Thurston Car Talk – Preventative Maintenance

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Brons Automotive is located in the heart of West Olympia. Photo credit: Bron's Automotive.

Submitted by Bron’s Automotive

Q.  Why do fleet mechanics perform preventative maintenance?

A.  To prevent costly breakdowns and make the vehicle last longer.

Q.  What things are normally done to make a vehicle last longer and breakdown less?

1.   Change oil every 3,000 miles or 3 months.  This is for normal driving.  If you typically run the engine for over 20 miles every time you use it, (say if you work in Tacoma), then it’s acceptable to go 5,000 miles between oil changes. Frequent starts and stops cause harmful byproducts to build up in the oil and this is why the 3,000 mile/3 month interval is recommended, even if the oil looks good.  Full Synthetic oil goes much longer with 7,500 miles being a normal number.

2.   Keep the air filter and fuel filter clean.  Typical recommendations for both of these are to change them every 30,000 miles. A clean air filter lets the engine breathe easier.  A clean fuel filter lets the fuel pump do its job easier. A partially plugged fuel filter makes the fuel pump work much harder, and since most modern electric fuel pumps are inside the fuel tank, we want them to last as long as possible.

3.   Keep the other fluids fresh.  Typical recommendations for changing other fluids are every 30,000 miles. Coolant has anti-corrosion additives and lubricant additives which become depleted over time.   Automatic transmission fluid becomes dirty and oxidized over time.  If you tow with your vehicle it’s wise to service the transmission more often.  Front and rear differentials, manual transmissions, and transfer cases on 4 wheel drive vehicles also have either gear oil or automatic transmission fluid in them that should be changed out every 30,000 miles.  Some newer vehicles have “extended life” coolant, and while these do seem to last a bit longer we still recommend flushing them out and replacing with fresh, at least every 60,000 miles.  Servicing the cooling systems and transmissions makes sense when you consider that you’re taking care of the two most expensive components on your vehicle, the engine and transmission.

4.   Keep the engine “in tune”.  Tune-ups involve replacing parts that wear out in time.  We replace these parts to keep the vehicle running correctly.  Spark plug life varies from 30,000 for the regular type, or from 60,000 to 90,000 miles for platinum and double platinum plugs.  Irridium plugs can go longer.  Spark plug wires wear out also.  When you’ve gone past 100,000 miles it can be a good idea to replace spark plug wires before they fail and cause the engine to run bad.

5.   Keep the injectors clean.  Fuel injectors on modern engines can begin to plug up from internal deposits, which can result in a slightly different amount of fuel being sprayed from each injector into each different cylinder. The engine still seems to run fine, but it’s the equivalent of walking with a limp.  Our fuel injector service cleans the fuel injectors, fuel rail, and pressure regulator from the inside out with a concentrated detergent/gas mix and removes internal deposits, and you will generally notice an improvement in fuel mileage and idle quality.  This can be a beneficial service any time after 60,000 miles driving, and is often recommended as part of a complete engine tune.

6.   Many engines are equipped with a timing belt that wears out.  Replacement intervals range from 60,000 miles to 105,000 miles depending on the manufacturer.  A broken belt can result in engine damage on many engines so this should not be ignored.

7.   In recent years cars are coming equipped with a cabin air filter that filters incoming air for the heating and air conditioning system.  This filter has a very fine mesh and removes not only dirt, but airborne pollen as well.  They are typically replaced every 15,000 to 30,000 miles.

8.   Keep brake fluid fresh.  Brake fluid attracts moisture and should be flushed out periodically.  We normally flush fluid out as part of our brake jobs, however many manufacturers are now recommending brake fluid flushes every 30,000 miles in order to keep moisture out of expensive Anti-lock brake components.

At Bron’s Automotive we are certified to perform the services which will keep your manufacturers warranty in effect.  Check us out at bronsautomotive.com

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