Easily Forgotten Vehicle Maintenance Work for your Vehicles
We depend on our vehicles to get us from point A to point B every day, and keeping them maintained is easy to forget. Newer vehicles can last longer, go further between services, and have fewer issues to worry about. It’s easy to forget about the little maintenance items that don’t occur often. There are ten vehicle maintenance items that you may not worry about. But they can reduce performance and efficiency over time. Keep these in mind, especially if you are looking at buying a used vehicle. They may have been neglected by the previous owner.
Replacing Your Brake Fluid
The brake fluid in your master cylinder reservoir isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about vehicle maintenance. Sure, you check it when you check your engine oil level. If the level is between the min and max on the reservoir, you quickly move on. The fluid in your braking system collects moisture over time. That can lead to rust forming inside your brake lines. Degraded fluid also leads to spongy or less-than-ideal brake feel and response.
There are two types of brake fluid that are most commonly used currently.
DOT-3 DOT-3 brake fluid is used in most passenger vehicles. It should be replaced every time you replace the brake pads. Depending on your vehicle use and type of brake pads, that could be done every couple of years with regular use. If you have a vehicle that doesn’t see a lot of road miles every year, you may want to change that frequency to a time period like two or three years instead of a set of brake pads. You may not replace pads for a decade. Allowing the fluid to sit in your system that long leads to rust and degradation.
DOT-4 DOT-4 brake fluid is used for racing or high-performance driving. It withstands heat better without degradation or boiling. If you’re running DOT-4 in your brake system, you should replace it every other year at minimum.
Whether you need DOT-3 or DOT-4 brake fluid for your vehicle, AMSOIL has a replacement brake fluid that will perform well in your vehicle. If you need DOT-4 for a racing application, AMSOIL also has you covered.
Vehicle Maintenance Replacing Your Power Steering Fluid
If you want a good workout, try driving a vehicle without power steering or one with a failing power steering system. The power steering fluid is meant to keep your power steering pump lubricated and cool. But it often is overlooked when it needs to be replaced. This can initially lead to a distinctive whine from the pump. Eventually it leads to failure on the pump or another component in the system. Power steering pump is similar to brake fluid as it absorbs moisture.
The moisture eventually causes rust in your steering system. When that happens, it’s time to replace the fluid. Your owner’s manual for your vehicle should have a frequency listed for changing the fluid. When that time comes you should replace the fluid with AMSOIL Synthetic Power Steering fluid. When you change the fluid, be sure to run your vehicle for a period of time and allow any trapped air to escape the system.
Changing Your Transmission Fluid
The engine in your vehicles takes all the credit for the power. But without your transmission you go nowhere. Your vehicle may have an automatic, a continuously variable transmission (CVT), or a manual transmission. In any case, it has fluid that should be changed at certain frequencies for proper vehicle maintenance.
Manual Transmissions Manual transmissions are the easiest to maintain as they don’t incorporate a filter inside the transmission. They should have a drain plug and a fill plug on the side of the housing that make it easy to drain and refill the fluid. AMSOIL has multiple options available whether you need a higher viscosity fluid or a low viscosity fluid. Check your owner’s manual or factory service manual for the correct fluid, and keep your transmission shifting smooth.
Automatic and CVT Transmissions If you have an automatic transmission or a CVT, changing the fluid may be a little more involved. It may include a filter inside the transmission. It may have a drain plug on the transmission pan that can remove the fluid, But you will probably need to remove the transmission pan to gain access to the filter inside. AMSOIL has a great selection of automatic, CVT, and DCT products. They’ll keep your transmission shifting smooth and staying cool under any driving condition.
Flushing Your Cooling System
Newer vehicles are starting to incorporate pressure reservoirs. Pressure reservoirs make it difficult to quickly check the condition and fluid level in your cooling system. Over time the translucent plastic reservoir turns a darker color. It becomes easy to overlook your cooling system altogether. Your cooling system keeps the engine cool (hence the name). But it also transfers heat inside the vehicle passenger cabin to keep you warm in the winter months. Allowing your fluid to degrade eventually causes blockage in the engine cooling passages or heater core. This can contribute to an engine failure or a transmission overheating. Or it may just result in a winter without heat in your vehicle.
Check the Manual Your vehicle owner’s manual or factory service manual will dictate the recommended frequency to change your coolant. AMSOIL has three options for replacement coolant: standard, heavy-duty, and low toxicity.
Each of these has a specific function and benefit based on your driving conditions. Extreme high or extremely low temperatures may require the AMSOIL Heavy-Duty coolant. Normal driving conditions are perfect for the Standard Car & Truck Coolant. The low toxicity coolant is the best option if you have children or pets in your garage.
