Checklist Before First Startup for a Freshly Rebuilt Engine

The AERA Technical Committee offers the following checklist of questions and suggestions to be asked before the first engine startup on a fresh rebuilt engine. These questions and suggestions are to be used along with both of AERA‘s printed handouts, "Suggested Engine Installation Procedures" and "Instructions and Break-in Procedures for Remanufactured Engines." Using these materials will provide useful information to an installer, so they can deliver a vehicle that will provide long life and good performance.

The minimum tools to have on hand before attempting installation of the engine are as follows: safety glasses, fire extinguisher, vacuum / pressure gauge, timing light, digital volt-ohm meter (DVOM) and miscellaneous hand tools.

Before you turn the ignition key, ask the following questions, using this sheet as a checklist and record responses or check off as required. It is suggested to make copies of this checklist after completing it and keep for your records. The customer may also like a copy.

  • Did you fully charge the battery?
  • What is the oil pressure during pre-lube?
  • Is the engine oil level full with the correct weight oil?
  • Is the entire set of vacuum hoses correctly connected? Hook up vacuum gauge.
  • What is the initial ignition timing? Leave timing light hooked up.
  • Is there fresh gasoline in the tank?
  • Is gasoline up in the carb or do you have fuel pressure EFI?
  • Was the coolant checked or changed?
  • Was the radiator checked, replaced or repaired?
  • Is there a fire extinguisher handy and fully charged?
  • Are all of the accessory drives and belts free of any interference?
  • Is the exhaust system in place and completely bolted together, so you can hear any possible engine noises? Install a pressure gauge to check exhaust back pressure.

Check After Starting The Engine:

  • What is the RPM and cold oil pressure? Do not Idle Engine! Mark it down now.
  • Is the engine valve train quiet? Some engines take a few minutes to quiet down.
  • What is the vacuum and engine RPM? Mark it down now.
  • What is the RPM and ignition timing at now? Mark it down now.
  • Are there any gasoline, coolant or oil leaks? Stop the engine and fix it.
  • Check coolant temperatures and oil pressure OFTEN!
  • Is the charging system working? Real important on cars with an ECU.
  • Did the coolant level drop? Top it off with the correct 50/50 coolant mixture and don’t just add water to the radiator.
  • Do you have glowing cherry red exhaust manifolds? Advancing the ignition timing should cool off the exhaust gas temperature. Check for vacuum leaks.
  • What is the RPM and hot oil pressure after running for a total time of 30 minutes? Break-in could be done in 10-minute segments at a time adding up to a total of 30 minutes. This allows the camshaft and flat lifter to break-in.
  • What is the total mechanical ignition timing with the vacuum advance unhooked? If not within specifications, repair before driving vehicle.
  • Does the vacuum advance (if equipped) function properly and is it connected to the correct port? Improper ignition advance causes derivability and engine problems.
  • Is the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) working properly? The EGR system cools the combustion chamber by changing the air/fuel ratio. The added EGR displaces air which richens the air to fuel ratio and eliminates pinging

The AERA Technical Committee