Mechanically Speaking: Maintenance list is worth following

It is very easy to miss some of the bigger maintenance items on that once a year pilgrimage to the jiffy lube at the mall.

If you are starting to think that the car that you currently own and maintain has cost you nothing in maintenance other than oil and filters and gas then you are likely not doing all the maintenance that it needs.

Many of you are now driving vehicles that tell you when your car needs service. In many cases that may only be once a year. If that means only one trip to the quick lube once a year I would recommend not keeping that vehicle for too long. Listening to the car salesman on the radio might be just the thing to do. It is time to buy something new. Again!

Cost effective ownership? I don’t think so. You do get to drive a new car more often though.

I make my living maintaining and repairing vehicles. So my opinion does have some bias.

It is very easy to miss some of the bigger maintenance items on that once a year pilgrimage to the jiffy lube at the mall.

Your vehicle is doing just fine and other than your monthly payment to “name of manufacturer”, Finance Canada maintenance costs have been next to nothing. Thank goodness because that payment is about all that your finances can handle.

Well, what maintenance items could you be missing? Open your owner manual and take a look.

Let’s say you drive a late model 2008 Ford half ton pickup truck with a small V8 engine and an automatic transmission. It is now seven years old and has 150,000 kilometres.

The maintenance schedule has a lot of information in it. Some of the information applies to you and some does not.

Many maintenance items are different depending on how you use your vehicle. Do you use your vehicle to tow? Do you take it off road? Are all your trips short?

Essentially, are you going to apply the normal service schedule or the severe service schedule?

Looking closely at the list there is no service that requires only fresh oil and a filter. A multipoint inspection must always take place. Fluid levels, tire pressures and condition, exhaust system, lights, battery, the list goes on. It is fairly substantial.

There is a monthly inspection category. It includes things like tire pressure and condition, your engine oil level and your windshield washer fluid level.

There is a way more comprehensive six-month inspection that includes some lubrication items that are often forgotten.

Lubricate all hinges, external door locks, and latches. Lubricate door weather strips.

One very important item often forgotten is cleaning all the drain holes that allow the water to run out. If you park under leafy trees you may have already experienced a wet interior from backed up cowl drains (under the windshield).

Every second time the oil and filter is changed you should also be getting a full brake inspection and that is more than just peeking into the wheels with a flashlight. The wheels must come  off.

Six years have gone buy. You need fresh coolant. When 144,000 kilometres have gone by. Time for some spark plugs.

Did the automatic transmission get new fluid and a filter at 100,000 kilometres?

The list of maintenance items is daunting and they take time to do properly.

Sure, many of them will slip through the cracks and or be ignored without immediate consequences.

The consequences are costly though. I see the results frequently.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail:

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