If you don’t have the manuals for your vehicle, AMSOIL offers testing strips that measure the condition of your coolant. They indicate when it is recommended to be changed. AMSOIL also offers a Dominator Coolant Boost that aids in heat transfer to keep your system running cooler in the high heat of summer. It also helps your vehicle warm up faster in winter. It’s a win-win solution!
Change Your Axle Gear Lubricant
We’ve talked about the engine and the transmission. Where would we be without the axle moving power to the wheels? Your axles, gears, and bearings all need to stay lubricated. This is especially true if you push the limits of your vehicle with towing, hauling, or high speeds of the interstate. Your axles don’t have a filter to replace, so draining the fluid is relatively easy. You may choose to take the differential cover off for an inspection. Or, use a vacuum device to suck all the oil out of your differential.
In either case, get as much of the fluid out as possible. When you need to refill the axle housing, AMSOIL has a gear lubricant designed for high-performance or high towing capacity. The best part is that it now comes in a squeezable pouch, making it easy to transfer the fluid into the differential without mess or requiring pumps.
Clean Your Fuel Injectors During Vehicle Maintenance
Fuel injection has been common on vehicles since the mid-1980s, and fuel injectors were starting to clog soon after that. Carburetors can be a little more forgiving to debris in the fuel system, but fuel injectors will clog with just a small amount of debris to block the spray nozzles. As technology increases fuel pressure, combustion pressure, and incorporates direct injection, your fuel system needs to remain clean to keep efficiency high without allowing deposits to form. Don’t allow a reduction in power, throttle response, fuel economy or drivability. Periodically add an AMSOIL gasoline or diesel additive to your fuel system such as AMSOIL P.i. to keep the complete system running smoothly. You can also add an AMSOIL Upper Cylinder Lubricant to help preserve horsepower and performance.
Check or Replace Your PCV Valve & Crankcase Filter
One of the byproducts of your vehicle running is crankcase pressure inside the engine. That pressure needs to be vented, and generally, it is vented back into the air filter housing or directly into the intake manifold. Your vehicle may have a Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Valve, a Crankcase Filter, or both. The PCV valve is typically located on top of a valve cover or on the intake manifold, which makes it very easy to check and replace. To check it, simply remove it from the rubber grommet it sits in and give it a shake.
If it clicks, the metal valve inside is free and able to vent properly. If it doesn’t move, or is sluggish, replace it. It usually is only a few dollars from an auto parts store, but will keep your engine running efficiently. The crankcase filter is usually inside the air filter housing, and it collects oil vapor that comes from the crankcase. They will turn an oily brown over time, and if they are allowed to get dirty enough will clog and block ventilation. They are also pretty cheap and easy to replace. AMSOIL has a complete line of filters available, so be sure to replace them as needed.
Vehicle Maintenance: Replace Your Spark Plugs
An engine only needs fuel, air, and spark to run, in the correct ratios of course. The spark plugs are what ignites the fuel/air mixture inside the gasoline engine combustion chambers, or in the case of a diesel engine spark plugs are called glow plugs. Regardless of the engine type, the plugs degrade over time with normal use. Extreme duty, like hauling or racing, may speed up the process. If you notice a decline in fuel mileage or power output, it may be time to replace the spark or glow plugs. Your factory service manual or owner’s manual should indicate a time or mileage they should be replaced for routine vehicle maintenance, too.
Clean Your Battery Terminals
Over time your battery terminals get dirty or corrode from underhood dirt and gunk. It’s common that they lose the ability to transfer power from the battery to the starter, and it’s always at the worst time. You jump in your vehicle, turn the key, and you hear that tired whir whir whir from a starter that just can’t get the job done. It may not be a dead battery, but just dirty terminals. There are simple tools from a local automotive parts store or an online retailer that will quickly clean the terminals, and then you can apply some AMSOIL Metal Protectant to keep the surfaces clean and prevent another embarrassing dead battery moment.
Replace Your Cabin Filters
Everyone knows to replace the engine air filter routinely, but what about the cabin filter? Cabin filters keep your vehicle’s interior air quality at a high level. It’s meant to filter out dust and debris coming from outside the vehicle on the fresh air setting, or to clean and maintain when your controls are set on recirculation. AMSOIL has a complete line of replacement Cabin Air Filters to keep you system flowing well while keeping the air quality at a high level. If your air vents don’t flow as well as they used to, it may be time to change that filter.
The 10 items listed are commonly overlooked when thinking about maintenance for your vehicle. Items like the cabin filter can be an annual replacement, and you may help the mental reminder by coordinating the replacement with a national holiday or personal date. If you need help with determining a complete maintenance plan for your vehicle, your local AMSOIL dealer at Buy Great Oil is here to help with a complete package of products and hints to make the job easier.