Maintenance is all about preventing failure


Maintenance is all about preventing failure. Maintenance costs money. Failure does as well. We are all lead to believe preventive maintenance costs less than the ultimate failure it is designed to prevent. Most of us work for companies that seem to ignore preventive maintenance and instead wait for failure. Do these companies believe it is better to wait for ultimate failure?

I have concluded that companies are run by people. People like to avoid maintenance. It is inconvenient. It seemingly saves money (short term, good for the bottom line). Bosses like a low maintenance budget. Ultimately many failures are not blamed on poor or lack of maintenance. Failures are blamed on poor design, a weak or failure prone system especially when the failure is early. Some failures are just expected. Those “choose a widget” always break after five years.

Your vehicle came with a suggested maintenance plan. It is in your owner’s manual or one of those books packaged with the owner’s manual. It may even be part of the computer information system in your vehicle. If you are super tech savvy you may even be able to find it.

If you take the time to try and comprehend the maintenance your vehicle requires you will probably be overwhelmed either by the lack of maintenance required or completely baffled by when and what needs to be done. I know I am sometimes completely baffled by certain teutonic manufacturers’ maintenance plans.

Usually somewhere in the maintenance litany there will be a suggestion to seek the advice of a professional. They will also suggest that a dealer service department professional knows your car. I would suggest there are many good professional service people that know how to look after your car.

The maintenance plan suggested for your vehicle was probably determined by engineers. They based their suggestions on best practices, combined simulations and maybe even actual real world testing. Did their testing reveal weaknesses that needed to be tended to?

Some people only see maintenance plans as money grabs. “Oil changes and a filter here and there is all a vehicle requires. The rest of that stuff is a waste of money.”

The mechanic in the trenches is the person who sees the results of maintenance neglect. Extended oil change intervals have meant the vehicles coming through our doors are commonly low on engine oil. The engineer said you could travel longer between oil changes assuming you would keep the engine oil level correct. Neither simulated testing nor the real world testing included driving your vehicle with half the amount of oil in it.

The damage done running low on engine oil will not be immediately evident. Engine failure may occur in five years instead of ten years but you won’t know until you get there.

Your maintenance plan may say that your automatic transmission lubricant is made to last a lifetime. Your mechanic has seen the trailer you pull and knows the mountain passes you pull it over.

The breakdown of your transmission fluid will be a lot quicker and require more frequent fluid changes. The engineer did not envision holiday life in the Kootenays.

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