Thursday is Valentine’s Day and your car does not want Candy or Balloons. Instead it will appreciate some love in the form of any preventative maintenance services that may be due or simply checking vital fluids, filters and tire pressure. It is a simple fact that vehicles wear out with use. The good news is they take much longer to wear out if they are shown some love and are properly maintained, ultimately leading to fewer expensive break-downs.
Regular oil changes are a good place to start. It is true that many manufacturers say that it’s all right to go up to 7,500 miles between oil changes, but that’s recommended only under ideal conditions. They also describe “severe conditions” in which the oil has to be changed more frequently. Many people might be surprised to learn that the conditions they drive under would qualify as “severe.” These include frequent stop-and-go driving (includes rush hour on most freeway/expressway routes), driving in high ambient temperatures, driving frequently over hilly terrain, driving in dusty conditions, or frequent high speed or loading conditions. Under such conditions, the oil change interval is lowered to around three months/3,000 miles.
Using the red “oil pressure warning” light (not to be confused with the oil change interval light) as a signal to change the oil is a bad idea. By the time the light comes on, severe damage to your engine may have already occurred.
The best starting point for establishing routine maintenance intervals and procedures for your particular vehicle is your owner’s manual. You’ll notice that it usually specifies a lot of “inspection” procedures. That is the key to good, low-cost preventive maintenance. Inspect and repair as needed.
Even vehicles touted to have 100,000-mile tune, transmission fluid and coolant change intervals still need to have routine inspections performed. The owner’s manual will reveal the same needs as other vehicles, such as checking the belts and hoses, braking system, steering and suspension, electrical system (especially the battery), and so on. Besides, remember that the “severe conditions” description may apply and affect the actual time a tune and fluid change will need to be performed.
- Look at the owner’s manual beforehand and get a good idea of what your vehicle is going to need.
- If you’re not sure of the maintenance history of your vehicle, ask for the basic maintenance inspection, and to be advised of any other repairs recommended after inspection.
- Listen to the customer service pro, and don’t be reluctant to ask pertinent questions about indications of wear and tear to anticipate future preventive maintenance.
- If you wish to have your car serviced at an independent facility, make sure that it’s licensed to do auto repair, and that you keep a copy of the invoice and receipt for your records. This will help prove the vehicle has been properly maintained in case you ever need to make a factory warranty claim.
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