We’ve all seen that chump on the side of the road with his hood open and thumb out. We think to ourselves: that could never happen to me. The truth is, if you don’t maintain your car, it can and probably will happen to you. Skipping an oil change here, a coolant flush there – it adds up over time. Eventually, you’ll be the one on the side of the road with your thumb in the wind.
What are the main systems in your car that require routine maintenance and why are they important? We’re glad you asked.
Pretty much everyone knows they’re supposed to change their oil, but why? Because motor oil wears out over time. Eventually, the additives designed to protect the engine deteriorate and provide much less lubrication. Oil that is not changed will eventually form varnish and sludge inside the engine. Sludge sounds like a dirty word – and it is. Eventually sludge and varnish can lead to catastrophic engine damage.
Most people know they should change their oil – even if they put off doing so. The problem is, they often forget about the other fluids. This includes coolant, brake and transmission fluid. If you’ve got a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, you can also add transfercase and differential fluid to the list. All of these fluids are designed to lubricate, cool and protect parts of your car. Not changing them will leave you with a big repair bill. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended fluid change schedules.
Filters are important. They stop contaminants from entering into various parts of your vehicle. All vehicles have an air filter which stops particles from getting into the engine. Many also have a serviceable fuel filter which stops gunk from getting into your fuel system. Late model return-less fuel systems however, usually have the fuel filter mounted in the tank. These are not serviced unless repair is being done to the fuel pump. Old filters that need to be changed are visibly dirty. You don’t want all that debris to end up in your fuel system, engine or the cabin of your car, so be sure to change the filters regularly.
There is a belt – or in some cases multiple belts – that are driven off your engine. This belt runs things like the alternator, power steering pump, A/C compressor and water pump. If this belt breaks, it can leave you stranded. It may even cause your engine to overheat. But, that is nothing compare to the type of damage your timing belt can cause should it break. Many vehicles use a timing belt to keep the crankshaft and camshaft synchronized. This belt is located inside your engine. If it breaks, it has the potential to destroy your engine. The moral of this story is: read your owner’s manual and pay attention to when timing belt replacement is due.
Spark plugs deliver the spark to the engine that is used to ignite the air/fuel mixture, making your engine run. Spark plugs that are not changed on time can cause an engine misfire and hard starting. It’s even possible for the plug to cause engine damage if the electrode breaks off and falls into the engine cylinder.
Scheduled maintenance varies from vehicle to vehicle but is equally important no matter what model car you drive. There is only one way to be certain you are keeping up on maintenance for your vehicle: read the owner’s manual. It’s there in your glove box, buried under a heap of napkins and ketchup packets. Do yourself a favor and dig it out. You, and your car, will be glad you did.
- Posted by agency-it
- On March 16, 2016