Car Maintenance like Changing Fluids, Filters, Belts & Hoses are what we will focus our discussion on.
Though service intervals on today’s cars are longer than ever before, they still require regular maintenance. That includes checking fluid levels, changing filters, and inspecting the belts and hoses.
MOTOR OIL MAINTENANCE
Today’s engines are capable of going 150,000 miles or more if the oil is maintained at the proper level and changed regularly. But many motorists never check their oil level, which increases the risk of running dangerously low if they put off having the oil changed too long or develop an oil leak.
Most engines should use very little oil (less than half a quart) in 3,000 miles. So if the dipstick is down a quart or more, it probably means that the engine is leaking or burning oil. Inspect the pan and cover gaskets, crankshaft seals and oil filter for signs of oil leakage. If none are found, you might recommend a vacuum test, compression test and/or leak down test to reveal where the oil is going. In most cases, worn valve guides and/or seals are the main cause of oil burning, but worn or broken rings or worn cylinders may also be a factor.
OEM-recommended oil change intervals have been getting farther apart in an attempt to reduce your car maintenance costs for vehicle owners. But as some motorists have learned the hard way, stretching the oil change interval too far ends up costing them a lot more in the long run. Toyota, which has been recommending 7,500-mile oil change intervals for some time, has discovered that some engines are slugging up because the interval is too long.
Under ideal operating conditions, motor oil may go up to 7,500 miles or more between changes. But most operating conditions are less than ideal: short trips, stop-and-go city driving, etc. Moisture builds up in the crankcase and causes sludge to form. That is why the aftermarket continues to recommend oil and filter changes every 3,000 miles, particularly for older high-mileage engines that have more wear and blow-by than new engines.
When changing oil, use the type and viscosity recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Most newer engines should use 5W-30 oil. A few European models now specify 0W-40 synthetic. Overhead cam engines need a light viscosity oil to provide proper lubrication following a cold start. For older, high-mileage push rod engines that have increased wear and clearances,
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID MAINTENANCE
Another fluid that few motorists rarely check is the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) in their automatic transmissions or trans-axles. If the dipstick reads low, the transmission is probably leaking. A low fluid level can cause delayed engagement, slipping and shift problems, and may contribute to premature transmission failure.
On most vehicles, the fluid level should be checked when the fluid is hot with the engine idling, the parking brake set and the transmission in Park. If fluid is needed, add only enough ATF to bring the level up to the full mark. Do not overfill because doing so can cause the fluid to become aerated, which may affect transmission operation.
You should also check the condition of the fluid. Some discoloration and darkening is normal as the fluid ages, but if the ATF is brown or has a burnt smell, it is badly oxidized and needs to be changed. Varnish on the dipstick is another indication of worn-out fluid.
You can also do a “blotter test” to check for worn-out fluid. Place a few drops of ATF on a paper towel and wait 30 seconds. If the spot is widely dispersed and red or light brown in color, the fluid is in satisfactory condition. But if the spot does not spread out and is dark in color, the ATF is oxidized and should be changed.
When adding ATF, use the type specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Honda, Mercedes-Benz and others all have their own specs for ATF. There is no such thing as a “universal” ATF that works in all transmissions. Some fluids meet a variety of specifications but cannot meet them all because of the different friction additives that are required.
Many transmission experts say that most transmission problems can be prevented by changing the ATF and filter regularly for preventive maintenance. How often depends on how the vehicle is driven. For some hard use vehicles, this might be every 30,000 miles or two years.
ATF also becomes contaminated with normal wear particles from the clutch plates, bushings and gears. The filter will trap most of this debris before it can cause problems. But many older Asian transmissions only have a plastic or metal screen that does little to protect the transmission against internal contaminants and nothing to keep the fluid clean. On these vehicles, changing the fluid is the only way to get rid of these contaminants.
checking engine coolant and belts. In the next post we will continue from coolant maintenance