New Car Engine Basics

Here's what we're talking about:

1.  Watch the temperature gauge like a hawk.  There are numerous things that can make your car overhead. Leaky water hoses, broken radiator, radiator hooked up backwards, burp tank not connected right, air bubble, lack of air flow to radiator, low water, fans quit working, radiator relays go bad or intermittent, wrong engine timing, even undersized radiators.  Radiator problems are very common for the do-it-yourselfer who has never built a car before. Don't assume everything will be OK if the first 10min is OK.  One good check even before you go into the dunes for the first time is the good old YANK THE HOSE test.  When the engine is cold, with gloves, grab the end of each radiator line near the hose clamp and simple give it a good YANK.  This should be done at all 4 connections (2 lines).  The YANK TEST is a sanity check to insure all 8 clamps have integrity and are installed properly.  It's very important you watch the water temp gauge like a hawk for the first couple days to insure the cooling system is working properly and adequately.  WARNING....What usually happens is the euphoria of driving your new car the first time, feeling all that power and getting a taste of that awesome new long travel suspension totally overcomes your common sense to simply watch the water temp.  DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN !! 

2. Watch the Oil pressure gauge.  YES, get use to the pattern of your oil pressure.  You've got a new motor, get to know it's normal behavior so you can easily identify abnormal behavior when it occurs.  The oil pressure can tell you a lot about engine condition, it's the life-blood of your motor. Upon initially starting your Subaru motor it's not unusual to see 50 to 70lbs of oil pressure when it's cold.  If you have a turbo on the motor make sure you warm up the motor before you start blasting around at full boost.  After it's warm the typical oil pressure at speed is usually around 25-30lbs, and at idle it can be 10lbs. Watch the pattern of your oil pressure so you know "what's normal" and what's not.

3.  Watch the Boost gauge.  If you have a turbo system on your motor you need to become very familiar with your boost reading during full boost.  You will often be asked "how much boost are your running", and if you don't know this you really look like a dork.  DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN!  But the real reason to know your boost is so you know what's normal in case the car start feeling sluggish.  The turbo is one of the most expensive and high tech parts on a sandrail, watch it and treat it like gold.  Whenever you stop your car, let the motor run for 5 minutes so the turbo can cool off.  This simple routine can add a year of life to the turbo.  If you don't do this the oil in the turbo will fry are very high temperatures, get crusty and potentially terminate bearing life around the turbine shaft.  COOL IT properly and this won't happen.

4.  Listen for noises, learn how the motor sounds and memorize it.  Pay attention to how the car feels and responds.  You may think this is silly, but don't drive your car if it doesn't sound right.  Tow the car back if you're not sure.  We hear this all the time..... "Yeah, I thought I heard something but wasn't sure if I was hearing things or not". And there's the other folks that hear something but deny the possibility something could be wrong because they're having too much fun in the sand. Denial can be costly, and literally stupid.   Just remember, negligence can cost you 10X more than paying attention and investigating strange noises.  LISTEN AND PAY ATTENTION.

5.  CARRY A TOW STRAP, and don't be afraid to use it.  When something is wrong don't try to nurse it back to camp.  Get a buddy to tow you back, it can save you a bunch of bucks, trust me.  If you don't own one, buy one of those 25', 30' or 50' red tow straps that you don't have to tie a knot to use.  Those things are worth every dollar in convenience, reliability and ease of use.  The proof a wise duner is to be prepared, with tools and tow rope.  People break down, you can help.