Monday, October 12, 2009

Tips To Lower The Cost Of Servicing Your Car

I just typed something long and detailed but I know no one has time to read it so this is my compressed tips.

1. Read the Warranty

Read it so you know, when to service your car and what parts are covered. It tells you things that will void/cancel the warranty. Its nice to be worry free for the first few years of owning the car.

2. Say No to Additives

If they offer you any kind of additives, say no. No car manufacturers recommend additives to their engine. Its waste of money. Reject it and smile back the sniving mechanic/

3. Read the Car Manual

If the Warranty Card does not tell you the service interval, refer to the car manual. Most service centre will tell you, that you need to service every 3 months or 5000km. Unless your car manual states that, don't believe them. Go with the recommended interval by the manual. Now most cars can be service at every 10,000km or 6 months, or 20,000km or 12 months.

4. Severe or Normal Driving

Severe drivings includes:
  • Driving high speed with temperatures exceeding 37 degrees Celsius
  • Excessive stop and go driving or idling
  • Driving in mountains
  • Driving in salt air
  • Car used as a taxi or rental
  • Towing trailers.

If you have more than one of these conditions your car, stick to the severe schedule, even the severe schedule sometimes never go low as 3 months or 5000km

5. Lubricants

Back in the old days when cars were invented, we only have mineral based lubricants. So its not surprising for the 3 months/5000km service interval. However over the years, say 100 years, technology in car lubricants has improved, so please chuck that 3 months/5000km interval out of the windows. Car manuals only states the viscosity of the oil, now whether it should be mineral, semi synthetic or fully synthetic. However please refer back if they do recommend any, but in my 6 cars experience, only the 190e, with the car manual sponsored by oil company had brand recommendation (guess by whom?)

Rule Of Thumb To Choose a Lubricant

  • Mineral Oil

Comes in 20w-50 viscosity. Its the cheapest oil. It basically means the oil is thicker and mineral based. Used for older engine whose parts are looser over the years, so you need the thicker oil to cover it.

  • Semi Synthetic Oil

Comes in 10w-30, 10w-40 or 15w-45, and 15w-50. Combination of mineral and synthetic oil. Most common use oil for current engines.

  • Fully Synthetic

Comes in 0w-30, or 5w-30. 100% man made/ synthetic. Used in high performance engines or those who extends their service interval

6. Service Interval

Modern cars can last more than 5000km or 3 months before its next service. Open your manual and you will find that for normal driving it will be 10,000km or 6 months.

Rule of Thumb Interval

Mineral - old engines interval can be extended up to 6 months, but the distance between the changes can vary between a few hundreds kilometers to 10.000km. A well kept engine can be extended up to 10,000km. Modern mineral oils have their own additives to protect your engine.

Semi- Most commonly used. 6 months/10,000km is the norm for this lubricant and for new cars.

Fully synthetic - Used in engines that has long interval change 12 months or 20,000km or high performance engines.

Well that is all for my tips, based on my experienced. My mechanic said, my old 190e Mercedes has no sludge built up, which is the result of my care when servicing engine. The only problems we have now, is that the car is old and most parts are at the end of their service life. Most important is to trust the manual and then get a mechanic that you can trust.

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