Service and fluid changes

By Ray Miles

Valley Bugler Columnist

This month I thought I would expound on following the factory maintenance manual for suggested service and fluid changes. At my shop, we see so many vehicles towed in for reasons that could very easily have been prevented had the owner just followed maintenance procedures.

What I believe is the underlying cause is people think that servicing a vehicle is expensive.

This thinking is absolutely backwards, as service work is really quite inexpensive, whereas, what I call “catastrophic repair” is REALLY expensive!

As an example, let’s use timing belt replacement. Yes, it can cost as much as $500 or more because generally a water pump is done at the same time along with seals as well, if they are leaking.

However, if the belt breaks or skips a few teeth, the outcome can be multiple bent valves and sometimes worse. All of this translates into BIG bucks. Another example is a simple tune up.

Even though gas engines no longer use points and condensers, they now have crank position sensors, cam phasers, and any number of electronic devices that often times need to be replaced and/or verified that they are performing their duties with precision.

All of this takes time, and as in any profession, time is money. On top of that, some of the newer engines use spark plugs that have a tendency to break off in the head when they are left in too long. This really gets expensive as well!

Manufacturers want to sell you a new car every 100k and often the maintenance intervals are also 100k. Add to that a 100k warranty and you can see why they want you to not do anything during this time.

If you really want to purchase a new car every 100k, then by all means do the least you have to do.

However, since almost all new vehicles have the ability to last 2, 3, or 400k miles with just a bit more care, it only makes sense to have various services performed on a slightly more regular basis.

Examples are fluid services such as the transmission or transaxle.

We have found that if transmission fluid is flushed and filter changed around the 30 to 40k mark that the component lasts significantly longer. The same for the engine; some schedules call for 8 to 10 thousand miles between services.

Granted, the fluids of today are far superior to fluids of the past, but no matter how good the fluid is, combustion by-products such as carbon, acids, and moisture still find their way into the sump. The only way to remove these contaminants is to flush the oil and replace the filter.

The bottom line is your vehicle is a major investment, often times second only to your home. It only makes sense to take care of and pamper your car with the love that it needs to provide you with a reliable vehicle for the longest time possible.

People in business measure everything by ROI (return on investment) and your daily transportation should be no different. The longer you own your vehicle and the more miles you are able to drive it before its end of life, the less it costs you per mile driven. Absolutely a win-win situation.

Happy Motoring, Ray

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