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Maintaining Your New Car

With 0% financing for up to 60 months and "Employee Pricing" being offered by car makers, new cars are rolling off the lots in record numbers. If you took advantage of this offer then you'll want to read this.
» Your New Car
» Under The Hood
» Under The Car
» Around The Car
» Service Schedule
The Engine Compartment:

The engine is the heart of your car and probably the most costly to repair when something goes wrong. With today's electronic controls a lot of maintenance has been eliminated. There are no more points or condensers to replace so we don't need tune-ups as often. There are no more carburetors to adjust so we don't have to worry about that anymore either.

There is one thing you can do that will add many miles to your engine. that is regular oil and filter changes. Most auto manufacturers recommend oil and filter changes every 7,500 miles or six months, under "normal" conditions. A better interval is 3,000 miles or three months. If you start this routine from day one, the inside of your engine will stay clean and you won't get any sludge build up that can damage it. I have 210,000 miles on my Nissan Van that I bought new and the oil still comes out as clean as it went it. It also doesn't consume oil between changes and compression is still the same as when it came from the factory.

This is the one, most important thing you can do to stretch the life of the engine. You'll replace alternators, water pumps and just about everything that hangs on the engine, but by changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles you won't have to worry about the engine itself.

Today's cars tend to run hotter than they used to. With the trend to downsize vehicle components to save space and weight, cooling system components are being asked to do more than their older counterparts. The best thing you can do to maintain the cooling system at peak efficiency during the life of your car is to replace the coolant every two years. Anti-freeze does wear out and by replacing the coolant you insure that the corrosion inhibitors are fresh and doing the job they're supposed to. By doing this you will eliminate the scale and corrosion that builds up inside the radiator when coolant is left in too long and avoid a costly radiator repair or replacement.

Probably the most ignored fluid in the car, and the most important, is the brake fluid. Brake fluid is not a petroleum-based product; it is made from cashew shells. As such brake fluid does absorb moisture from the air and when it does, its effectiveness diminishes and lowers braking performance. Sludge will also build up over a period of time and will block the valves inside ABS units and result in costly repairs or replacement. In addition this sludge will cause calipers and wheel cylinders to leak, also resulting in repairs or replacement. So the best thing to do is to have the brake fluid flushed and refilled every two years or 60,000 miles.

The transmission fluid also needs to be changed on a regular basis to help keep the transmission in tiptop shape. Most transmission failures can be directly traced to lack of maintenance. Transmissions are very expensive to repair or replace, often in the thousands of dollars. Many times the cost of all the fluid and filter changes you will pay for the entire life of the car.

Power steering is another fluid that is often ignored. It is recommended that it be flushed and refilled every two years or 60,000 miles. This will help prevent costly hydraulic repairs or replacement. Most notably leaking power steering racks that can cost up to $1500.00 to replace.

Filters are an important part of regular maintenance. Air and fuel filters keep dirt and junk out of the engine so they will do no harm. Problems arise when these filters get dirty and start to clog up. Many drivability problems such as hesitation and rough idle stem from d an interference engine, that is to say an engine where the valves and pistons occupy the same place in the combustion chamber at different times, serious engine damage will occur. If your car has a non-interference engine the worst that will happen is you get stranded somewhere. Most manufacturers suggest replacing the timing belt every 60,000 miles. I highly recommend this interval as well.

Another thing I would recommend is to keep the engine clean. As time goes by, the engine will get dirty. Dirt and seeping oil will accumulate and this has a tendency to hold engine heat in. Having the engine washed every two years will help the engine breathe and keep cool. It will also make finding leaks easier if you should have one spring up on you. At the Mercedes dealership I worked at, we did an engine wash with every 30,000 mile service.

The battery is another thing that requires a regular service, not too much, but important. You need to make sure the battery fluid is up to the full line and that the terminals are clean and free of snow. Also the top of the battery needs to be clean to prevent current leakage between the terminals. This should be done every 7,500 miles.

» Part 1       » Part 2       » Part 3       » Part 4
» Part 5

Additional Information provided courtesy of and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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