Preventative maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your vehicle is operating at its best. A great benefit to regular maintenance is that it also allows you to be advised of any other issues pertaining to your vehicle and avoid further trouble down the road. Let’s take a look at some of these services and why they are important.
FLUID AND FILTER SERVICES
Fresh, clean oil flows through and lubricates and protects the internal components of your engine under normal operation. The oil filter traps debris, keeping your oil free from any particles that may damage internal components. Over time, oil begins to break down and thus provide less than optimal protection. Oil filters also begin to lose their ability to properly filter debris. For this reason, it is recommended to change your oil and filter on a regular basis.
Tires wear as you drive your vehicle. Unfortunately, they generally do not wear evenly. Most front wheel drive vehicles will have more wear on the front tires, and most rear wheel drive vehicles will have more on the rear. For this reason it is important to rotate your tires regularly (generally every 5,000 miles) to ensure that tire wear is even and thus extending the life of your tires.
Engine coolant not only protects your engine from extreme heat or cold but also lubricates and protects your engine and cooling system components (radiators, hoses, etc.) Though manufacturers may vary in type of coolant used (standard green, long-life, etc.) they all have certain properties like rust and corrosion inhibitors to keep your cooling system protected. Much like engine oil, coolant also breaks down over time. Not only do the corrosion inhibitors begin to deteriorate but the level of protection from overheat/freeze begins to deteriorate as well.
Brake fluid travels through many components of the brake system, including rubber hoses, steel lines, and hydraulic components such as calipers and anti-lock brake components. Brake fluid is formulated specifically to keep your brake system from excessive heat and protect from damage. Brake fluid also begins to break down over time and thus lose some of its protective properties.
Power steering fluid also contains specific components engineered to protect your steering system (pumps, gears, hoses, etc.) and also begins to break down over time. Clean fluid helps to ensure that these components are protected and operating optimally.
Transmission Fluid/Filter Service
Much like your engine, your transmission has many internal moving parts requiring a specific level of protection. Many transmissions also have a removable fluid filter that traps any debris and prevents it from travelling through the transmission. Over time, transmission fluid will also break down resulting in less than optimal protection. The filter also becomes filled with excess debris and should be changed. Some transmissions do not have a “serviceable” filter and only require a fluid flush. Clean fluid and filters are vital to the healthy operation of your transmission.
Transfer Case Fluid Service
Transfer cases (equipped on 4 wheel drive vehicles) also contain a specific fluid designed to protect internal components from unnecessary wear and should be changed periodically.
Differential Fluid Service
Differentials have many interlocking gears that require specific levels of protection to allow for these parts to easily turn and prevent damage. Some of these fluids have special additives required from the factory that ensure optimal operation. As with other fluids, these protective qualities break down over time and should be replaced.
OTHER GENERAL MAINTENANCE ITEMS
Air and Cabin Air Filter Service
We all like clean air, right? Well so does your engine. Your engine air filter traps debris and keeps it from entering your air intake system. This is vital, as a clogged air filter can greatly reduce your car’s performance. Cabin air filters operate much the same way, only for your ventilation system inside the cab. Over time, dust and other particles become trapped inside the filter reducing its effectiveness. Most cabin air filters are replaced about every 15,000 miles and engine air filters every 20,000. This can vary greatly depending on your particular driving conditions. For this reason it is important to have your filters inspected on a regular basis.
Wiper blades play a vital role in visibility. Because of changes in temperature, road debris, snow, etc. wiper blades can take a beating! Nothing is more frustrating than turning on your wipers only to discover that they create a streaky mess, or are very noisy. There is no specific replacement interval for wiper blades, however most need replacement within 3-6 months. Preventative maintenance for your blades can make all the difference when that big rain hits. Have your wipers checked regularly to prevent visibility issues down the road.
Spark Plug Replacement
When your spark plugs are operating normally, they provide the needed spark ignite combustion in each cylinder of your engine. These spark plugs have electrodes that wear down over time, and if not replaced can cause issues with your vehicle’s performance. Replacement intervals vary based on the kind of spark plug used in your vehicle.
Vehicle manufacturers offer recommended maintenance intervals for your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual for your specific vehicle needs. Your particular driving habits and conditions also determine what is best. Generally, the manufacturer will issue a “normal service” maintenance schedule and a “severe service” schedule. If you are unsure of what plan best fits your vehicle, come see us and we can help. We can help you accurately assess your maintenance needs and help you put together a plan that fits both your schedule and your budget.