Most people think that by changing the oil on a regular basis is all the Preventive job Maintenance their vehicle needs. This mind- set has been common in most drivers for decades, but today’s vehicles require much more than just a quick lube, oil and filter change. Preventive automotive maintenance is key to having a vehicle that will last for years.
Let’s take a look at what most vehicles require to maintain to operate at factory levels. Oil changes are usually every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on the type of oil used. Some of the European vehicles such as BMW’s or Mercedes recommend up to every 10,000 miles based on driving conditions. By keeping clean oil in your engine, you reduce the friction caused by all the moving parts, Which in turn reduces wear and tear on those moving parts. By changing your oil when recommended, it helps to prevent sludge build- up inside the engine. Sludge can cause all kinds of issues to the internal parts of an engine. Changing the oil is just the beginning to keeping a smooth running vehicle.
Transmissions have fluid in them as well. It basically does the same thing engine oil does for your engine. Transmissions have internal parts that need lubrication to reduce friction and build-up just like the engine. Most manufacturers recommend changing this fluid between 30,000 to 50,000 miles. There are some vehicles that have life-time fluid. Some Volkswagon vehicles have a lifetime transmission fluid that only needs to be replaced if there is a shifting issue. The easiest way to determine the service intervals for a specific vehicle would be to refer to the owner’s manual or ask your repair facility.
Your coolant level should be checked regularly. Low coolant can cause the engine to overheat which can result in severe engine damage. Be careful when adding to your vehicles cooling system. Most newer vehicles have coolant specifically designed for that manufacturer. For instance, you should not add regular green anti-freeze to a Jaguar that requires an extended life anti-freeze. Mixing the two types will cause damage to the cooling system and could clog up the radiator. Most manufacturers recommend coolant to be replaced between 50,000 to 150,000 miles depending on the type of coolant used. As always, check your owner’s manual for specifics on that recommendation.
The battery is the power source for your vehicle. On average, they will need to be replaced every 4-6 years. Regularly checking the charge is recommended. If you leave your lights on and drain the battery multiple times, it can cause it to fail sooner. Keeping your terminals clean of corrosion can help maintain a constant power supply. Testing the charging system about every 6 months should be good.
Most front wheel drive vehicles have timing belts. Unfortunately, there is no way to visibly check this belt. Its function is to run the camshaft and crankshaft for the engine. Typically, these belts are recommended to be replaced between 60,000 and 80,000 miles. This is one of the Predictive job Maintenance items you do not want to ignore. If this belt breaks it can cause the engine to “jump time” and bend valves, causing severe damage to the top end of the engine.With most timing belt jobs, the water pump is recommended to be replaced as well. Either way you go, it is a critical step in preventative maintenance to have the belt replaced.
There are lots of other things that are routinely recommended by your manufacturer to be serviced or inspected. Always check your Owner’s Manual for the correct intervals and maintain your services to ensure a smoothly operating vehicle. As always, keep records of all repairs so you know what has been done and what you still may need. If you perform your regular services, you can extend the life of your vehicle dramatically.