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Engine Fluids & Maintenance; What You need to know

Date Added: November 17, 2009 04:01:11 AM
How often should you change your oil?
How often should I change my transmission fluid?
How often should I change drive train fluids for rear wheel drive and 4 wheel drive vehicles?
At what mileage should I start performing maintenance on my vehicle?
Is it expensive? ... Why should I do it?

These are all great questions!
Unfortunately there are as many answers as there are brands of oils on the market today.

      Vehicles today are capable of driving 200,000 – 500,000 miles on the original drive train parts. Most fluid changes cost between $19 – 100. The part the fluid protects costs between $1,500 – 10,000 and more!
Once a vehicle arrives at the 80,000 – 100,000 mile mark, the fluids have outlived their useful life span. They are no longer able to fully protect your vehicle.

      All vehicles have a manufacturer recommended service schedule. What most people do not know is there is up to three different maintenance schedules per vehicle. They are based on the kind of driver you are, the climate you live in and what the vehicle is being used for.
The oil life indicator on most vehicles today does not take these situations into consideration. They use a generic interpretation from above or only one of the above methods. They also do not take into consideration what brand or type of fluid is being used.

      Most vehicles today that use the extended drain interval either recommend the use of synthetic oils or require them. The reason for this is the engines, transmissions and drive train components operate at a higher temperature and performance level than they did 10-15-20 years ago. Synthetic oils can last longer under extreme conditions without failing to protect the part they are lubricating. They also are much less likely to cause build up and leave behind sludge.

      As of 1998 and newer, ALL vehicles either recommended or required the use of synthetics. Not all synthetics are created equal. Many of the name brands on the shelf are not true synthetic. They are derived from conventional oil … (oil from the ground) and have been purified and have had additives added back into them so they can legally be called synthetic. These additives do not protect the vehicle once they are used up. A true synthetic is man made and uses almost no convention oil in it whatsoever.

      Synthetic oil as a whole will not break down and leave your vehicle unprotected. Synthetics also improve fuel economy and eliminate costly part failures. They reduce our dependency on foreign oil and result in less byproduct being put in landfills.
Most conventional oils for engines will not last beyond 3,000 miles. Most synthetic oils on the market do not protect the engine beyond 5,000 miles.

      You should also take into consideration how good is the oil filter being used, can it continue filtering? How good is the air filter that keeps dirt out of the engine and how well is the rest of the vehicle maintained?
There are oil changes using specific synthetic oils that will allow you to go 25,000 miles at a cost that is less expensive than most people spend on oil changes combined in one year using conventional oils. You can also find drive train fluids that are approved for 250,000 miles, which exceeds the manufacturer recommendations and can actually save you money in the long run.

      Here are some basic rules on average for changing your engine oil:
•Change every 3,000 miles when using a good conventional oil
•Change every 5,000 miles when using most synthetic oils
•Change every 25,000 miles when using an Amsoil synthetic (

      Engine coolant should be flushed every 3 to 5 years to eliminate major part and gasket failures. Small particles will break off into the cooling system thus turning the coolant into very fine sandpaper, tearing away at the metal and gaskets within the engine.

      Transmission fluid should be flushed every 30,000 – 60,000 miles to eliminate transmission fluid related failures and extend the life of the transmission. Most transmissions fail due to some sort of fluid failure.
Differential fluids should be changed every 60,000 – 100,000 miles to reduce and eliminate bearing failure
Fuel injection services should be performed annually to eliminate carbon build-up of the inside of the engine. This build-up lowers fuel economy and engine performance and causes other hard part failures.

      Timing belts are the most common cause of engine failure today. Timing belts should be changed every 60,000 – 100,000 miles. There are more cars seen in service at the 80,000 – 125,000 mile mark that have not had the timing belt replaced. The broken belts result in major engine damage thus ending the life of the vehicle due to expenses involved in repairing or replacing the engine. Check your owner manual, local dealer or trustworthy repair shot to see if your vehicle has a timing belt and when it should be changed.

      When it comes to your vehicle maintenance, it is always best to err on the safe side … your vehicle is usually the second most expensive item you own.

      People who regularly maintain their vehicle never have major breakdowns or costly repairs and their vehicle will last 200,000 – 500,000 miles! Approximately $500 per year spent on maintaining your vehicle for five years is $2,500 … a new engine or transmission can cost up to three times that amount!