Long term reliability of your vehicle can be maintained best by a few basic rules.

 

Watch your instruments

As important as your speedo is to stop you from getting a speeding fine, a speeding fine is miniscule compared to the cost of an engine failure due to overheating or lack of lubrication. Temperature and oil pressure should be monitored every time your speed is checked, an engine seizure or total destruction can occur within 1-5 minutes of a loss of oil pressure or coolant loss, both of these situations can occur suddenly, without warning, and if stopped and repaired immediately can usually be rectified very cheaply. A simple thing like a 10 cent sump plug washer may fail, even days after just being serviced, resulting in a bill of $2,000 to $3,000, remember, it is the owners responsibility to maintain coolant and oil levels, and the repairers responsibility, to repair faults brought to their attention.

Listen, look, smell.

Similar to your gauges, an unusual sound, smell, of evidence of smoke or steam, may be a warning of a serious mechanical failure. Grinding sensations from the brakes may mean you have run out of friction material and metal to metal contact will result in higher than normal repair costs, and possibly unsafe looming hydraulic failure. Vibrations or unusual noises may be indicators that a mechanical device is bent or causing run out, once again to continue to drive with these indicators will normally result in further mechanical failure, which could have normally been avoided by stopping at the onset of the warning fault. What may have originally been a simple repair of the offending part such as a simple machine disc, can result in replacement of disc rotors, replacement of disc calliper parts from a simple $20.00 repair to $500.00 or more, a noisy gearbox initially could mean the cost of a set of bearings, approximately $600-$700 dollars, if the noisy bearing fails completely replacement gears or more could cost well into the thousands. If you have pain in your chest you don’t keep going you see a doctor, if your car tells you its in pain, the same common sense should prevail, A taxi fair and a tow does not equal thousands of dollars worth of avoidable repairs.

Regular checks

Most vehicle manufacturers pass a small degree of care to the operator, these can be found in your handbook, Daily checks,

Engine coolant level

Engine oil level

Weekly checks

Tyre pressure including spare

Brake fluid level

Windscreen washer fluid

 

Follow general rules of maintenance for basic oil change service

10,000 km or 6 months whichever comes first, note the emphasis on whichever comes first. Under severe driving conditions, go to 5,000 km or 3 month services whichever comes first. The general rule will vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but has been designed basically around the ability of your engine oil to maintain its lubricating properties under normal operating conditions.

Each individual service schedule designed by the manufacturer, best suits that particular vehicle under normal driving at normal temperatures with minimum dust, these conditions are rarely attained. New vehicles up to approximately 50,000 km seem to follow this pattern fairly well, but between 50,000 –100,000klm start to part ways with the set rules of maintenance and variables take over, Australian climate being a large factor, dust conditions found as we move away from the coast cause air filters to clog, resulting in poor fuel economy and advanced break down of engine oil due to higher carbon output.

Some fuel suppliers of late have come under scrutiny for suspect mixtures of fuel, but also cleanliness of fuel can never be totally guaranteed, the results can mean premature failure of fuel filters and electronic injection devices, although not as life threatening to the engine as the oil, fouling up of these devices prematurely can be expensive. Areas such as brakes, shock absorbers, tyres, suspension, should all be monitored at these regular maintenance services. Items listed so far are all distance related and normal routine maintenance will address all these issues. Other items requiring regular maintenance, but are time relative, are engine coolant and brake fluid. The coolant in your engine these days isn’t just water, or definitely shouldn’t be. Engines these days are built to run at much higher coolant pressures, resulting in the ability to run higher temperatures and more efficiency, chemical based coolants help effectively maintain even temperature, most are glycol based offering engine protection under winter or summer conditions, and most importantly they contain a corrosion inhibitor, this stops the chemical reaction in your engine from eating away at the aluminium cylinder heads and radiator cores, unseen until its too late (basic cylinder head core cost approximately $800.00).

Most good brands of coolants have a life expectancy of 2-3 years but then rapidly break down reducing its ability to protect the alloys in your engine, a safe margin to service the cooling system is approximately every 2 years regardless of mileage. Never mix coolants; different brands may have different compositions not compatible causing more problems than protecting. If in doubt, and coolant needs to be added, just add water, distilled preferred, until the coolant can be identified and or flushed and replaced and the reason for the loss detected and repaired. Brake fluid again is a very neglected service item, once again a glycol based chemical, with the characteristic of absorbing moisture from the atmosphere, over time brake fluid becomes more water saturated causing rust in internal brake components, costly premature repairs, or even worse reducing brake efficiency to an unsafe level. Flushing brake fluid every 12 months is ideal, but fluid should be left no longer than 2 years maximum.

Service schedules for your vehicle as it begins to age, need to be more individually catered to the particular vehicle and the conditions it operates under.

Here at Apps Automotive, particular attention is given to the condition of all fluids, a lot can be learnt from just the waste oil removed during a service, thickening and sludging of oil maybe an indication of extending oil change periods too long, or incorrect oil being used, or other factors such as over fuelling can result in the same premature brake down of oil. All factors need to be identified to reduce the chance of premature engine failure. The simplest of basic oil changes can increase the engine life dramatically. The type of oil used is very important, unfortunately, too many workshops these days carry one oil to suit all engines, this is playing Russian Roulette with your engine, different engine tolerances, mean some late model vehicles now run on engine oils extremely thin, adding an incorrect multigrade such as normal 20w50 oil will result at best in an increase in fuel consumption, and at worse, fouling oil galleries reducing oil flow and ultimately premature engine failure,