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Domestic Automotive Maintenance: 5 Preventative Maintenance Repairs

Jan 24, 2008
Preventative maintenance is important because it keeps your car running smoothly, avoiding the problems that come from a lack of care. Having your car serviced at a good foreign or domestic automotive maintenance shop is important to ensure that it gets the best care possible.

Here are some of the standard foreign and domestic automotive maintenance procedures that you should be sure to have done periodically:

Oil Changes: This is one of the most obvious, yet it is also one of the most frequently overlooked. Changing your oil and oil filter every three thousand miles keeps your engine running smoothly. Not changing your oil and oil filter often enough, on the other hand, can be disastrous: Over time, the additives in your engine oil break down, and the oil becomes thick and sludge-like. When this happens, the oil creates resistance on the engine, causing buildup and premature wear. Old engine oil can also cause the rubber seals in your engine to prematurely dry out and crack, creating leaks that can be quite expensive to fix.

There are a lot of quick-lube places that will change your oil quickly and cheaply, which may make you question the need to take your car to a good foreign or domestic automotive maintenance shop. However, it is definitely worth the extra money to make sure an experienced professional services your car. It is not uncommon for quick-lube shops to employ inexperienced teenagers at minimum wage, and horror stories (driving off without oil in the engine, finding months later that the oil plug won't come out because it was stripped) abound.

Air Filter Replacement: Replacing the air filter is another important precaution that many people forget about. The silly thing is that this is also the easiest thing you'll have to do on your car. Just as easy, if not easier, as filling the washer fluid on some cars. In fact, this one is so easy that you may not even have to get a foreign or domestic automotive maintenance shop to do it for you. Just make sure you get a high quality replacement filter. If you are not sure where it goes, ask. There will be a couple of clips you'll have to undo to open the air filter box, but that's about it.

Your air filter should be replaced once or twice a year. Every six months, you should at least check it. If it looks dirty, replace it. The better airflow your engine gets, the better it will perform, which to you means higher gas mileage and lower maintenance costs over time.

Basic Tune-Up: A tune-up basically involves replacing a bunch of inexpensive, quick-to-wear-out parts, and checking out a bunch of more expensive, slower-to-wear-out parts. This should be done once a year, but again, many people aren't very good at making sure it gets done regularly.

A basic tune-up involves replacing (or cleaning and re-gapping) your spark plugs, replacing your distributor cap and rotor, and checking and/or replacing your spark plug wires. Other parts that might need to be replaced during a tune-up are your PCV (positive crankcase ventilation valve) and your oxygen sensor. All of these can affect the way your car runs, causing your gas mileage to go down and the carbon monoxide in your exhaust to go up.

Radiator Flush and Coolant Replacement: Your cooling system is a vital system. It prevents your engine from overheating, which can ruin an entire engine in mere minutes. Your cooling system therefore ought to be treated with respect, which means flushing your radiator and replacing the coolant every year or so, preferably at the end of summer or fall, before the cold weather hits.

The reason for flushing your radiator and replacing the coolant is that the Ph balance in antifreeze breaks down after a while, destroying many of its protective properties. Not only will it not cool to as low a temperature, but it will also begin to allow rust to form in your cooling system, which may lead to premature leaks in your radiator.

Be sure your replacement coolant is half water and half antifreeze. The 50/50 mixture has the lowest possible freezing temperature, the highest possible boiling point (meaning your coolant won't boil on hot days), and will protect against corrosion inside the system.

Automatic Transmission Fluid and Filter Replacement: Many people don't realize that their automatic transmission contains fluid and a filter that need to be replaced periodically, just like an engine. Unfortunately, neglecting this maintenance repair can result in parts in the transmission going out more quickly than they should, requiring you to overhaul or replace your transmission, which is a costly venture, to say the least.

The fluid and filter in your automatic transmission should typically be replaced about every 25,000 miles, which is less than a year's worth of driving for most cars. The oil in a standard transmission doesn't need to be replaced as frequently. Replacement about once every couple of years, unless you happen to do a lot of hard driving, such as towing.

Keeping up on these five preventative maintenance repairs will ensure that you maximize the life of your car. A good foreign or domestic automotive maintenance shop can help you keep track of the required maintenance, making sure that you don't miss anything important.
About the Author
Andy West is a freelance writer for DAE, which offers valuable auto repair coupons for domestic automotive maintenance in the Houston area.
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