The Best Maintenance tips for your vehicle !
At Great Falls Auto Service in Sterling, we know the key to making your vehicle last, good maintenance. An overwhelming percentage of the problems we see, especially the really catastrophic ones, are a result of poor maintenance. While properly maintaining a vehicle can seem a like a bit of a hassle, it is absolutely worth the payoff. Good maintenance is the only difference between a car that lasts 80,000 miles and a car that lasts 400,000 miles. Preventative maintenance and repair when a problem occurs are are your two concerns, and both will keep your car on the road far longer, if observed properly.
Preventative Maintenance - Preventing a problem before it occurs is the best way to maintain a vehicle. Parts, fluids, and adjustments all have certain lifespans, and knowing when to maintain them will prevent a failure or a chain reaction of failures.
Depending on the vehicle and oil you use, oil changes must be made every three to five thousand miles. You won’t notice an immediate difference if you go over that; in fact, you can probably drive on the same oil for thirty thousand miles before the engine ever misses a beat. Unfortunately, by then it’s too late; oil sludge begins to build up as oil breaks down, and all it takes is a minuscule amount of sludge to clog the filter, the pump, or a tiny oil vein in the engine. We’ve seen it countless times, an entire engine ruined because somebody didn’t sacrifice the ten minutes it takes to get an oil change often enough. The importance of oil changes really can’t be overstated.
Front end alignments at regular intervals will keep your tires, suspension, and front end components from wearing out. Front end alignments are inexpensive and don’t take long, but they prevent the wear and tear of thousands of dollars worth of time-consuming repairs. Parts replacement should not only be done when a part breaks. For example, a ten-dollar timing belt breaking will often result in well over a thousand dollars worth of bent valves, piston, and head damage, so they must be replaced prior to failure. A cheap and simple brake pad change will prevent damage to rotors, calipers, spindles, etc. Your service manual and our mechanics can tell you when you should replace certain parts before they fail.
Our team can also inspect parts for signs of imminent failure, catching trouble before it causes any damage. Keeping a car washed and waxed isn’t important to its mechanical condition or drivability, but it will save your paint and keep your vehicle looking like new. This is something you can do yourself, and you’ll be happier with your car every time you look at it. Maintaining a vehicle's paint also prevents rust, which makes your car last much longer. Once rust starts it is difficult to get rid of, so do what you can to keep it at bay. Preventative maintenance is your line of defense against premature vehicle failure, and while it’s easy to forget when your car is running fine, it is extremely important to observe.
Repair - Sometimes parts do fail, no matter how well you maintain a vehicle. When they do, it is important to repair your vehicle quickly and correctly. Band-aid solutions or improper repairs will ensure the problem comes back sooner rather than later, and increase the chance of damaging other components. Ignoring an issue after it becomes apparent, even if the car is still drivable, is also a huge mistake. Putting off repair of a squealing brake will soon cost you a rotor or worse, ignoring a loud wheel bearing will damage everything around it (or even cause the wheel to fall off,) and neglecting frayed belts or loud pulleys will eventually leave you stranded.
Fixing problems as soon as they occur will save you money, and keep your car in top shape. Fixing rust spots and body damage will prevent larger rust spots and keep your vehicle in good condition. Hanging bumpers and splash guards or loose parts as a result of body damage can come off and damage other parts while on the road. Fixing these issues not only keeps your vehicle looking good, but functioning correctly as well. The important thing to remember is that part failure is generally not isolated, but part of a chain reaction. A part either fails because there is a problem somewhere else, or a failed part causes other parts to wear out and fail too. When you see a car on the road and think “wow, that car is in great shape for its age,” it isn’t necessarily because it’s low mileage. With proper maintenance, a 300,000-mile vehicle can look and feel as good as one with a tenth of that mileage.
With our help at Great Falls Auto Service, you can keep your car on the road for years to come, and one day you’ll have that car that still looks great and runs impossibly well for its age. Let our technicians take a look at your car, truck, van, or SUV, and we’ll guide you to a long-lasting future for your automobile!