Understanding Scheduled Maintenance
In the past 5 years, the car manufactures have changed their recommendations for how to maintain their vehicles. In the past these recommendations were provided by the engineers who made the car, as a roadmap to make the car last the its maximum potential. However it seem that over these last 5 years instead of the engineers making these recommendations is it now been taken over by the Sales dept. as an promotional tool.
In the 70’s that the average out of service mileage was about 170km, this number has changed to be in excess of 300km by the end of this decade. Yet the OE mfg.’s are reducing or eliminating services in their scheduled maintenance guides. What is behind this move? Why do we need to question these recommendations?
Question: What has changed in the last 5 years in the technology that has caused the change to maintenance schedules?
Answer: A couple of things have changed:
- Longer life oil have been introduced to extend the intervals between services
- Better filtration technology to remove particulate from the oil.
Question: What has not changed?
Answer: The internal combustion engine produces carbon deposits which cause engine wear, that need to be removed regularly by changing the oil. The other damaging element to any engine is metal fragment that happen when metal parts come in contact with each other. These fragments are suspended in the oil and cause engine and part wear. The solution is to change the fluid to remove these fragments.
Question: So why are OE Manufactures saying that some fluids like transmission fluid are lifetime fluids and never need to be changed or going with extremely long intervals?
- Manufactures are primarily concerned with this vehicle getting to the end of the warranty period. For most Manufactures this is 3 years or 60,000 km’s. The original fluids will do this. However if you are trying to get this vehicle to 300 km’s it may be a different story.
- Manufactures are very concerned with “TCO” – total cost of ownership – this is a relatively new calculation and comparison done between manufactures. If manufacturer “A” suggest that a transmission service needs to be done every 50 km while manufacturer “B” does not. Manufacturer “A” is considered none competitive in TCO.
- Manufacturers are primarily concerned with selling vehicles and supporting their dealerships. It is understood that customers do not stay at the dealership for service after the warranty expires. Knowing this it is important to keep selling vehicles and therefore keep the service departments alive.
Question: Isn’t it more cost efficient to buy and new vehicle every three years and keep it under warranty and do no maintenance.
Answer: Absolutely not – in fact this in the most expensive cost per km in owning a vehicle. The way to keep costs down, and get the lowest cost per Km is to properly maintain you vehicle avoiding costly repairs and to keep this vehicle for 8 to 10 years, hopefully achieving in excess of 300 km’s. It should be noted that the most expensive part of owing a vehicle in depreciation, so when you trade a vehicle every 3 years you incur this cost more often.
Question: OK so I get it I have to change the fluids if I want to get to 300 Km and have the lowest possible cost of ownership. What fluids should I change?
- Engine oil
- Transmission fluid
- Power Steering fluid
- Engine coolant
- Drive line/Differential fluid
- Brake fluid
The intervals when these fluids need to be changed will depend on the vehicle and the type of fluids being used. Realize that changing fluids regularly will reduce the chance of costly parts replacement.
Question: Explain the Normal service vs. the severe service that I see in my owners Manual?
Answer: Have a look at the conditions below. If your vehicle operates in these conditions you are a candidate for severe serve.
- Most trips are less than four miles
- Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
- You drive in very hot weather
- The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the highway)
- Stop and go driving
- You operate your vehicle in dusty or muddy conditions
- You tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier
Question: Should I use Synthetic fluids or the cheaper mineral based fluids?
Answer: Synthetic fluid have a much greater resistance to break down under heat and provide a much better lubricating power than conventional mineral based oils. So when you are trying to get your vehicle to last in excess of 300km, Synthetic fluids will play a major role in making your vehicle last.
Some people think that just because you are running synthetic based fluids you can dramatically increase change intervals. This notion is false.
Question: I have heard that I can get and additional warranty coverage on my vehicle by just changing the fluids regularly?
Answer: A number of the major lubricant manufactures will extend additional warranty coverage if you use their products when changing the fluids. To maintain this coverage you must perform these services at regular intervals. These warranties can be part of a strategy to get your vehicle to the 300 km.
Question: Is it not hard on the environment by changing these fluids regularly?
Answer: Short answer is no. Virtually none of the fluids today go into landfills or into the water system. All fluids are recycled and are used again in a new application; this saves having to use crude oil for the base of these fluids. It should also be noted that when fluids are changed regularly in a vehicle, these vehicles tends to emit less emissions into the environment.