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9 Tips From Mechanics To Keep Your Airplane In Great Shape

Mechanical problems rarely fix themselves in aviation. We spoke with a few aviation mechanics and want to share their best tips for how pilots can take care of their airplanes...

1) Preflight Your Carb Heat Carefully

If you're flying a carbureted engine, when adding carb heat during your run-up, verify the rise after the drop. Be sure the carb heat door is closing properly and not remaining in a rich operation.

2) Smooth Power Adjustments

Be nice to your engine! Avoid jamming the power in and out aggressively. Make smooth, firm power adjustments to keep your engine running cleanly without pressure or temperature spikes.

Markus Wichmann

3) Flying Near The Beach? Wash Off The Salt

Corrosion can happen quickly when salt water and metal meet. Clean off your airplane if you're flying around sea spray, or anywhere near the ocean.

4) Consistent Oil Changes

Changing the oil can make a difference in how engines run, how well the piston rings seal, and how clean the burn is within the engine. In our aircraft, the manufacturer recommends changing the oil every 50 hours. We change ours at 25 hour intervals.

5) Use The Correct Windshield Cleaner (And A Bugless Rag)

Since most GA windshields are made of acrylic and will scratch easily, you should never use Windex or paper towels. Always have CLEAN microfiber cloths on-hand with an approved cleaning spray like Plexus, All Kleer, or Clear View.

PRO TIP: When you're cleaning bugs off the windshield, do not press down hard when wiping. Use a lot of liquid to soften up the bugs. Then, simply brush them off, and switch to a new microfiber cloth if you get a lot of bugs on the cloth. Using the same, bug-filled cloth for the entire cleaning can result in numerous scratches across the windshield from the bugs' tough outer shell scraping against the acrylic. Unfortunately, we've learned this from experience.

Adam's Polishes

6) Go Easy On The Brakes

If you find yourself riding the brakes down the taxiway, make sure you're taxiing at near-idle engine speed. It will save you time and money to keep your brake pads in good shape.

7) Run Them, And Fly Them

Camshafts are particularly prone to corrosion if engines are not run regularly. If you have access to an airplane, make sure you fly it regularly. Nothing's more worthless than a grounded plane.

Boldmethod

8) Learn How To Lean Your Engine Properly

Leaning practices on the ground and in the air can make a big difference in a healthy, clean burning engine. Every manufacturer has a different name for these settings: best power may be called "recommended lean mixture" in a Cessna, and best economy may be called "peak EGT." Regardless of the name make sure you're using the correct leaning technique for your aircrat.

9) Have An Excessive Mag Drop? Get It To The Shop

This is one of the most regularly accepted irregularities by pilots. An excessive mag drop could be a number of things (bad rings, bad timing, bad magneto points, bad plugs, bad magneto leads, or loose connections). It needs to be investigated.

Boldmethod

Long story short: problems rarely fix themselves in aviation. Don't accept irregularities as being "normal". If you find something, get your airplane to a mechanic as soon as possible. Better yet, perform as much preventative maintenance as possible to stop problems before they become a hazard.

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Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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