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FAQ: Maintenance
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) >Maintenance
High Mileage Vehicle Inspection and MaintenanceOBD I and Prior Check Engine LightOBD II Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL)What type of motor oil is recommended
Why cars need preventive maintenanceWhy timing belts need replacement
High Mileage Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance

Fixing Your Present Vehicle Saves Money


Most of us want to get the most for our motoring dollar. One of the best ways to do this is extending the life of your current vehicle. With new car prices in the United States averaging well over $10,000, money invested in keeping your existing vehicle in good shape could save you hundreds--even thousands--of dollars a year. When you consider the true cost of buying a new car (price of the car, sales tax, license and registration fees, insurance), it is not difficult to justify investing a few hundred dollars to repair your present vehicle.


Safety and Scheduled Maintenance


The safety aspect of properly maintaining your vehicle, especially when it has high mileage, should not be overlooked. Failing brakes, exhaust leaks and other problems can be prevented by following sound car care practices.


Unfortunately, most manufacturers only provide maintenance guidelines for the first 100,000 miles or so. Clear procedures for maintenance beyond this mileage do not exist. At best, manufacturers provide interval service schedules, such as every 15,000 miles. These schedules should be followed whenever possible. By doing so, you can reasonably expect thousands more satisfactory miles from your vehicle.


High Mileage Inspection and Evaluation


If your vehicle has passed the 100,000 mile mark and you want to significantly prolong its useful life, it is time to have it thoroughly evaluated by a professional automotive technician who can recommend needed repairs or service. This facility is equipped to perform this service. We employ technicians who use factory-level information detailing your vehicle's service requirements.


Our high mileage inspection and evaluation goes beyond cursory "once-overs" and is designed to get to the root of potential problems. Ask your service advisor or technician to show you exactly what is involved in this service. He or she will be happy to go over the evaluation form with you before you okay the inspection and provide you with a comprehensive estimate for any work recommended as a result of your vehicle's checkup. They will tell you about repairs that are necessary today, and also alert you to items that are potential problem areas you may want to address today for more trouble-free miles tomorrow. Naturally, you make the decision as to what work is actually performed.


Working together, we can add years to the life of your car or truck.


 


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OBD I and Prior Check Engine Light

The emissions malfunction indicator on pre OBD II vehicles (most models prior to 1996) is known on some models as the "Check Engine", "Power Loss", "Service Engine Now", or "Service Engine Soon" light. This light is intended to alert the operator when there is a failure in the system that may cause an increase of harmful emissions.


The light illuminates when the ignition key is in the ON position and the engine is OFF; this is to functionally test the system and check the bulb. When the light turns ON during engine operation, even momentarily, a system diagnosis is necessary to determine the fault.


When the light is ON steady it means there is a fault currently detected. If the light illuminates and then turns off it can mean that the fault is intermittent or that the fault is only being detected intermittently. In either case, if the light is intermittent it usually means the technician will have to try to recreate the operating conditions under which the light illuminates in order to diagnose the problem.


Diagnosis of an intermittent problem is more difficult, sometimes a hit or miss situation, and sometimes requires bringing the vehicle in several times before the fault is located. Although this warning lights purpose is to warn of increased emissions, in most cases if the system is not promptly repaired, damage to other components can occur.


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OBD II Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL)

When the ignition switch is initially turned on and the engine is not running, the malfunction indicator lamp lights for a bulb check. While the engine is running, the MIL will light only if there is an emissions-related concern.


The on board diagnostic (OBD) generation two (II) system continuously monitors all engine and transmission sensors and actuators looking for electrical faults, as well as values that do not logically (rationally) fit with other powertrain data. When certain operating conditions are met and a comprehensive monitor detects a failure that will result in emissions exceeding a predetermined level, the computer stores a diagnostic trouble code, and illuminates the MIL.


The OBD II system also actively tests some systems for proper operation while the vehicle is being driven. Fuel control and engine misfire are checked continuously, catalyst efficiency, exhaust gas recirculation operation, evaporative system integrity, oxygen sensor response, and the oxygen sensor heaters are tested once per trip when prerequisite operating conditions are met. The computer will illuminate the MIL if during these prerequisite operating conditions the system detects a failure that will result in emissions exceeding a predetermined level.


Whenever an engine misfire severe enough to damage the catalytic converter is detected, the MIL will blink on and off.


