The majority of us wish that after we bought a car it would just run perfectly for the next ten years without needing any maintenance whatsoever. Unfortunately, buying the car is the easiest part of owning one. There are many parts that wear out and need replacing. A factory warranty covers some of them, but others are considered normal wear and tear parts and are therefore up to you to replace.
Here are some tips to help prolong the life of three normal wear and tear parts.
First of all, what is the exact purpose of motor oil and why do we have to change it so often? Motor oil is used to clean and lubricate all the moving parts within a vehicle engine, as well as cool it, improve the sealing, and minimize corrosion. As the oil moves through the engine, it picks up particles such as combustion soot and dust from different parts rubbing together. The oil is then circulated through an oil filter, which catches everything picked up by the oil. As the oil continues to circulate it gets more and more dirty, causing it to become sludgy. This is why frequent oil changes are important. In order to have a clean engine, you must have clean oil running through it.
Now that we’ve got that settled, how often should your engine’s oil be changed? Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to that question. Different engines require differing degrees of maintenance. The factory recommended oil change schedule, as well as what grade of oil to use, should be located in your owner’s manual. Any time you go to a service department for an oil change, the technician should place a little rectangular sticker in the upper left-hand corner of your windshield detailing both the date of service and the suggested mileage of the next service.
And now it gets more complicated. There are many, many, different types of motor oil available. You can choose between single-grades and multi-grades, with many different options to choose from within those two categories. The American Petroleum Institute has set some minimum performance standards for oil, which can be divided into no less than five groups, and two classes. And, as if there were not enough options already – now you can get synthetic oils, and bio-based oils.
Many people think that because synthetic oil is more stable than conventional oil it can be left unchanged for a greater period of time. It is true that a synthetic oil is more stable, however this does not mean that it has the ability to clean itself – synthetic oil gets just as dirty as conventional oil and therefore needs to be changed just as often.
Every driver dreads showing up at their local mechanic for a scheduled maintenance, and being told that their tires are completely worn out and must be replaced. We are all in the same boat. Heat, cold, sunlight, ozone conditions and even your driving style contribute to tire wear and tear. However, there are a few things you can do to improve the life of your tires.
Rotate your tires frequently, get a wheel-alignment whenever your car does not drive exactly straight, and make sure all tires are properly inflated. This can greatly reduce uneven wear, which in turn prolongs the life of the tire. If you bring your vehicle to a service center quickly after noticing an under inflated tire, the chances that it can be patched or salvaged in some way are greatly increased. If you wait until the tire blows out on the freeway, there will be no way to avoid having to replace it.
Brake Pads and Rotors
Unfortunately, just like oil and tires, both break pads and rotors are parts designed to wear out and need replacing. But there are a few things you can do to make them last as long as possible.
First, try to avoid heavy or sudden braking. Sometimes it is unavoidable to make a sudden stop, but when at all possible try to brake smoothly. Some drivers with standard transmission vehicles will downshift to slow the engine instead of braking. This will cause more wear to the transmission than to the brakes, but a transmission is more expensive to replace and I would not necessarily recommend it.
Second, replace your brake pads when your technician recommends that you do so. Neglecting to replace your brake pads before they’ve completely worn out will result in damage to your rotors. When the brake pads are completely gone, all that’s left to clamp onto the rotor when you hit the brake pedal is the metal backing plate. Without the brake pad, the backing plate will cause significant damage to the rotor.
Third, make sure that you have the right amount of brake fluid. Every two years or so, your mechanic should change your brake fluid, but check in between those flushes to make sure that it is at the correct level. If your brake fluid is low, this means you have a leak and if it is not taken care of right away, you could have a problem.
Fourth, ask your mechanic to clean your rotors whenever you get a tire rotation or tire replacement. He should do this even without your asking, but to be on the safe side you should just mention that you’d like it done.