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The engine of your aircraft could be easy to inspect or difficult, depending on the design of the cowling (cover). Some slower craft don’t have cowling so the engine is hanging out there in the breeze. Many planes have cowling that is difficult to remove so your inspection will be limited to opening an inspection door to check oil and look around. Here’s the typical process:
- Find and remove the oil level stick following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Make sure you know what the “full” level and what the “add” point are; they’re not always written on the stick. As needed, add to the oil, but never above the “full” mark.
- Inspect the engine for signs of fuel or oil leaks.
- Look around for nesting critters, debris, or other problematic stowaways.
- Inspect the engine mounts, wires, and any other connections that could come loose in flight to spoil your day.
- Check the propeller and spinner (cover) for nicks and damage.
- Check the air filter for debris, and clean or replace as needed.
- Make sure the cowling and any inspection doors are securely in place.
- Inspect the nose wheel tire for proper inflation and the nose-wheel shock-absorbing system condition.
- Remove the nose-gear chocks (the wedges that block the movement of the wheel), and move them out of the path the plane will take to taxi out.
- Inspect the static source hole for blockage, typically located on the fuselage.
- Inspect the windshield and clean as needed.
Some airplanes have oil tanks with a sight gauge rather than a dipstick. It’s also possible you might fly a plane powered with a two-cycle engine (light-sport aircraft or ultralight) that mixes the oil with the fuel.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide