Preventative Maintenance

To minimize the cost of owner of vehicles, here are some tips from cradle to grave.

When buying a vehicle, be sure to check with Consumers Report. It is the most un-bias area to get knowledge on vehicles. Good information at a low price. The April edition is dedicated to new and used vehicles. Not only do they have tips on what to buy but also how to buy and what to avoid buying with the vehicle, the “extras”.

I have followed Consumer Reports on the last 5 vehicles I have bought and have not been disappointed. Not all vehicles are created the same. An investment of buying the magazine or on line web site with the 2-3 hours of research can and will save thousands of dollars down the road.

Set a routine on how you’re going to get it serviced. The owner’s manual has great information on when servicers are due and information on the vehicle. Keep in mind that oil servers are best to do a little more often as I have stated below. One of the most over sold item is air filters. It’s ok for some dirt to be in them, just shake out the large stuff and continue to use them. 15-20,000 miles in most conditions are fine with air filters. A dirty air filter in modern vehicles does not affect fuel mileage. Newer vehicles are much more maintenance free then older vehicles so reading the owner’s manual will be very informative.

Tune ups and newer vehicles are just not done anymore. Your vehicle will never need one, just replacement of worn or defective parts. Tuning use to referee to setting critical components to make the vehicle run correctly. Now, all these are handled by a complex engine control system including many sensors and an electronic control unit (ECU). If any of these components give problems, the check engine light of service engine soon light will come on. These sensors and ECU are very dependable. Very seldom does the ECU need to be replaced.

As mileage increases, problems and repairs will happen. Brakes need to be replaced, oil leaks may occur and suspension may start need serviced. Some vehicles have a system that tell you need brakes such as a light that comes on or a squealer that squeals loudly and consistently when needed. Some repair shops will keep an eye on you brakes during routine services and report back to you what percentage of brakes you have left so no surprises happen. Brakes wear out slowly most of the time. Brakes with 10-15 percent should be replaced. Even at that life, they are still stopping properly. Oil leaks are easy to monitor if you park inside a garage, you will have oil on the floor. Keep an eye where you park.

One of the oversold items is shock absorbers or struts. Be sure to get a second opinion on them if told they need to be replaced.

I have always recommended that you find your favorite auto shop and have them take care of it. If you are an gadget person, there are a few smart phone applications that make maintenance and costs easy to keep track of.

With proper research, good care, your vehicle should have a good life of 10-15 years or 150-200,000 miles.

Preventive maintenance: the confusion from different recommendations?

What kind of maintenance should modern cars have, and why should you do preventive maintenance at all?

With the cars of the 50’s and 60’s, tune-ups were done every 5-7,000 miles, coolant was flushed every fall and oil changes every 2,000, with engine life about 100,000 miles.

With today’s newer more precisely built engines, 300,000 miles is not unusual with regular maintenance. The question is, how does one maintain their vehicle for the fewest dollars per mile to drive it?

How often should oil services be done? Some manufacturers are recommending up to18, 000 miles on oil changes, other sources say every 3 months, or every 3000 miles.

Some manufactures are recommending that their transmission never needs service.

There are documented cases with Japanese and European car engines slugging up and needing major repair with under 50,000 miles, even though oil service were done in the prescribed factory times.

With lifetime transmission fluid, an instructor who worked for a major European dealership found that transmission life was doubled with prescribed maintenance.

Life time anti-freeze or long life anti-freeze has had its problems as well.

Preventive maintenance is the art of maintaining your car when and where you want to, increasing it’s life and dependability, decreasing the cost of ownership.

Oil changes done twice as often as the manufacturer recommends are advised. Servicing of transmission and cooling systems and brake fluid needs to be done at least every 40-60,000 miles to maximize the life of these components.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure or putting it to dollars, a dollar of care will save $50 of repair.


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