Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:57 pm
This article will address the key issues of proper maintainence. Proper maintainence will help keep the car functioning well as well as save money on gas and other expenses, and it also contributes to safety, whether it is due to the proper function of safety-related systems like brakes and tires, or through good engine performance which is crucial for merging into fast traffic or overtaking, as well as reliability that prevents us from having to pull over in unsafe locations, or simply the better sense of security in driving a well operating vehicle.
It's best to check all of the relevant parts each week: Tire pressure, motor-oil, transmission oil, battery fluid, brake/clutch fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, washer fluid, coolant, a quick visual inspection of the flexible hoses and chains, and checking for dust or dirt on the glasses and lights of the car, and that the lights function. These checks can also posponed to once each month at most, which is still reasonable.
Tire pressure should be checked weekly, once every two weeks at most. It's even a good idea to check it twice a week and in a bike or rig I would check it each day, five to six days a week. The pressure should be checked cold with a reliable personal gauge which will be checked itself in each visit to the garage/tire shop. All four tires should be briefly checked visually before any time you enter the car. Spare tire pressure should be checked between each week to each month at most.
Brakes should be tested before each time you drive the car. First press them once or twice before turning the engine on, to get a feel for any kind of fade, frost or malfunction in the brakes. Start the engine and than press them a few more times for a second test, while letting the engine RPM stabilize and the moving parts get lubricated (which takes at least 15 seconds). Start rolling and than quickly press the brakes again to feel them when moving. Get into the habit of peforming these three brake tests each time you enter the car.
Visits to the garage
Take the car to garage, preferably each 7,000 miles or year, unless stated otherwise in the car's sheet (which you simply must read). Also visit the tire shop at least as frequently. In the garage, have the car inspected and replace whatever you need (oils, brake pads, etc...) and at the tire shop, get the tires removed, inspected, rotated, balanced as well as get the alignment, suspension and brakes checked, and check the accuracy of your personal tire gauge against the dials in the shop. Use a high-quality tire shine product on both sidewalls of the tires to keep them flexible.
Replace oils at least as frequently as the manufacturer recommends. Most modern automobiles drive too much in towns and cities and this results in short drives where the engine does not reach working temperatures and expeiences constant changes in speed, gear, throttle, etc, which all take a toll on the engine, transmission and their lubricants. Such "Urban" cars should have their oils changed before the recommended date, especially in hot regions or regions with dusty or polluted air.
Always go for full synthetic unless not possible. Don't mix oils. Don't use oil additives unless you need to and in that case only use reliable additivies.
Synthetic: Replace each 10,000 miles miles or each year and a half.
Semi-Synthetic: Each 7,000 miles or each year
Mineral: Each 6,000 miles or each year
Replace the oil early in the first time, because it will be full with metal chippings from the break-in of the engine (which has to be performed properly for the better part of the first 2,000 miles). After eight years or 160,000 miles, have the engine head and oil pan opened and scraped from sludge, and use a good oil additive and a good fuel additive to burn out soot.
Automatic Transmission Oil
Always go for full synthetic unless not possible. Check when hot.
Synthetic: 25,000 miles or two years
Semi-Synthetic: 20,000 miles or year and a-half
Mineral: 20,000 miles or each year
Manual Transmission Fluid
Always go for full synthetic unless not possible.
Synthetic: Each 35,000 miles or two and a-half years
Semi-Synthetic: Each 30,000 miles or two years
Mineral: Each 30,000 or two years
Check in each visit, replace each 40,000 miles or five years. A good oil additive can be very helpfull, too.
Power Steering Fluid
Preferably replace it each 70,000 miles or five years, A good oil additive can be helpfull.
According to recommendations, usually each two years or 30,000 miles or so. Never use just water.
Each two years or 30,000 miles.
Never use just water. Either use a special washer fluid or dillute such fluid or even soup in water. The wipers themsevles should last about one year, which could extend towards two years at most, or as early as six months.
Replace all four each 35,000 miles or three years or earlier. Replace the spare each five years at most. Keep all tires from a known brand and keep a simialr quality of tires all around the car. Don't purchase tires that were manufacturer a year or more, past the date of purchase.
Replace each 50,000 miles or four years.
All rubber tubes should be replaced after eight years.
Airbags and Seatbelts
Have them inspected and/or replaced after ten years.
Oil and Fuel Additivies
Do not use unless you need to. Most of these additives are inefficient and some can even do only harm. There are a few that are helpfull, either as an addition to the oil's ressistance to tear and lubricaton abilities, in the event of none-premium oil or low oil level, or as restortive additives that form a metaloceramic film of worn parts. Fuel additives are normally used to remove soot and can even be used each 60,000 miles if you really need to, provided that you use a quality brand.
Urban driving, which involves short drives on a cold engine are bad. Cruising down the open road (highways, B-roads) with the engine already at working temperature is desired. If the car spends at least 5% of the time/milleage or at least 800 miles or one hour per month driving out of town like this - it's reasonable. An engine will achieve maximal oil life and engine performance when the precentage of out-of-town driving is around 30% or more.
The same impact falls on the transmission. Automatics have their oil and wear increased by 30% for town driving, and this gets reduced when driving out of twon at least 15% of the time. Trying to drive more smoothly and avoid accelerating or stopping needlessly or any shifting into neutral can increase the lifespawn of the oil and transmission.
In a manual transmission, the effect is the same, but a bit less pronounced. Try to slow down with the brakes, not the gears, and to avoid unnecessary gearshifts. If you shifted up/down only to shift back down or up after as much as three seconds, you shouldn't have shifted at all. Shifting in frequency of about two seconds increases wear by 30%, where in each five seconds you recieve an almost full milleage from the oils and transmission parts, and with at least 10% of the time/milleage out of time you will achieve almost perfect milleage.
The engine should also be practiced through the whole range of RPM. Once the engine heats up, increase the RPM and once it's fully warmed up, push it to high RPM and push the gas pedal down hard for a total of ten minutes per month at least to burn off sooth from the combustion chambers.
Depending on your everyday driving, plan a long trip once every six months to two years. First drive the car slowly and gently, as always untill it gets up to working temperature. Than, increase RPM, speed and throttle pressure and once fully hot, work it hard in high RPMS and serious pedal pressure and than drive for two to two and a-half hours in a constant, low (around 3,000) RPM with relativelly constant throttle. This procedure will clean sooth like nothing else in the world!
After eight years or 160,000 miles, have the engine head and oil pan opened and scraped from sludge, and use a good oil additive and a good fuel additive to burn out soot and have the throttle body and step motor removed and cleaned and than replaced on the car.