We all know somebody with an older, high-mileage vehicle that just keeps on running year after year. You might be wondering; “What’s their secret?” Regularly scheduled maintenance and lubrication using the manufacturers recommended type and formulation of oil, grease and fluids is what will give you the best results. Wear-and-tear on parts such as belts or hoses is normal. You should replace them before they fail. Taking good care of your vehicle keeps it looking good, lasting a long time and being a reliable machine.
Advertising will tell us over and over that all we really need to do to keep that car or truck running forever and looking brand new for years is to add a bottle of miracle liquid into the engine oil, sprinkle magic dust on the paint, or spray some sort of ionized wonder water on the interior. Unfortunately this is not the case.
The secret to keeping your vehicle going strong is regular fluid checks and an almost pious dedication to scheduled lubrication. The type of oil, brake fluid, and grease used is just as important as when it is changed. The best oil in the world will do your engine no good if you never change it. Cleaning and protecting the finishes of the vehicle inside and out will keep things looking good. Paint, plastic, leather, and fabric need help to survive the constant assault of sun and other elements. Utilize both of these plans together and you will enjoy happy motoring for a good, long time. Follow the accompanying 10 handy tips for keeping your vehicle in top shape.
Engine oil: No single step will help an engine last more than regular oil and filter changes will. Today’s engines have extended oil change intervals, which is not perfect for everyone. Your Aunt Hilda who drives only 2500 miles per year should not go 4 years between services. Also, some of these engines may consume some oil. 1 quart every 2000 miles is not considered excessive, however, on a 4 or 5 quart capacity system the engine can be damaged before it reaches the recommended service interval. We recommend 5k-10k intervals on most of our customers cars - BUT monitor the oil level between changes. In summary, never exceed the manufacturers recommended intervals and in some cases like Aunt Hilda, it may be much sooner.
Cooling system: Today’s engines use an extended life coolant or antifreeze. Flush the cooling system and change coolant as per manufacturers recommendations, usually every 3-5 years. A 50/50 mix of the correct coolant and distilled water will keep the cooling system in good shape and prevent corrosion and deposits from building up inside the cooling system. A regular inspection of the belts, hoses, radiator etc can greatly reduce the chances of a breakdown.
Change out transmission and differential oils. While not requiring frequent service, these fluids must be changed according to manufacturer service intervals. Always use transmission fluid or gear oil of the recommended type and viscosity.
Keep it clean. While washing the outside of the vehicle is obvious, NEVER use dishwashing liquid, most everything the vehicle ran over can also get stuck to the underside. Hosing off winter muck and road grime is a good idea (some drive through car washes do a pretty fair “belly” wash).
Everything with moving parts needs lubrication to survive. Most modern vehicle parts are “lubed for life”, however we have found that means the life of the part, not the vehicle. Many vehicles are not getting the fluids checked and lubricated when required.
Brakes: Have your brakes inspected when the tires are rotated, as they must be replaced when worn to specified service minimum thickness. A common complaint is a brake pulsation, where the car and or the steering wheel will shimmy when applying the brakes, most commonly at highway speeds. This is caused by warping or runout of the brake rotors. Many manufacturers recommend your brake fluid to be changed at 3 year intervals. We recommend changing your brake fluid more frequently because brake fluid is hygroscopic meaning it tends to attract and hold moisture, which corrodes the metal parts of your brake system. And brake fluid is very inexpensive compared to replacing your brake calipers, and brake sensors.
Wiper blades: We recommend replacing your wipers annually, in the fall. Also make sure your washer fluid is ‘topped off’ before winter driving.
Tires: Proper inflation is crucial to tire life and vehicle handling. If the vehicle has the stock tire size and load rating the correct pressure specs will be on a sticker on the door jamb - do NOT use the stamping on the tire, this is the maximum inflation for the tire, not for your vehicle. The age of the tire also affects its reliability. Most tire manufacturers recommend 6 years as a guide. Certainly a tire over 8 years old is at risk for failure . Usually tires will fail at highway speeds on hot days. To improve tire life, rotate them every 5-6000 miles and routinely check for abnormal wear, or cupping, which may indicate an alignment or suspension problem.
Interior: Protect the interior plastic by parking the vehicle in the shade, using a window deflector screen, and applying a UV protectant to prevent the plastic and vinyl from drying out.
Exterior: Nothing keeps paint looking good and protected like a coat of quality wax. Apply wax annually, more frequently if parked outdoors. Ever get tar on the sides of your car? Spray a little WD-40 on it, let it sit and it will clean right off.
The Auto Shop
129-A East Orangeburg Ave
Modesto, CA 95350
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