Preventative Maintenance for Cars
With the hustle bustle of everyday life these days, the thought of car maintenance has become akin to going to the dentist and often remedied with a quick oil change – if we happen to think about it and have nothing better to do. But effective preventative maintenance goes well beyond regular oil changes, much less random, infrequent ones.
Preventative Maintenance – better now than never.
With automobile prices where they are today, it might be wise to slow down and spend more time taking care of your investment – your car. Preventative maintenance really does extend the life of your car, and rest assured, it can’t all be done in the time it takes to change the oil.
Items that need to be checked when the hood goes up should include:
The Oil: The oil should be changed in most passenger cars and light trucks every three months or 3, 000 miles (6 months or 5, 000 miles for some vehicles or when using full synthetic motor oil). Although the intervals can be stretched to as much as twice this under light use or when using synthetic oils, the savings are often questionable and if you are driving in the Texas heat, light use becomes a misnomer. After all, a few quarts of oil are much cheaper than an overhaul. Oil filters need to be replaced every time the oil is changed. The oil filter traps contaminates in the engine oil that would otherwise come between moving engine parts causing premature wear. A new filter is cheap insurance against major engine damage, so why take unnecessary risks? Another reason for replacing the filter every time the oil is changed is to prevent the contamination of the fresh oil.
The Fluid Levels: Coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, battery water and even the windshield washer fluid need attention. If low, fluid levels need to be topped off. And if unusually low, the corresponding system needs to be checked for leaks or other ailments.
The Filters: Air, fuel and crankcase breather filters need inspection as well. Don’t just rely on the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. Air filters need to be inspected regularly, especially in dusty climates, and replaced as often as necessary regardless of mileage or time. Dirty air filters can increase fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
For vehicles equipped with serviceable fuel filters, the fuel filter should be replaced annually and/or at every tune-up or as specified in the manufacture service interval. With a clogged filter, either the engine is starved for fuel or unfiltered fuel is allowed to by-pass the filter. The latter can be very damaging to the fuel injectors.
The Tune-up: Opinions differ as to what a tune-up should include but every engine should be given as thorough a check-up as possible. Replacing the spark plugs, fuel filter, checking various emission control components should be included in most “tune ups”. Automotive professionals generally recommend a tune-up every 30, 000 miles. If your vehicle has platinum spark plugs, they’re usually good for 60, 000 to 100, 000 miles or possibly more.