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Auto maintenance (vs lawn mower)
Old 07-10-2008, 08:34 AM   #1
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Auto maintenance (vs lawn mower)

The recent thread on the lawnmower warranty issue motivated this:

New car warranties are typically written in terms of e.g. 15000 mi or 12 mo WHICHEVER COMES FIRST describing when you should (must?) have certain work done. Yet if you don't drive much and have just 5000 mi when 12 mo. come up, it seems such a shame to pay the large amounts for that periodic scheduled maintenance esp. when a large part of the task is INSPECT as opposed to REPLACE/PERFORM (no way to know if INSPECT was actually done).

What things should(must?) be done on a time basis even with low mileage?
I could see oil/filter changes on the grounds of low mileage associated w/ city driving being more harmful than high mileage related w/ freeway driving being in this category (besides it doesn't cost that much). Does coolant system flushes belong in this same category? What else belongs here?

If you did just the tasks clearly related to time on a time basis and left the others to be done on a mileage basis, what do you think the manufacturer would do if you had a warranty issue with the latter?
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:56 AM   #2
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I have always changed my own oil (using the specified grade, etc.,) and filter (Nationally recognized brand, usually FRAM), recorded the date, saved the receipts. BTW I always used what the Manufacturer recommended as far as miles went, usually between 5,000 and 7,500 miles (current vehicle manual recommends 6,750 miles between changes). I do not subscribe to the BS of "every 3,000 miles" as it IMHO is a waste of money. I have never had a major engine warranty claim in about 35 years of new vehicle ownership. All that other stuff contained on the list, (check this, adjust this) I do myself. I do pay attention to such things dealing with the power train i.e, flushing and replacement of transmission fluid that IMO are best left to a professional since I am not comfortable doing some of that stuff. I watch the power train stuff since, in may cases, the PT warranties go well, in time, beyond the 3 or 4 year bumper to bumper ones. My current B2B is 4 years but the PT is 7 years. Coolant change, in my current manual, is 100,000 miles as are spark plugs. I do have a gauge to watch the Anti-freeze level since I do live where it gets cold but even that would be a waste for me as I am retired and the vehicle is always in the garage when not being driven.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:52 AM   #3
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Timing belt timing belt timing belt. replace according to time or mileage, whichever comes first. It's rubber, under tension, and just sitting takes a set, which gives stress points when you fire up the car after it's been sitting for a week or so. You do NOT want to deal with the consequences of an interference (valves - piston face)engine when the timing belt breaks. Agree that dino oil is fine with 5000- 7000 mile changes. Cooling system and brake fluid flush every couple years - for my old clankers, mostly when i'm doing the brakes or the water pump has failed. Wiper blades annually at least.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:07 PM   #4
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Timing belt timing belt timing belt. replace according to time or mileage, whichever comes first. It's rubber, under tension, and just sitting takes a set, which gives stress points when you fire up the car after it's been sitting for a week or so. You do NOT want to deal with the consequences of an interference (valves - piston face)engine when the timing belt breaks. Agree that dino oil is fine with 5000- 7000 mile changes. Cooling system and brake fluid flush every couple years - for my old clankers, mostly when i'm doing the brakes or the water pump has failed. Wiper blades annually at least.
Timing belt - needs maintenance

Timing chain - better, but need to have it checked every so often.....
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:39 PM   #5
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OAG has things pretty well covered.

I do pretty much the same, though my wheels are long past any warranty. Regarding anti freeze checks: if you have Dex-Cool or similar - the orange/pink stuff, it can not be tested with the usual hygrometer, (ball thingy in a tube), since it does not wear out in the usual manner.

Testing requires spectrometer, most auto shops have one. No this is not the movie version of a mass spectrometer, it is a rather simple optical gizmo, looks more like a penlight with some graticules in it.
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:46 PM   #6
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Agree that dino oil is fine with 5000- 7000 mile changes.
If dino oil is good for 5k to 7k miles, how long is synthetic oils (Mobile 1) good for under normal driiving conditions?
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:49 PM   #7
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If dino oil is good for 5k to 7k miles, how long is synthetic oils (Mobile 1) good for under normal driiving conditions?
Probably 10,000 these days.

