Servicing Tips - Service Intervals
Do Driving Conditions Affect Service Intervals?
Have you ever noticed that your vehicle has a schedule in your owner's manual for what is called “severe service” maintenance? Let's define what severe driving conditions aren't: The easiest driving a vehicle experiences is traveling on the open road for twenty kilometers or more at a constant rate of 100 kilometers per hour in temperatures around 20-25°C with only passengers on board. Change any one of those parameters and you are adding stress to your engine. Change them significantly, and you are driving under severe conditions.
Let's look at the parameters one a time. First, the length of the trip. Short trips around town are harder on an engine than longer ones. As your engine cools down, water in the air condenses onto the engine. When you heat the engine again, the water evaporates off. This is healthy, but on short trips, the engine doesn't stay hot enough long enough for all of the water to evaporate so it starts to build up in the engine oil leading to sludge. This can clog up your engine and lead to serious engine damage. If most or all of your trips are less than four kilometers, you should be using the severe service maintenance schedule. Changing your oil more frequently at Oil Changers will help prevent the formation of sludge.
Most of us think of severe weather conditions when we think of severe driving conditions, and we're right. Cold weather takes its toll on the oil in your vehicle. Remember how water has to evaporate out of the oil to keep your engine healthy? It can take up to ten kilometers of driving for an engine to get hot enough to get rid of moisture in the oil when the weather is cold.
Hot weather is also bad for vehicles. When an engine runs, it gets hot. The longer it runs, the hotter it gets. If it gets too hot, it breaks down. So it has to be constantly cooled to keep running. Hot weather means your cooling system has to work harder to keep your engine from getting too hot.
In the end, most of us drive under severe conditions some of the time. You should consider the conditions under which most of your driving falls and ask yourself the question: "Should I follow the severe service maintenance schedule?" An honest evaluation of our driving habits is the best way to determine which schedule to follow.
PO Box 16686 Hornby
New Zealand 8441
Recommended Service Intervals
Most people in New Zealand are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions are government mandated.
The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.
Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your vehicle. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.
Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your vehicle engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from vitally needed lubrication.
Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system clean restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.
Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your vehicle. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as brake fluid flush and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.
Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Service Advisor at Oil Changers by calling 03 3442374 or visiting www.oilchangers.co.nz for your nearest store.
You may be surprised to learn what various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your vehicle. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.
Your vehicle owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.
PO Box 16686 Hornby
New Zealand 8441