admin On February - 3 - 2010

Preventive Maintenance is a schedule of planned maintenance actions aimed at the prevention of breakdowns and failures. The primary goal of preventive maintenance is to help prolong the life of the vehicle and reduce vehicle failures therefore providing a worry free driving experience.

Automotive technicians say the key to keeping vehicles running well today and down the road, is routine preventive maintenance. Many drivers tend to stall when it comes to keeping up with some everyday automotive basics.

A recent survey by the Car Care Council found:

  • 38 percent of cars had low or dirty engine oil.
  • 54 percent had low tire pressure.
  • 28 percent had inadequate cooling protection.
  • 19 percent needed new belts.
  • 16 percent had dirty air filters.
  • 10 percent had low or contaminated brake fluid.

For your convenience, the Car Care Council developed a Service Interval Schedule to help you keep track of regular maintenance. Most of the checks and services described here can be done at little or no cost. Best of all, they are quick and easy to do.

Let’s start with one of the most important fluids of all: motor oil. It not only lubricates the engine, but also cools, cleans and protects it. But the oil itself can’t do all of these jobs without some help. Nearly half a pint of various additives are added to the typical quart of oil to improve the oil’s ability to resist heat, friction, oxidation and contamination.

Short trip driving is especially hard on oil because the engine never warms up enough to boil off the moisture that accumulates inside the crankcase. The moisture comes from combustion gases that blowby the piston rings (the older the engine, the greater the amount of blowby). Most of these gases are removed by the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system. But in a cold engine much of the moisture condenses and ends up in the oil. Water reacts with oil to form sludge and acids, and the result is accelerated engine wear.

The only way to get rid of the accumulated moisture, acids and sludge is to change both oil and filter. The filter only removes suspended solids such as dirt, carbon and metal particles — not moisture, acids or sludge.

The oil and filter change intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturers vary depending on the vehicle application and how the vehicle is driven. For “normal service” (which means mostly highway driving, NOT short trip city stop-and-go traffic driving), the scheduled maintenance intervals for changing the engine oil and filter range from 3,000 to as much as 7,500 miles, with the time interval being up to one year. Some vehicle manufacturers even say it is okay to replace the oil filter at every other oil change rather than every oil change.

But if you study the maintenance recommendations closely, most vehicles come under the “severe service” schedule, which generally calls for oil and filter changes every 3,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first. This is the same recommendation most aftermarket experts make. Severe service is short trip driving (7 miles or less, especially during cold weather), towing a trailer, or driving in dusty conditions.

If a newer low mileage engine is driven mostly on the highway, you can probably get away with the longer service intervals. But as an engine accumulates miles, it experiences more blowby which dumps more moisture and fuel into the crankcase. For this reason, engines with more than 70,000 miles should not use the extended oil change intervals regardless of how they are driven.

Some engines, such as diesels, suffer more blowby than others so they typically require more frequent oil and filter changes. For most passenger car and light truck diesels, 3,000 miles is still the recommended interval for all types of service.

Turbocharged engines likewise require more frequent oil changes because of the high temperatures encountered in the turbocharger bearings. A turbo can spin at tremendous speed (over 100,000 rpm in many instances). This, combined with the heat of the exhaust gases passing through the housing, creates an environment that accelerates oxidation of the oil. When the engine is shut off, for example, the temperatures inside the turbo bearing housing can soar to the point where it “cokes” the oil, forming hard black crusty deposits that can damage the turbo. Because of this, the recommended oil change interval for most turbocharged engines is 3000 miles or six months. The motor oil should be “turbo-approved” for such applications, or a synthetic motor oil.

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