Oil, like cars, is better than in years past. I think synthetic is overpriced, so I stick to dino...........
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:26 PM   #8
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Any consensus on how long tires should be expected to go? The crappy stock Bridgestones on my car were more than done at 50k, but I am over 80k with the Michelins I replaced them with and they appear to be perfectly fine (plenty of tread, etc.).
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:32 PM   #9
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Any consensus on how long tires should be expected to go? The crappy stock Bridgestones on my car were more than done at 50k, but I am over 80k with the Michelins I replaced them with and they appear to be perfectly fine (plenty of tread, etc.).
As long as they have good tread, no sidewall cracking and are less than 6 years old, they should be OK.

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Old 07-10-2008, 02:36 PM   #10
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As long as they have good tread, no sidewall cracking and are less than 6 years old, they should be OK.
Good tread, sidewalls in shape. The tires have been on the car for 2 1/2 years and since I bought them from Costco I don't imagine they sat around in a warehouse for a long time, although I'd have to check.
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:40 PM   #11
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... since I bought them from Costco I don't imagine they sat around in a warehouse for a long time, although I'd have to check.
Probably so, but check those DOT codes for mfg date just to be sure.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:06 PM   #12
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Probably 10,000 these days.

Oil, like cars, is better than in years past. I think synthetic is overpriced, so I stick to dino...........
There may be one but I never saw a warranty manual that said synthetic or other "long life" oil was covered.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:27 PM   #13
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Generally the additive package in the oil is pretty much shot between 5 and 7,000 miles, whether the oil is synthetic or not. Its a real pennywise/pound foolish option to try to extend much past that range. On the other hand, its pretty wasteful to go with the Jiffy-Lube marketing campaign sponsored method of changing your oil every 3,000.

Every real world test I've seen done in the most horrid conditions show that oil and its additives is still plenty viable at 5,000.
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:25 PM   #14
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For the last 5 years of my Festiva I took it in once a year (less than 5000 miles); since I now have a car under warranty, I take it to the shop every 6 months.
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:03 PM   #15
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Synthetic vs. dino oil debates can rage like a religion discussion, but one hard fact remains - many manufacturers now require synthetic for warranty coverage. Mostly luxury vehicles (e.g. the entire MBZ line from 2000 on, if I'm not mistaken), but make sure and check before dumping dino in a new vehicle.

Also, while one can debate how quickly different oils break down, the greater concern to many is particulate accumulation. For dino oils with normal change intervals, it's probably not a concern. If running synthetics with extended change intervals, one might consider swapping oil filters half-way through the change interval. There's plenty of debate about this as well, but for me, it falls into the category of cheap and easy insurance...$10 every 5K miles, and 10 minutes of my time.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:23 PM   #16
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All our daily drivers have oil life monitors that track engine speed and temperature to determine when to activate the "change oil" light. We go about 50% highway/suburban driving and it generally takes 6k or more miles to activate the light. Owner's manual dictates 12 months maximum if light has not activated in that time. Minimum mileage I have seen is 4500 and maximum is about 9500. This system is very eco-friendly and cost effective. I would probably run synthetic oil 2x as long, but the oil life monitor does not know what you're running.

Tires- just not a fan of super long life tires. The tread lasts so long because the rubber compound is "hard" and I've seen many with decent tread and lousy traction. Personal preference is new shoes at 50-60k if you're driving at highway speeds in rain or snow. Six yrs sounds about right. Keeping them properly inflated and rotated is the key
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Old 07-11-2008, 06:22 AM   #17
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When they were under warranty I had everything done at the dealer and kept receipts to eliminate any "discussion" over whether required work was done. After warranty I do it myself unless the weather's bad. Oil is Wal-mart synthetic, Purolator filters.

Lots of good information on tires at Safercar.gov. I bought new AAA tires for the car last spring, the truck still has the originals on it. The tires make a lot of difference, the car handles and brakes much better.

Just read and follow what the owner's manual says. Some things do deteriorate with time - belts and hoses for example - even if the car is not being driven. Antifreeze is another as it has corrosion inhibitors in it. The book says five years on antifreeze, I do it every three years based on what a couple of mechanics have told me.

Keeping them in a garage if you have one makes a world of difference. I've noticed that since we moved to a house with a garage. They don't get heat soaked in the summer, which causes a lot of damage/deterioration from heat and UV light.
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:21 PM   #18
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Thanks all for the ideas........decided I was living on borrowed time with the tires, belts,
hoses, and esp. the timing belt which I was trying to maintain on the mileage clock rather than the time clock. Held my breath and took the slow (non-freeway) route to
the wrecking yard to claim the state (CA) buyback reward for gettting rid of old smog-prone vehicles. The faithful '86 Maxima made it under its' own power and formally qualified for the reward and I am breathing again.
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