Archive for the ‘engine oil’ Tag

Basic Auto Care Many Drivers Miss

Fluids and lubricants rank among the most neglected items when it comes to basic auto care, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

Community car care events held throughout the country found that the top-three fluids most likely to be low or contaminated are windshield washer fluid in 26 percent of inspected vehicles, followed by engine oil at 23 percent and coolant at 19 percent.

Windshield washer fluid keeps dirt and debris from collecting on a vehicle’s windshield, allowing the driver full visibility and making it an essential safety item. Windshield washer fluid should be checked monthly and drivers should use a fluid that is specially formulated for their climate.

Engine oil lubricates the moving parts of a vehicle’s engine, helping keep the engine clean and preventing wear and overheating. Neglecting to change a vehicle’s oil can lead to costly repairs, including replacement. Engine oil levels should be checked frequently and changed per the owner’s manual.

Coolant absorbs heat from the engine and dissipates it through the radiator and heat exchanger. Because coolant breaks down over time, neglecting it can lead to corrosion, rust and engine overheating. Flushing and replacing coolant every six to 12 months, depending upon climate, will help prevent costly repairs.

“Checking fluids and lubricants is easy to put off, but each is critical to your vehicle running properly and safely,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The good news is that they are easy to check and inexpensive to replace. Whether you do it yourself or visit a trusted technician, be sure to inspect your vehicle for any possible signs of trouble so you can address minor service needs before they turn into major repairs.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at http://www.carcare.org.

Dream Vacation or Nightmare Road Trip? Pre-Trip Vehicle Check Can Make the Difference

Road trip car trouble can be a real nightmare, but performing a pre-trip vehicle check helps drivers avoid a vacation breakdown disaster, says the Car Care Council.

“When dreaming about summer vacation, the thought of a roadside breakdown can be terrifying,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Performing a pre-trip driveway inspection gives motorists peace of mind by reducing the chance of unplanned, costly car trouble and providing an opportunity to have any repairs performed by a trusted technician before hitting the road.”

Right in their own driveway, motorists can determine how road ready their vehicle is with a 10-minute vehicle check. If service or repairs are needed, they can be performed in advance to ensure safety and reliability on the road.

Check the tires including tire pressure and tread. Underinflated tires reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy and uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
Check the hoses and belts as they can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.
Check filters and fluids including engine oil, power steering and brake, and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and inspect and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.
Check the brakes and battery to be sure the battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free and that the brakes are functioning properly.

The Car Care Council also recommends that motorists restock their emergency kit, consider a pre-trip tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy, and order a free copy of the Car Care Council’s popular Car Care Guide for the glove box at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/dream-vacation-or-nightmare-road-trip-pre-trip-vehicle-check-can-make-the-difference/

When should you consider synthetic oil?

Many automakers require owners to use synthetic motor oil in their cars’ engines. This is because synthetic oil has some advantages over conventional motor oil. It’s designed to be more effective at:

Resisting break-down, and thus lasts longer than mineral oil

Withstanding high temperatures

Flowing in cold temperatures, thus reducing engine wear during frigid startups.

However, synthetic motor oil can cost two to four times as much as regular oil. So unless your owner’s manual specifies synthetic, you don’t need it. But Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic says there are some situations where synthetic oil’s resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of an engine.

If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities. That could hasten the breakdown of conventional oil. Also, if you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil won’t break down as quickly. While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year.

Another good use for synthetic oil is as a salve for older engines prone to sludge buildup. This gunky residue can block oil passages and lead to a quick death of an engine. In the early 2000s, several engines from Chrysler, Toyota, and Volkswagen, among others, were especially prone to sludge buildup. This sludge forms when oil breaks down. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in those engines, as it is less likely to form troublesome sludge.

Using synthetic in these situations will prolong your oil life and require fewer changes. That’s a major benefit to the environment, as used motor oil is a major source of toxic waste in water. Your pocketbook will also thank you.

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/car-tech/when-should-you-consider-synthetic-oil/ar-AAcHX6y

Home for the Holidays: Is Your Car Up for the Journey?

Before you pack up the car to head home for the holidays, the Car Care Council reminds you to make sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. Conducting a thorough vehicle inspection will help you avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles away from home.

“It’s easy to remember to get your family ready for the holiday festivities, but what about preparing the car that’s going to get you there?” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Having a pre-inspection performed on your car will give you peace of mind as you travel and help make your journey safer.”

