"With Care, Autos Can Last Longer"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, March 21, 2015

A question about how we fuel up would probably be answered with another question, “Fuel up what?”

How about a scooter or motorcycle. Don’t you read the pump and determine the content such as; additives or octane?

You probably try to match the recommendations of the manufacturer of your vehicle.

How about an old pick-up or beater car. You just fill it up with the least expensive fuel. The service manual is a thing of the past and was only a few pages to begin with.

In the past, recommendations were few: check the oil, fill to indicator on dipstick. At many stations, you could find bottles of oil next to the pump so you could add a bottle when needed. There was no weight or SAE notifications, just motor oil.

As products advanced, manufacturers began to note specifics such as: 30W, or 20W on the oil containers. It seemed like each company had a favorite weight. Next came the new listings, 10W30 or 10W40 and each engine required a varying specification.

Combustion engines continued to advance and so did the additives used for their maintenance such as: upper lube, thinner, heavy oil, even grease. There were recommendations based upon temperature in which you operated your vehicle. The colder the temperature, the thinner the suggested lubricant and if it dropped below freezing, you had to add alcohol to keep your coolant circulating.

As years passed the treatments for engine mechanical upkeep keep advancing. New products: anti-freeze, water pump lube, sealants and conditioners came along. They all claimed to extend the life of your engine.

In today’s auto parts stores you can find row upon row of oils, greases, paint, polish, belts, tires and owner’s manuals. There also is an eager salesperson ready to sell you a battery, radio, wiper blades, headlights and seat cushions. There are thousands of items replacing the two or three of the past, each just what you need to keep your equipment in tip-top shape.

In years past, most counties such as ours had only a couple of auto parts stores and each specialized in different brands. You could buy bearings, seals, brake parts, lubes and even special tools to assist you to do-it-yourself (now better known as DIY). You also could take your vehicle to the local dealer and have it serviced. Repair shops and service stations could be found in every town in the county. Larger areas had multiple choices. Some were best for oil changes or brake repairs, others specialized in electronics.

Then the big box stores arrived on the scene. They sell everything: food, clothes, TVs and auto parts. They soon pushed all of the small businesses aside and became the only choice for most supplies. However, the choice of where you have repairs made or buy your supplies may result in determining the life of your vehicle.

It’s been my experience that using popular brand name and high quality items provides a longer life of the parts changed. I always seek out qualified personnel when repairs are needed. Even if you feel you’re capable to do it yourself, you should still use better, quality parts. Be sure treatments you add to your engine are compatible. Some manufacturers recommend certain actions while others declare those same actions to be detrimental.

Ladies — and I know you are bored with this column if you have read this far, I do have some advice for you. If you are not capable of taking care of your own vehicle maintenance but prefer to avoid dealership prices here is my tip. Check around and find a reputable service stop, there are still many around with skilled workers who can help you out. You will have to make an appointment, but it will be beneficial to do so.

Here is another tip for the ladies, and gents. Check around for parts outlets that will check your vehicle with electronic equipment that provides a read-out determining what is needed and why. For no extra charge, they will install a replacement, if you have a failure. I did discover after receiving the service, they can accept tips.

I replaced my vehicles every two or three years for a long time. But since I purchased my current one in 2008, I have not had a need for much service and I hesitate to replace it.

The better care you take of a vehicle, the better it will perform for you and the less service you will need.

Note: Parents of teenagers: make them read this!



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