warning light.

3. Low Engine Oil Levels

The oil in your engine plays a vital role. It lubricates the moving parts of the engine so they don't become damaged and overheat due to friction. If your engine doesn't have enough oil, the engine will eventually become damaged.

To avoid getting into a situation where you don't have enough oil in the engine, be sure to check your oil on a regular basis. In addition, if the oil pressure warning light comes on in your instrument cluster, don't ignore it. In fact, you should shut the engine off as soon as it's safe to do so when the oil pressure warning light comes on. This can make the difference between an engine that can be fixed and one that's damaged beyond repair.

A car's temperature gauge with the needle in the red.

2. Broken Timing Belt

Many modern engines are interference engines. This means that the pistons and the valves occupy some of the same space within the cylinders, though not at the same time. If the timing belt in your Toyota breaks, the pistons may strike the valves when they're open, destroying them. This is a fast way to suffer massive engine damage.

If your Toyota has a timing belt rather than a timing chain, the best way to avoid this problem is to make sure that you have it replaced when the owner's manual tells you to.

1. Overheating Engine

The combustion that goes on inside gasoline engines can create enough heat to melt and warp metal. Fortunately, the cooling system keeps this from happening by moving excess heat from the engine block and dissipating it. If your cooling system has been damaged, or if the head gasket has blown, your engine may quickly begin to overheat.

Typically, the best way to avoid an overheating engine is to pull over and stop driving. If you don't see a bunch of coolant dumping onto the ground, it may be better to simply allow the car to idle and perhaps even increase the engine RPMs while it's in park to increase coolant flow. If the coolant is dumping out under the car, go ahead and shut the engine off. Either way, a temperature gauge that reaches the red is a serious problem that needs an expert eye. We recommend having factory-trained experts take a look, and that's exactly who you'll find at our Toyota service center in Salem, OR.

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Capitol Toyota

783 Auto Group Avenue Ne
Directions Salem, OR 97301

  • Sales: 503-399-1011
  • Service: 503-399-1011
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