The Importance of Routine Maintenance

Every time I walk outside, I manage to find that one car that has either an oil burning problem, problems with the paint, or has some kind of horrible noise. This irritates me not only in the sense of the car looking horrible, but the fact that these problems can be avoided. Routine maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to your car. I understand that not everyone can afford a nice car, or maybe they may not have the money to pay for this maintenance. This is understandable, and I do not mean for anything to offend any readers in this blog posting.


Everybody knows that oil in the car needs to be changed. You might ask why? The engine oil looses it’s lubricating properties through the combustion process, and how hard the engine is working. If you go easy on your car and don’t accelerate at a fast rate, you can actually prolong the life of the oil. Most modern cars have “oil life monitors.” Oil life monitors are part of the main computer system in your vehicle, and take several factors into account. To name a few, there is engine speed, rate of acceleration, how much “stop and go” driving you may do, and many others. Taking all of these factors into account, the computer can calculate how long the oil will be effective for, and when it’s time to be changed. My golden rule for oil changes is every 3 months, or 3,000 miles, and the filter gets changed either 6 months or 6,000 miles. Many people will tell you that you don’t have to, which is true. However, my grandpa and father have always changed oil at these intervals, and have never ran into any issues. Ultimately, it is your call how often you want to change the oil.


If you know me in person, you know that I am very particular about keeping a car clean, especially in the winter time. In the winter, the salt that is on the road can reek havoc with the undercarriage. This can cause rust on the frame rails, rocker and quarter panels, and other sensitive areas. Keeping the car clean will help slow down and prevent the formation of rust. When you wash your car, it is very important that you use a soap that is designed for use on a car. In the old days, Dawn made a great soap to wash your car. However, Dawn is a degreaser, and a degreaser is terrible for modern car paint. It can strip any wax that may be on the paint, and can damage the clear coat. Clear coat is the top layer on the cars paint job that gives your car the shine and reflection it has. If you have ever seen a car with spots of dull paint, that is a clear coat problem.

I will make note that some car brands from certain times have paint problems. Buick and other GM cars from the late 80’s and through the early to mid 90’s are very notorious for their low quality paint work. To make a long story short, the base coat and clear coat did not adhere well to the primer. If you didn’t keep the car waxed, the paint can succumb to chipping and peeling The best way to preserve your clear coat on your car is to keep the car waxed. Wax is a protective coating that goes on your cars paint, glass, and other areas. This will keep the car looking great for a long time to come. Before car companies started using this clear coat method, the cars were painted with lacquer paint. Among many other differences, lacquer was not as strong as clear coat. Clear coat is designed to keep the paint looking good with minimal effort. When lacquer paint was used, the owner would have to keep the car waxed to maintain a shine on the car, otherwise the shine would fade and the paint would become dull. The moral of the story, use the best car care products when washing your car.


This is probably most overlooked, but is the most important. The owners manual in your car has a maintenance schedule that should be followed. The makers of these cars include the list of routine maintenance items to help the owner keep their car on the road as long as possible. Changing important fluids such as the transmission fluid, coolant (antifreeze), power steering, and other items will help prolong the life of these components. Lack of maintenance and changing the fluids is one of the biggest reasons why transmissions fail. If you fail to change the coolant, you run the risk of clogging your radiator with old coolant deposits. If you really let this go, you can clog the coolant passages in the engine, and the engine can fail. Spark plugs, spark plug wires, the air filter, and other items will also preserve the engine life. These items often go overlooked, but play a very crucial role in the longevity of your engine.


If you are ever unsure of what to change, and when, consult your owners manual. If you have a trustworthy mechanic, you can also talk to him/her. Owning an automobile is a lot of work, but if you take care of your car, your car will take care of you. My Grandpa was a man who never skipped any maintenance items, and his cars were always happy and running strong. Take these tips, and your car will last you a very long time.

Be sure to catch AutoTalk TV on WilkesNow every other week on Service Electric Cable channel 97 at 12 noon. The broadcast re-airs every weeknight at 7:30 PM. Look for weekly blog entries on The Beacon as well!