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Helminc.com eNewsletter Archive > 2006 eNewsletters > December > Importance of Scheduled Maintenance

Importance of Scheduled Auto Maintenance

We all know that scheduled vehicle maintenance is important for our vehicles, but not necessarily why this is so, or what the benefits are. We are going to take a look at just a few maintenance points on your vehicle and point out why the maintenance is so important.

Tire Inspection and Inflation - At least once a month check the pressure of your tires. A tire can lose 1 PSI of pressure under normal circumstances, plus a drop of 10 degrees can lower pressure by another 1 PSI. Properly inflated tires will wear more evenly providing longer life, and your fuel economy will be improved. Under inflated tires put a lot of stress on the tire and makes them more prone to blowout. Keeping tires properly inflated will save you money and provide a safer ride.

Inspect the tread of your tires to ensure they will provide adequate traction on water and snow. Click here for tips on how to evaluate the tread on your tires.

Exterior Cleaning – Not only will the car look better, a clean car will resist rust, fading, and other blemishes longer. Accumulated dirt will hold moisture, extending the time it can do damage. After prolonged contact with some dirt, or even bird droppings, staining or fading may occur as the substance reacts with the paint or finish. A power wash of the underside and wheel wells will remove dirt and salt that can accelerate corrosion.

Interior Cleaning – Cleaning of carpets and upholstery can keep dirt and spills from being ground in or setting in to become permanent stains. Washing of the interior windows will provide a nicer view, but is also a serious safety concern. As many interior materials age or get super-heated in the sun, vapors are released and then deposit on the interior of windows as a cloudy haze. Direct sunlight can then cause that haze “light up” as it reflects the bright light, severely inhibiting visibility while driving.

Oil Changes – The oil change is the most familiar element of routine scheduled maintenance, but why is it important? Oil is needed in the engine to reduce friction between the moving parts and keeping the temperature down. Oil eventually breaks down, however, in a process of “carbonization” which leaves deposits of “sludge” inside the engine, and tend to block the free flow of oil through the system. As sludge takes its toll, and friction and temperature rises, wear on engine parts dramatically increases, significantly lowering the lifespan of the engine. Check your owner’s manual to find the proper intervals at which your engine oil should be changed.

Air Filter – Replacement of the air filter ensures that the proper amount of clean air is flowing through the system. Old filters become restricted, and an insufficient flow of air will significantly impact your engine’s performance and fuel economy. Fuel economy can suffer up to 10% due to a clogged air filter.

Tire Rotation – Tire rotation involves moving the wheels from one position to another such that over time every tire will have had equal service in each of the four wheel wells. This ensures that the tires will wear evenly, maximizing their life.

Coolant Levels – Insufficient coolant may lead to engine overheating which can cause significant damage.

Radiator Drain – Antifreeze coolants have a corrosion inhibitor quality that degrades over time. If the system is not drained and filled with fresh antifreeze at periodic intervals the interior of the radiator and engine will begin to rust, creating rust particles, free to circulate and eventually, leaks in the coolant system.

Exhaust System – A properly functioning exhaust system is important for engine performance and fuel economy. It is also a critical safety factor as it ensures that dangerous fumes are carried safely to the rear of the vehicle and do not enter the interior of the vehicle.

Brakes – First and foremost, this is a safety concern. In addition, however, periodic brake inspections and repair (if necessary) will head off more costly repairs. The brakes endure a great deal of wear by design, because they use friction to slow or stop the vehicle. Parts need to be replaced regularly, and if worn parts are not replaced, the repair job will require more parts, more labor, and that means more money.

Timing Belt Replacement – If your vehicle has a timing belt, it may suffer serious permanent damage if it breaks, because moving parts may collide inside the engine. Check your owners manual to see when it should be changed.

We recommend you consult your owner’s manual to see what service is applicable to your vehicle and when maintenance should be performed, as this is just a sampling of maintenance items.

In general, adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule will yield the following benefits:

  • Longer vehicle life.
  • Overall lower cost of repairs because problems avoided or caught early are often much less expensive.
  • Increased travel safety due to fewer failures on the road.
  • Saved time, money, and aggravation by avoiding unexpected breakdowns.
  • Better vehicle performance.
  • Better fuel economy.
  • Higher vehicle resale value. (Tip: Keep all receipts of maintenance performed for when you do sell the vehicle.)

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