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The Other Maintenance

Many automotive service centres will try and sell you various maintenance procedures that you might not find recommended in your owners manual service schedule. Do you really need to have these procedures done or are we just after your wallet?

There is a motto that a mentor of mine had that has always stuck in my head. “The guy who wrote the book never saw the car.” I think this saying has a lot of merit when it comes to automotive maintenance and repair.

The list of procedures in your new vehicles maintenance schedule is a lot shorter than it used to be. Lately some manufacturers are offering free maintenance for two, three, or more years. As you can imagine a list of free things is even shorter. The people that service these vehicles for the almost ten years that most of them ply our roads quite quickly recognize what the manufacturer had failed to foresee when it comes to maintenance.

Some examples of these missed steps follow.

There are a lot of service schedules that “fuel filter replacement” is no where to be found. I guess the manufacturer thinks that it is best to only change the fuel filter when it plugs up enough that you notice a problem with the way your vehicle is running. There are two major problems with this approach.

When that filter finally plugs up solid and your vehicle starts running poorly it is probably not going to happen where getting it repaired will be convenient like on your way to the Grand Canyon with a car load of happy campers.

Secondly as your fuel filter was gradually blocking up your fuel pump has been working double duty squeezing fuel through it. Guess what on the way back from the Grand Canyon you might have to stop for a new fuel pump.

Air intake cleaning is another service you will not find in any manufacturers vehicles maintenance schedule.

The advent of port fuel injection (and now direct fuel injection) meant that fuel is no longer distributed through the intake manifold. The fuel from a carburetor or throttle body fuel injector did an excellent job of keeping the intake manifold free of deposits. Now deposits from exhaust gases, and crankcase ventilation are steadily building in your intake manifold.

These deposits cause the most trouble in the throttle plate area as they slowly build up behind the throttle plate. Because idle speed is electronically controlled these build ups can lead to an uneven idle at best or even stalling at worst.

A more costly result of air intake deposits is when mass airflow sensors get dirty. In many vehicles this is the sensor that measures the airflow into the engine and this is used to calculate the fuel required but it is also used as information for the automatic transmission on some vehicles.

The vehicle owner will not recognize soon enough when this sensor is dirty. The engine electronic controls can compensate for sensor errors but some vehicles that use the sensor information for transmission fluid pressure can end up causing the transmission to slip and wear out prematurely.

Regular intake air system cleaning could prevent transmission failure on these vehicles.

It is very likely that your repair and maintenance professional has some procedures he/she is telling you that you should do and he/she is probably recommending them from past experience.

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