The most common engine problems and how they affect the life of the vehicle

What to do to avoid low speed pre-ignition and minimize timing chain wear.

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Having the car in good condition can be a difficult task if we are not attentive to the main problems that may arise over time. A vehicle requires attention to prevent mechanical damage that leads to difficult-to-fix complications.

Among the most common, but less known, we can mention the low speed pre-ignition or commonly called LSPI for its acronym in English (Low Speed ​​Pre-Ignition). Basically, they are detonations that occur in gasoline engines with direct injection. It consists of involuntary and uncontrolled self-ignition of the fuel-air mixture in the engine, prior to spark ignition.

Engine maintenanceWe say they are premature ignitions because they occur just before the piston reaches its top point. It is important to mention that LSPI is a common problem in turbocharged engines, which is present in all modern diesel engines.

Another mechanical failure to take into account, if there is no proper maintenance, is the timing chain wear. Its main task is to run the engine efficiently as it governs the valve timing and timing cycles of the engine.


The repetition of pre-ignition events at low speed can cause serious problems of breakage of parts and high formations of sludge and varnish since it happens randomly when the piston is ascending towards the top dead center.

Engine maintenanceThe most common damages are loosening of connecting rods, rupture of the compression ring, damage to the oil recovery ring and damage to the piston head.. It is advisable to be vigilant since any of these inconveniences can occur in the short term as a result of very few repetitions of pre-ignition.

Regarding the timing chain, although it is designed so that it never has to be changed in the life of a vehicle, it is inevitable that over time it will suffer wear and tear causing it to loosen and that it has to be changed every certain amount of kilometers traveled.


Proper maintenance is accomplished by using a lubricant that meets the specification required by the manufacturer, performing the oil changes at the times specified in the manual, replacing the filters and keeping the crankcase oil level within the range established on the dipstick.

Engine maintenanceTo minimize the chances of low speed pre-ignition and keep the timing chain in good condition, it is convenient select products that comply with the standards incorporated into the market to protect the engine of vehicles. In this sense, it is important that the fluids and lubricants meet the indicated standards, which guarantee the protection that the engine needs.

API SP and ILSAC GF-6 standards They were introduced to the market in May 2020 and bring new advantages in the durability and protection of engines and provide solutions to the main problems that arise in gasoline, direct injection and increasingly compressed engines.

In this regard, Petronas is committed to researching and developing products that comply with current regulations to provide greater safety and better benefits to the needs of the most modern vehicles. To this end, it incorporates the API SP and ILSAC GF-6 standards to its products. Petronas Syntium 7000 Hybrid y Petronas Syntium 3000 XS.

Engine maintenanceAPI SP is backward compatible with API SN +, API SN, and earlier. The main improvements are LSPI protection, timing chain wear control, better wear protection and, of course, fuel economy.

Resource-conserving API SP matches ILSAC's GF-6A by combining API SP performance with improved fuel economy, protection of the emission control system, and protection of engines operating on fuels containing ethanol up to E85

While ILSAC GF6 adds to the API standards the reduction of energy consumption. GF-6A for SAE 0W20 grade and above and GF-6B applies only to oils with a SAE 0W-16 viscosity grade.

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Automundo is the blog about news from the automotive industry, motorsport and the culture of the region. Director: Diego Durruty.

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