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Pinto Engine Maintenance

Pinto Engine Maintenance
To start with, the pinto engine needs to be in good working order; if this is not the case, then this is your first objective. After this you can start using it and maintaining it.

The first part of establishing if you have a pinto worth maintaining is to perform a compression test. This will tell you how healthy your engine really is deeeeeep.... inside. It's a simple operation which when read carefully can shed light on many problems - if there are any - like worn piston rings, worn pistons, blown gaskets (...ouch!), leaking valves, holes in pistons, cracks in the block etc. if any of these are existing then the pressure reading will be low, or lower than specified, and the engine will likely require a major overhaul. If cylinder pressure is good on all cylinders then you have a beautiful white canvas to paint on...!


Your pinto engine maintenance is as follows:

1. Use decent quality, free-flowing and clean air filter/s

2. Replenish engine oil and oil filter regularly

3. Inspect all spark-plugs in regular intervals to ascertain combustion efficiency. There should be a light brown coating on the spark plug were it protrudes in the combustion chamber. Your Haynes manual will give you information on what might be wrong if the spark-plugs differ from the description above; such as black sooty deposits, oil contamination etc.

4. Contact breaker points. The points within the distributor must be renewed regularly to ensure a good spark is provided to the rest of the ignition system. Unscrew and disconnect the old set of points, replace with a new set, and with your feeler gauges adjust the gap as specified in your Haynes manual, then tighten the screws. A stroboscopic timing light comes in handy here - your Haynes manual will show you how to time and set the ignition using this marvellous instrument!.

5. Ignition leads/HT leads. These must be of good quality and again, renewed frequently, i.e. once a year

6. Valve Clearance. The pinto is notorious for a noisy valvetrain; this is exacerbated when there is an excessive gap between the valves and the rocker arm. This also leads to premature wear of these components. To cure this you must re-adjust this gap and set it to the manufacturers specifications - this is done when the engine is cool.

Checking and re-adjusting the valve clearances, involves locating the crankshaft in 2 separate positions in angle degrees; first rotate the crankshaft clockwise until cylinder no.1 (front of engine) is at top dead centre (TDC) which allows for checking and re-adjusting of 4 valves, and then, rotating the crankshaft clockwise for exactly another half revolution, until cylinder no.4 is at top dead centre which allows for checking and re-adjusting for the remaining 4 valves. Removing all 4 spark plugs during this operation makes turning the crankshaft much smoother. To turn the crankshaft use a socket-wrench on the bolt that retains the crankshaft pulley. Remember to turn clockwise (looking at the engine from the front).

7. Coolant/water. Keep the coolant toped-up with a mixture of anti-freeze and water. 50% - 50% is good, though it all depends in the climate were you live in. The anti-freeze is added to the water to prevent it from freezing in cold weather. The colder the climate , the more anti-freeze required.

The thermostat and radiator cap must both be in good working order. a) The thermostat must open fully when the coolant in the cylinder head reaches specified temperature; and must close fully when coolant in the cylinder head drops to the specified temperature, so as to keep the engine in, and around the correct operating temperature. b) the radiator cap has a pressure valve built in it; as pressure rises in the radiator, the valve starts to open and releases steam/coolant through a hose and in to the expansion tank.

You must occasionally check that these two components move are free moving , i.e. not jammed stuck! If you do this your cooling system will be in tip-top condition.

8. Cam-belt. The cam-belt should be renewed every 30.000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first. This involves some patience though, and attention as you will have to 'un-lock' the engine, replace the cam-belt with a new one , and then together re-time and 'lock' the engine at the precise point it was before.

A mistake here could significantly damage the engine; but do not worry though, just carefully follow your manual's instructions and you will do it.

If you do not renew your cam-belt as specified it could break and cause serious engine damage.


9. Use WD-40 to spray the entire engine and engine bay. This keeps the damp away and stops surface rust; it looks nice too..

An interesting little pinto engine story...

My next door neighbour Jim, is a taxi driver and has owned a few vehicles powered by pintos. He told me about a taxi he once co-owned with another driver which was powered by a 2000cc pinto.

They would work 8 hour shifts sharing the taxi which would be running non-stop for many hours each day; They used the taxi until it was completely clapped out! They went through 5 gearboxes but the engine would simply refuse to give up! He said by the time they got around selling the old taxi for spares, it had covered in excess of 500.000 miles!! This is an astronomical amount of mileage for a petrol engine of this type. "All it needed was regular oil and oil filter changes" he said.

The engine which was still running was sold for 100.00!

So.....I think this sums up your pinto engine maintenance... REGULAR OIL AND OIL FILTER CHANGES.
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