Once lit, the MIL will remain on until the vehicle has completed three consecutive good trips (three trips in which the fault is not detected). The MIL is also turned OFF when stored diagnostic trouble codes are cleared. However, the MIL will only remain OFF if the fault is successfully repaired.


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What type of motor oil is recommended

Use the type of motor oil specified in your customer's owners manual. Most manuals say it's okay to use a variety of viscosity grades depending on temperature conditions. Generally speaking, the following holds true:



 





  • 10W-30 is best for all engines for year-round driving. 10W-40 is more popular in the aftermarket, but 10W-30 is actually a better oil because the additive package in it holds up better over the long haul. This is why General Motors does not recommend 10W-40 motor oils for any of its cars.




  • 5W-30 is approved for most late-model four-cylinder, V-6 and V-8 engines on a year-round basis. It is not approved for many turbocharged or diesel applications, some high output V-8s, or applications involving driving at sustained highway speeds or towing in hot weather. It may not be the best choice for older, high mileage engines.




  • 5W-30 is used as the factory fill oil on most new cars because it pumps through the engine more quickly after start-up (important for keeping overhead cams properly lubed). It also makes cold weather starting easier and reduces fuel consumption.



  • Straight viscosity oils have limited temperature ranges and lack the versatility of multiviscosity oils. They can be safely used as long as their temperature limits are observed.

  • Straight 10W is okay for cold weather starting and driving, but too thin for warm weather driving.

  • Straight 20W is okay for all around driving, but doesn't provide the temperature protection of straight 30W (which gets too thick at low temperatures for easy cold starting).

  • Straight 40W and 50W oils are primarily for heavy-duty applications.



 





  • Special multiviscosity oils such as 2OW-50 are typically formulated for racing or severe duty applications such as towing.




  • Synthetics are a good alternative for any of the above because most provide extended temperature protection and service life.




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Why cars need preventive maintenance

Why Preventive Maintenance


Manufacturers know that a properly maintained car will be more dependable, safer, last longer, and increase your satisfaction with their product. Car makers and owners also have a responsibility to make sure emission controls receive regular service and are functioning properly. Regular maintenance helps accomplish these goals by keeping your engine running efficiently and eliminating potential problems that may leave you stranded.


What's in it for you?



 





  • More Dependable Car




  • A car that retains the "new car feel"




  • Less chance of a costly breakdown




  • A safer car for you and your family




  • Doing your part for cleaner air




  • A car worth more at trade in or sale




  • An intact warranty




Manufacturer Maintenance Schedules


The manufacturer creates detailed maintenance schedules outlining specific operations to be performed on various components and systems. This is done at different mileage intervals to ensure proper operation and prevent premature wear. The manufacturer also indicates what services must be done to maintain the factory warranty and extended warranty.


ALLDATA(R) Automotive Information System


This service facility is equipped with an automotive information system that provides this detailed data. The ALLDATA(R) system even lists high-tech specialty lubricants required for your particular car. Other information includes vehicle specific repair and diagnostic information and factory-issued Technical Service Bulletins. The bottom line is efficient, dependable and cost-effective service for you.


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Why timing belts need replacement

What is a timing belt?


Timing belts have replaced timing chains on many of today's engines. Both belts and chains ensure that crankshaft, pistons and valves operate together in proper sequence. Belts are lighter, quieter and more efficient than chains.


Why replace the belt?


Like other components, timing belts wear out. Proper maintenance requires belt replacement at regular intervals--before they break.


Where are the belts located?


Timing belts are on the front of the engine protected by a plastic or metal cover.


When should belts be replaced?


When a timing belt breaks, the engine stops. Replace belts before this occurs. Most manufacturers provide a suggested service life and replacement schedule for this critical component.


How do I know if my car has one?


Your vehicle manual may tell you, but you should ask your technician--he will know for sure.



What is a "Free-Running" engine?


If the timing belt breaks on a free-running engine, the engine stops and you will need a tow to the repair shop. No mechanical damage occurs and the installation of a new belt is usually all that is needed to get you on your way.


What is an "Interference" engine?


If the timing belt breaks on an interference engine, mechanical engine damage occurs. It most commonly involves open valves being struck by pistons, resulting in the need for expensive repairs. In extreme cases, a replacement engine may be required.


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