Before leaving home, the Car Care Council recommends a check of the following, often overlooked, items: tires and tire pressure, brakes, hoses and belts, air filters, wipers, exterior and interior lighting, and fluid levels, including engine oil, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

“A pre-trip inspection provides the opportunity to have service repairs made at home by your own trusted technician who knows the vehicle, and helps reduce the chance of costly and dangerous trouble on the road,” said Rich While.

The Car Care Council also recommends that drivers keep important telephone numbers in their cell phone or glove box in case of a breakdown or travel emergency. Vehicles should have a roadside emergency kit that includes items such as a first aid kit, a tire-changing jack, a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, a flashlight and a blanket. A copy of the recently-updated 80-page Car Care Guide should be kept in the glove box and can be ordered free of charge at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

As read on: http://www.carcare.org/2014/11/home-holidays-car-journey/

When Should I Change My Oil?

An engine oil change is a relatively simple service. It’s widely touted as the single most important part of your car’s maintenance schedule. There is a good reason for this. Nothing will shorten engine life faster than missed oil changes. But how can you tell when you should change your oil?  Advances in technology and increased consumer awareness have created some confusion to how often this needs to happen.

The Easy Answer

For most of us, all we need to do is follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for oil change intervals. Their guidelines are designed to keep your car in good running condition for a long time. Where can you find your car’s service schedule for oil changes and other recommended maintenance? You can check the owner’s manual that hopefully you have kept in a handy place like your car’s glove box. You might also visit the manufacturer’s website and do a search to download it.

Quick lube shops have their own recommendations. One thing to remember is that these shops are speaking to a wide audience, addressing cars of every age, every mileage, and some with different needs. While there is no harm done by too frequent oil changes, if your car doesn’t need them, that money could be better spent on other maintenance needs.

Don’t Put It Off

If you have ever put off a trip to the grocery store or waited a couple of weeks longer between haircuts, don’t do that with oil changes. Never put it off.  Your oil’s primary function is to cut friction. Over time, oil accumulates contaminants and loses viscosity (the ability to flow into every nook and cranny). Contaminants cause friction as parts rub together. Friction wears out those parts faster. The damage caused by these conditions is largely irreversible without an engine overhaul or replacement.

Waiting for the low oil light to come on can be the worst thing you can do to your engine. You shouldn’t see that light unless your oil level is low. So you don’t want to see it. Whatever amount of oil you do have left almost certainly has lost its ability to function properly. The good news is that your service schedule is written to have this service done long before disaster is on the horizon.

Cars are Smarter Now

For a very long time the gold standard for oil changes was 3,000 to 3,500 miles. There are still many adherents to this philosophy, but it may not be necessary. Advances in engineering to both engine mechanical parts and especially to oil itself have extended the oil life cycle by more than double the old number.

Do you use synthetic oil?  Automakers recommend it for some models. It cost a little more than regular oil, but it has had the biggest impact on oil life. The life cycle for synthetics is typically 7,000 to 10,000 miles, a big change from conventional oil. The type of driving we do also affects our oil change needs. Frequent cold starts, extreme heat, and towing, are all examples of types of driving that can shorten our oil life. Also, repeated short trips (under 4 miles) is one of the most overlooked enemies of oil life. Any of these driving conditions can create the need to shorten your service interval by 25-40 percent depending on the severity.

If your car is equipped with a maintenance reminder on the dash some the guesswork is eliminated for you. Can you trust it? For the most part, yes. In the early days of automobiles the only way we had to track our vehicle’s aging was the odometer. But miles traveled is not always a good indicator of actual use for many urban environments. With the inclusion of computers in the modern automobile we now have a way for the car to track time AND mileage. Time is important to this discussion because running time affects oil life.

But not all maintenance indicators work the same way. Some use an electronic sensor to measure the oil quality, while others use an algorithm based on driving metrics to determine life expectancy. If your car is not equipped with maintenance light or gauge, the owner’s manual should still be your guide.

Don’t Buy Cheap Oil

All of these scenarios assume you are using the factory-recommended lubricant. If you have opted for something inferior you may be adversely affecting the recommendation. It’s not worth a few dollars to shortcut on the oil.

Track Your Maintenance

Because time is important as well as mileage, it’s nice to try and plan our service visits. The little sticker in the corner of the windshield was a small, important innovation to help us plan. Before that, many people kept a paper record in their glove box as well. But now, with many of us carrying smart phones and having home computers, it’s gotten even easier. MyCarfax is a website and a free smart phone app that will track all of your car’s maintenance needs, making it even easier to keep track of, and plan, your next service.

Read more at: http://www.carfax.com/blog/when-to-change-oil/