An engine is like the heart of a car. It needs to run smooth in order to keep your car moving. I can't emphasize more on how important it is to keep the engine fit and functioning efficiently.
This is the least you can do. The engine oil keeps all moving parts well lubricated so that wear and tear is minimal. Also, it traps all the dust, dirt, and sediments, keeping them out of places they shouldn't be. Check oil levels every month and top up if the level is low. Oil grade and change intervals are subject to the manufacturer's recommendations. The oil filter is equally important as it filters all the junk from the oil and stops regulation back into the engine. This will ensure that you engine runs smooth and cool.
Even though we have come a long way in terms of efficiency of a car engine, a lot of energy is lost during combustion in the form of heat. Metals and alloys, which your car engine is made out of, are not very good friends with heat. Always ensure there is ample coolant in the tank as it is very important for heat dissipation. A 1:1 ratio of coolant and distilled water is ideal. Also, it's a good thing to look at the engine temp gauge on a hot sunny day and shut your car down in case it's close to overheating.
Short of breath? Feeling tired? Your car's engine needs oxygen as much as you do. A constricted air flow can cause the fuel to not burn completely, in turn increasing emissions and reducing mileage. Check the air filter and get it cleaned/ changed whenever you feel there is too much dirt and debris stuck to it. Your engine needs to breathe properly to function well and keep going.
When you pull out of the driveway, stop and look at the parking spot for any fluids on the ground. If the fuel is leaking, you should visit the nearest mechanic and get it checked. You can also check under the hood to see or smell something leaking. Engine oil and antifreeze are fluids you should look out for when checking for leaks.
Petrol contains sediments which settle at the bottom of your tank. Years of running and there will be definitely a layer of crap which shouldn't reach the engine. Running on low fuel pulls this junk into the fuel pump which could cause a lot of wear. Instead of just praying it doesn't reach the engine, top up your tank and save yourself repair/ replacement cost of the fuel filter and pump.
Rubber belts are essential links to keep everything in tune when an engine runs. If you hear a squeal coming from under the hood, it is time to replace them. You should check your belts for cracks and signs of wear even though they last a long time. But if they break while the engine is running, it can cause serious damage to engine components, “expensive engine components”!
This light is your car's subtle scream for help. Never ignore this and immediately get the car inspected by your local mechanic. It's basically a self-diagnosis which is put in place to protect your engine. It's not necessarily serious every time but you'll never know unless you get it checked.
It's similar to the oil filter but filters out junk from the fuel, prohibiting entry into the combustion chamber. A new filter means free flow of clean fuel to the fuel pump and engine. This ensures there is less build-up inside the engine and its thirst for fuel is quenched.
The spark plug acts as a fire starter. It ignites the air-fuel mixture in the cylinders and requires little maintenance owing to its long life span. Regular maintenance will ensure that the engine retains its spark. At times, they don't even need replacement. Some cleaning can be of great help as a lot of soot gets accumulated around the electrode over time.
Engines are engineered to run at constant speed. This is when they perform the best. Too much variation in the revs tires it out and this takes a toll. City driving, where you constantly move and come to a stop is really hard on the engine. Try not to rev too hard. Instead, be sure footed and don't over-accelerate when you know you have to stop again. Try sticking to the highway whenever possible. This will give you better mileage (now you know why driving on the highway results in less fuel consumption) and keep that engine running for longer.
These checks should keep your engine healthy and save you a lot of money in repairs/replacement/maintenance. The engine is the most expensive and complex part of your car. It demands good care and will return the favour by fetching a good resale value when you plan to sell your car.