> a general strategy for maintaining your car

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Keywords: automobile maintenance and repair automotive maintenance maintaining your car maintenance schedule scheduled maintenance automotive maintenance scheduled maintenance periodic maintenance tune-up

A General Strategy For Maintaining Your Car

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British Grand Prix At Silverstone, 1956
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Hello, Car Owners:

Where I used to work, before retirement, we routinely get 350,000 miles out of the cars in our fleet of taxicabs, mainly Ford Crown Victoria, on the original engines. This is not done by magic, but by good, systematic maintenance and repair. You may not be able to get quite that many miles out of your cars, but you can come pretty close if you follow these rules we observe:

1. Change the oil every four thousand miles, religiously. Use regular oil, not synthetic; buy the highest quality regular oil you can find; 10W30 is fine for most applications in most cars. Whenever you change the oil, always change the oil filter, too. Funny things can happen inside of oil filters, and it's best not to push them too far.

2. Keep all dirt OUT OF THE ENGINE! This means change air filters and fuel filters regularly; avoid driving on dusty roads. Make sure the air intake system has no leaks which could allow unfiltered air to enter.

3. Never ever let the car overheat. If it even comes close to overheating, stop it immediately and get it fixed. Overheating means premature death to all kinds of hoses, seals, and gaskets in your car.

4. Do not hot-rod the car. Drive it normally, exerting normal stresses on the various parts.

5. Set up a regular maintenance schedule with one shop which knows and loves your car. Schedule the maintenance around your 4,000-mile oil changes. That is, while your car is in for its 4,000-mile oil change, do whatever else is scheduled at that time.

Make sure that one of the top technicians inspects your car during the oil change. You want him to take a look at everything and let you know of any abnormalities. A low-skilled oil-change guy is a very bad idea. A wheel could be falling off, and he might not notice it. You want some sharp-eyed technician who can quickly spot anything which seems to be going wrong.

6. It's okay to do some work on your own car, but be realistic about your abilities. Don't get in too far over your head.

7. It's okay to go outside your regular shop for some things which are done more efficiently outside. Most dealers and independent garages are not as efficient with tires, for instance, as a Sears or a Goodyear store might be.

8. In general, replace parts, don't try to repair them. Replacement parts are made in factories, with the efficiencies of mass production. Parts repair is usually done by one person, working at an inflated hourly rate, with very low efficiency.

9. In general, use high-quality remanufactured parts where available, except for engines, where you should go with used engines, where possible. It's very hard to remanufacture an engine properly. The original manufacturer did a better job than the remanufacturer can usually do. Transmissions are a different story, however: we use Ford rebuilt transmissions which come in a box from the factory.

10. Avoid cheap tires and batteries. They are more trouble than they are worth. (Avoid cheap parts in general, for the same reason.) Buy all-season tires and maintenance-free batteries. Keep the terminals clean and dry on your maintenance-free battery. Since no battery acid should be able to reach your terminals, there is no need for any kind of grease or corrosion inhibitor. If you see corrosion, replace the battery: there is a leak.

11. The only real advantage to tire rotation is that it makes all of your tires wear out at the same time. We replace our tires one-at-a-time, as needed. If you find unusual tire wear, fix the underlying problem, which is usually worn front-end parts resulting in bad alignment.

12. Do not let anything squeak for very long. Squeaking means that improper friction is happening somewhere in your car. Find it and fix it.

13. Do not let anything grind for very long. A low-frequency grinding noise means that actual destruction is going on in your car! Find it and fix it.

14. Develop your sense of smell for automotive smells. Gasoline is one smell; exhaust fumes another; burning oil is another; transmission fluid is one smell, motor oil is another; coolant is a sickly sweet smell; brake fluid is another smell; battery acid is another; brakes overheating is one smell; rubber burning is another. These are the main ones. Try to learn them, and pay attention if you suddenly start to smell any of them.

15. Do not drive when a red warning light comes on. The red ones are serious and must not be ignored. Better to stop the car and catch a cab home than to destroy an engine for lack of oil, for instance.

16. The yellow warning lights are not as serious. They do demand your attention, but you don't usually need to interrupt your trip to fix them immediately.

17. Get to know your car and love it. Be aware when anything seems to change for the worse. Pay attention and be aware of your car just as you are aware of your own body. Be able to express your observations in words, so you can accurately tell your shop what you have noticed. <><

That's all for now.

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May the Lord bless this presentation.

     Rev. Bill McGinnis  <><

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