Seasonal car care planning and preventative maintenance can save you money and time as the weather changes.
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Timely maintenance does more than keep your vehicle running smoothly. It will save you money in both the short- and long-term because you are improving your vehicle’s trade-in value, getting the most out of its mileage, and preventing costly repairs down the road.
In addition to keeping cash in your pockets, performing routine maintenance and using quality products can help drivers stay safe through even the nastiest of conditions. Maintenance plays a big role in staying safe – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about one in eight crashes can be attributed to mechanical defects due to neglected vehicle maintenance.
To avoid costly repairs and ensure your safety, prepare for harsh conditions in advance by following a few simple guidelines:
- Tune-ups – Get a full engine tune-up, as outlined in your owner’s manual.
- Fix the brakes – Don’t postpone needed brake work. Avoiding brake repair can be extremely dangerous, and if you procrastinate, you may end up damaging your rotors and incurring considerably more repair cost.
- Get an oil change – Motor oil is the lifeblood of every vehicle. Replacing your current oil with a synthetic product that is specifically designed for longer oil change intervals helps to extend the life of your car.
Mid to Late Fall
- Inspect the battery – If a battery is older than four years, it may not work well in cold weather. When in doubt, replace it.
- Inspect filters, coolants and hoses – Make sure all filters (oil, gas and air) are in good condition. Inspect the coolant and thermostat to ensure proper engine warm-up, and make sure your heater and defroster work. Coolant should be changed every two years. Inspect for leaking or soft hoses and replace as needed.
- Emergencies – Put together an emergency kit containing gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter (handy for providing traction on slippery surfaces), tire chains, a flashlight and a cell phone. You may also want to put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.
- Tire pressure – Inspect tires for excessive wear and proper inflation. Be careful not to under-inflate or over-inflate tires. Low pressure increases wear and fuel consumption, while too much pressure can reduce traction, especially in icy conditions. As the weather gets cooler, your air pressure decreases.
- Icy windows and locks – Make sure to have window ice scrapers and de-icers available. Also make sure your windshield wipers and front and rear defrosters are working properly. A de-icer for door locks is also useful.
- Slow down – Do not exceed speed limits and keep safe driving distances. Unnecessary speedups, slowdowns and stops can decrease fuel economy by up to two miles per gallon. Avoid gas-wasting jackrabbit starts and pace your driving to help avoid the need for sudden stops, which is especially critical during wet and icy road conditions.
- Vehicle warm-up – To ensure proper engine oil flow and lubrication, allow your engine to idle for a few seconds before driving in cold weather, and drive slowly for the first few miles until the oil is fully warmed up. In addition to being good for your engine, this practice reduces emissions and saves fuel.
There’s no reason to put off what you can accomplish today – and why wait until it’s bitter out?Your car will be more reliable throughout the winter if properly cared for in the fall month.
Everyone knows that without gas your vehicle won’t run.
Most people also know that oil is important.
Engine oil lubricates, cleans, and cools critical parts of the engine. The oil’s additives also help to suspend dirt, where it can be drained at the next oil change. The life-blood of your engine, engine oil consists of various weight mineral or synthetic oils combined with additives for engine protection.
Oils may come in single or multi-grades and meet various oil performance standards. Multi-grade oils usually start out as single-grade base oils, such as SAE 10W. Then viscosity-index improvers are added to modify viscosity. The end result is an SAE 10W-30 oil capable of flowing like a 10W oil at cold temperatures and a 30W oil at higher temperatures. Check your owner’s manual to ensure you are using the proper grade of oil for your vehicle.
Most people neglect the other fluids in their vehicle, these include:
- Coolant /Anti-Freeze
- Power Steering
- Washer fluid
Brake fluid in the typical vehicle can become contaminated in two years or less. This is because the fluid absorbs moisture, which works its way through the hydraulic system. Under heavy braking conditions, such as those encountered in mountainous or hilly driving or when towing a trailer, moisture in the overheated fluid vaporizes (boiling point of water is lower than that of brake fluid) and braking efficiency is reduced. Brake fluid must maintain a stable viscosity throughout its operating temperature range. If it’s too thick or too thin, braking action is impaired. Car Care Canada recommends replacement every two years or 40,000 kilometres, but you should check your owner’s manual.
Coolants, also known as anti-freeze, must be diluted with water at the proper ratios and should not be used full-strength. Generally, standard ethylene glycol type antifreeze should be changed every two years or 40,000 kilometres, check you owner’s manual.
Power steering fluid is an oil specifically formulated for use in power steering systems. The fluid lubricates and transmits the pressure needed for power-assisted steering. Check the power steering fluid level at every oil change. Refer to your car’s owner’s manual for specific recommendations on the type of power steering fluid to use. Fluids need to be compatible with hoses and seals.
It is possible to check the power steering fluid level when your car is cold, but it’s usually recommended to check the fluid with the car warmed up. Many cars today use a semi-transparent reservoir for power steering fluid, so look for a fluid level mark on the outside. If the reservoir has no markings, open the reservoir’s cap. There should be a small dipstick attached that provides the level reading.
Transmission fluid serves a multitude of purposes. Among other things, it cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish build-up and protects the transmission on a day-to-day basis. There are several different types of transmission fluids and they should be used according to the recommendation in your car’s owner’s manual. Be sure to note if you have a
manual or an automatic transmission.
Clear viewing through your windshield is a critical component of driving safely. Motorists often underestimate the importance of wiper blades and washer fluid, until they are driving down the highway in poor conditions and cannot see properly. Windshield washer fluid is critical for on-road, on-demand cleaning of the windshield. Some vehicles also use a washer system for the rear window, and even the headlights.
It’s wise to keep the windshield washer reservoir full at all times with washer fluid. Running the system out of fluid can damage the windshield washer pump. Stay away from water, as it does not clean as well as washer fluid.
Article from CarCareCanada.com
A Note from Mark…
This month we are featuring “oil changes.” Why? Well there is a lot of talk and discussions going around the dinner table about “oil change intervals.”
There is a wide range of drain intervals from: 3 month/5000km to 12 month/24,000kms?
What has changed? Well oil quality is better, but filters are lot smaller! The fuel is worse with the higher percent of ethanol, engines are smaller, more complex, run leaner and hotter (for lower emissions) with Turbo charging, variable valve timing, cylinders on demand, V-tec solenoids, mutli-timing chains, valve train solenoids, Direct Fuel Injection. To get every ounce of power from a litre of fuel, most 4 cylinder engines produce more power than your Grandfather’s V-8 Buick ever did on a good day and on 1/3 the fuel and close to zero emissions.
So what is right for you?
Well I have modified the service intervals based on what we see in the industry. Our maintenance plans are designed to follow the manufactures service interval as a guide but also to get the car to last 10 years not just 3 or 4 while under warranty.
For example, our older clientele that perhaps drive a lot less and would never put on more than 5000k in a year, I recommend 2 changes a year at 6 months intervals, that way the vehicle is getting inspected, the oil is getting changed and they are safe and sound.
For our European and Import customers, some manufactures recommend 12 month/24k services. We suggest 4, 5, and 6 month services, due to sludge build up, and engine damage but depends on the make and model.
If you follow the suggested drain intervals by the manufacture you will be okay during the warranty period, but what about after? That is my concern with a long drain interval like 6 month/12,000kms or 12 month/24,000km.
We drive an average of 20,000 to 30,000kms a year, so by doing an oil service at a shorter interval would be like adding 1 extra a year? So is a $40.00 -$100.00 investment a year to make the engine last LONG after the warranty has expired worth it? I think so.