When it comes to automobiles, proper maintenance is the key to a long term, trouble free relationship. All vehicles have mechanical and electrical parts that eventually break or wear out, but a little "T.L.C." goes a long way! We recommend you always follow your vehicle manufacturer's maintenance schedule as closely as possible, but here are some useful tips to help avoid breakdowns and major repair bills....
Tires are not only very expensive to replace, but they play a key role in your vehicle's safety. You should rotate your tires at least every 6,000 miles, and check the pressures regularly. Why? First, proper inflation helps the tire maintain the proper temperature / road surface friction, helps to prevent uneven or premature wear, and even affects ride integrity. Rotating your tires helps to prolong tire life, promote even wear, and prevent poor handling. Each tire wears differently due to the position on your vehicle, and there are many factors that cause these differences. For instance, as a general rule, front tires wear faster than the rear because most of the vehicle's weight is in the front, and because the front tires steer the vehicle, they contact the road surface differently as well.
It isn't uncommon for your brakes to last for 50,000 miles or more, as braking materials and the design and efficiency of vehicle braking systems has improved considerably over the past several years. However, your brakes can wear prematurely for several reasons, so proper use and maintenance is essential. Applying your brakes gradually and avoiding hard stops will help to prevent your brakes from overheating, which can lead to brake pulsation and excess wear. Pay special attention to any unusual noises when braking and any variations in stopping power. Also, take notice if your brake pedal suddenly feels "mushy", is hard to depress, or goes to the floor. Any of these symptoms could mean that your braking system is in need of repairs or adjustments, and the safety of your vehicle could be compromised. Having your brakes inspected yearly or when recommended by manufacturer will detect any issues before they get too serious.
A properly maintained cooling system is vital to your vehicle's overall health. Your cooling system helps the engine and transmission dissipate heat, and excess heat can drastically shorten the life of your vehicle. Your cooling system needs to remain clean and pressurized in order to assist the engine and transmission to operate at proper temperatures. Dirty coolant or cooling system leaks can cause overheating, and overheating causes excess fatigue to metal engine and transmission components. You should have your cooling system flushed as often as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, and repair any leaks promptly. Your belts and hoses are an important part of your cooling system too, and you should replace them when they become worn or weak. If your vehicle starts to run hotter than normal, have the cooling system inspected as soon as possible. If your vehicle starts to overheat, pull over to a safe area and shut the engine off immediately to prevent major damage.
Improper care of your vehicle's fuel system can not only lead to expensive repairs, but can also leave you stranded. One of the most important things to remember when it comes to fuel system maintenance is not letting your fuel tank level drop below 1/4 of a tank. Any impurities or sediment that is in the fuel you buy will settle to the bottom of your vehicle's fuel tank. Allowing the fuel level to get too low can cause that sediment to clog the fuel system. Also, many vehicles have an "in tank" fuel pump, which means the fuel pump is located inside of the fuel tank. The fuel inside of the tank helps to cool the pump and dissipate heat, prolonging the life of the fuel pump. If there is not enough fuel in the tank to keep the pump submerged, the excess heat will shorten the life of the pump. Another simple yet important aspect of fuel system maintenance is to use a fuel system cleaner every 3-6 months, or even monthly for better results. Fuel system cleaners not only help to dissolve dirt in the fuel, but they also help to keep your fuel injectors and fuel intake system clean and trouble free.
Engine Oil Changes
Your vehicle's engine could not run without the "cushion" that motor oil provides to internal engine parts. The clearances between metal engine parts are so small that the only thing that can be used to separate them is a liquid. Motor oil has both natural and chemical substances that act as a barrier between these internal engine parts, allowing them to move within the engine even though the clearance (distance) between the parts is extremely close, with some tolerances smaller then the thickness of a strand of human hair. So, in simple terms, the oil performs a service that is so vital to an engine that it simply could not function without it. However, oil breaks down and loses its ability to "cushion" these parts as time goes on, due to exposure to extreme heat, dirt particles and other contaminants. If the oil cannot do its job properly, the integrity of the metal surfaces of internal engine parts are compromised, which can lead to poor performance, oil burning, and premature failure. Changing your oil every 3,000 - 5,000 miles is best, but you should consult your vehicle owner's manual for specifications on service intervals and oil weight / type requirements.
Did You Know...
We all know that when you purchase a new vehicle from the dealership, it comes with a manufacturer warranty that is honored by dealerships nationwide. In order to uphold your end of the warranty agreement, you must perform the manufacturer's required maintenance at the recommended intervals stated in your owner's manual or maintenance guide. However, you can elect to have those services performed at the shop of your choice, you DO NOT have to return to the dealer to have maintenance work performed. It is actually against the law for a dealership to require you to have any paid maintenance services performed at their service department. Only if the dealer offers you free maintenance can they tell you that it has to be done by them, but, you do not have to accept their offer of free services if you prefer not to. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at www.ftc.gov and search for the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act for more information.