What’s the secret? Three words: maintenance, upkeep, upkeep. “Nobody reads the owner’s manual. Pretty much to make it run that way its fluids, timing belts, upkeep by the book,” explained Jim Moritz, global technical trainer for an international automotive tool and equipment manufacturing company.
These vehicle owners adhere to every word advocated by the automaker, for them it is a religion. In many cases, they are changing engine oil, transmission and brake fluids more frequently than required.
“I know men that are getting 300,000 miles from an F-Series pickup and 400,000 miles out of a Hyundai Sonata,” he explained. “There is no such thing as too much maintenance, you’re not going to damage it.”
Most importantly, read the operator’s guide to preventing thousands of dollars in repairs.
Assess the oil: The simplest task to increase the life of your vehicle is to maintain the proper quantity of oil from the motor. Additionally, change the oil and filter in the intervals recommended in the owner’s manual, as an example, every 5,000, 7,500 or 10,000 miles. Oil lubricates the motor parts. Secondly, oil is a fluid that disperses heat. Some of this oil is burned off by the motor so that it has to be replenished while the level drops. Make sure that it’s the proper weight oil for your engine. “A motor runs hotter with less oil in it. The hotter it runs the more pressure, stress that is put on the engine components. You could blow off the motor eventually, meaning it’s going to need to be reconstructed or replaced, so it is extremely costly. It won’t blow up if the motor is a quart of oil down, but if they start getting a few quarts down you can run into some interesting issues,” Moritz said.
Fight sludge: There is a big downside to short excursions, stop-and-go traffic, as well as long trips whenever there’s a heavy load on the engine, for instance, pulling a trailer. The enemy: Sludge. Sludge is a petroleum jelly that is a gooey, black-colored material that builds up within a motor. It is an important contributor to engine issues. Changing the engine oil at prescribed intervals or more frequently will lessen the probability of sludge buildup and prolong the life of the motor. Particular driving conditions can cause sludge. It can come from petroleum solidifying on a long trip at engine temperatures generally over 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Other offenders are brief excursions that stop the motor from reaching its proper operating temperature and water in the oil brought on by condensation. “It hastens everywhere in search. Sludge drops into the bottom of the oil pan. “Sludge does not burn away.” To avoid sludge, follow the operator’s guide for oil and filter changes or change to synthetic oil, which isn’t petroleum-based. Many fleets use synthetic oil.
Timing belt replacement: Your car’s engine has either a rubber composite timing belt or timing chain. If your car has a timing belt, then follow the owner’s manual to determine when the belt should be replaced. “Rubber belts break and when they do that’s the conclusion of the engine, it’s catastrophic, you are finished,” Moritz said. To avoid tragedy, the timing belt should be replaced at intervals recommended by the automaker, normally between 50,000 and 110,000 miles. The cost to replace the timing belt isn’t cheap but it is tens of thousands less than rebuilding the motor.
Check power steering Mature vehicles and some new versions possess a hydraulic power steering that is lubricated by power steering. The pump’s reservoir includes a screw-type cap that lifts off, or so the fluid level can be checked. If the pump runs dry, it can fail and take a replacement costing hundreds of dollars. A couple of symptoms of a power steering problem are squealing noises when turning the steering wheel or heavy or stiff steering. Newer vehicles have electric power steering; there are no fluids.
On the other hand, the fluid deteriorates over time. Under those circumstances, the transmission’s operating temperature climbs, placing a strain on the transmission’s elements along with the fluid. Automakers urge more common fluid replacement under those conditions. Check the operator’s manual for specifics. Signals of transmission problems: When the fluid turns dark or has a burnt odor this might be a sign that it needs to be altered or the transmission is growing mechanical issues. Check the fluid level once the engine is operating. To refrain from transmission failure only use the fluid recommended by the automaker. “I know a man who mixed fluid onto a Honda. His transmission lasted a week,” Moritz said.
Rust and corrosion can build up and harm an engine, plug a thermostat and damage a water pump. Some automakers urge a coolant change every 30,000 miles, some indicate over 100,000 miles. Again, check the operator’s manual.
Top off brake fluid: While you are under the hood checking fluids, it is a fantastic time to check that the brake fluid level. Place the vehicle on a level surface, then unscrew the reservoir cap. The brake fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum marks from the fluid reservoir. Utilize the automaker’s recommended fluid and add it to a suitable level. Fixing the brake fluid won’t increase the longevity of the brake system but it may save your life. Brake fluid absorbs water over time which degrades its effectiveness in providing stopping power. “A brake system isn’t perfectly sealed as you
may think so it is possible to get condensation from the change of cold temperatures to hot,” Moritz said. If you have an excessive amount of water from the brake fluid, then stepping on the brakes hard generates heat which in turn can boil the water in the line and consequently, increase the vehicle’s stopping distance.
Transfer case maintenance: This is a very expensive repair when things go wrong. The fluid inside the transfer case on all-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles must be replaced at prescribed periods.
Restart your tires: Tires are expensive, so you need them to continue. The owner’s manual will state if the tires should be rotated and alignment checked. Equally important is maintaining the proper air pressure for more miles out of each tire.
Have a clean motor air filter: A filthy air filter can decrease mph, hurt engine functionality and lead to high engine emissions.
No maintenance required
There are a few elements on automobiles which at one time demanded regular maintenance, but as a result of technological advances, there’s no need. Ball joints and steering linkage which at one time required lubrication, no longer need it; new spark plugs can last 150,000 miles and in a single time vehicle batteries (that are currently sealed for the elevator ) required the water level from the electrolyte periodically checked.