In several parts of all our major cities, you may have seen well maintained lawns and beautiful flowers on the road sides and in front of people’s houses. This is mainly due to the extra effort of the concerned persons and house owners. Similarly for your automobile to run in a manner where reliability is high and repair and maintenance cost is low, it would be to your advantage to pay a little attention to the scheduled maintenance of your automobile.
The 2500/5000 KM Scheduled Maintenance
Everyone knows that after a certain period of time the engine oil and filter has to be changed. However, please note if you are using a good quality oil you can extend the change interval up to 5,000 kms instead of say 2,500-3000 kms. Those using an expensive engine oil and changing it every 2,500 kms, are pouring money down the drain. Regarding the engine oil filter, I would like to caution you to purchase a filter that actually functions as a filter. In the spare parts market you find qualities from No. 1 to Number 6. So make sure that the filter you buy is not just a round tin container, but actually filters the oil.
At this time you should also carry out the following:
1. Changing the diesel filter (for vehicles fitted with diesel engines).
2. Cleaning the paper type air cleaner with compressed air or in the case of oil bath air cleaners, changing the oil and washing the element with kerosene. To make sure that no dust is entering the engine rub your finger inside the air cleaner hose. If the air filter is doing its job there should be no dust in the hose. Dense black smoke from the exhaust is one indication that your air filter is dirty.
3. Washing the radiator and condenser (if an AC is fitted ). The cleaner the radiator and condenser, the more efficiently the engine cooling system and AC system will operate.
4. Checking the water/coolant level in the radiator. Remember if you have to keep adding water you have a leak somewhere, the radiator is choked internally or the radiator cap requires replacement. With high daytime temperatures it would be advisable to get the cooling system in working order.
5. Checking of the fan/alternator belts. If these are loose they should be tightened. If cracked then replaced. It is suggested that when buying a new belt try to buy the ones which use threads for reinforcement. These are stronger and longer lasting, as compared to those that are made with rubber only.
6. Checking the electrolyte level in the battery and making sure the battery clamps are clean and tight.
7. Checking the level of the fluid in the brake and clutch reservoirs. If slightly low then top up the reservoirs with brake fluid, but remember to use the same brand every time. Do not mix different brands, as by doing so will cause the brake seals to expand or to leak.
8. Checking the power steering fluid level. The gauge shows two levels. One side is for the level with engine stopped and the other side with the engine running. Do not over fill.
9. Checking the gearbox (transmission) and differential (applicable only to rear wheel drive vehicles) oil levels.
10. Checking the tyre pressure. Remember that the pressure should be checked while the tyres are cold, otherwise you should add 3 to 4 PSI (pounds per square inch) to the recommended tyre pressure. For example if the car manufacturer has recommended 29 PSI for the tyres, but you have to drive more than 1 or 2 kms, then the correct tyre pressure is 32 or 33 PSI. To check if the tyre pressure is correct, just look at the tyres. If there is equal wear on the tyre tread, then you are doing OK.
Follow these tips and you will be keeping your vehicle happy and reliable. Ignoring such small steps can lead to a major repair expense in the longer run.