21 February 2024
Why Prompt Vehicle Servicing Is Crucial

Just like a stitch in time saves nine, prompt servicing in time saves your peace of mind.

Believe it or not, there are car owners who think that regular vehicle servicing is a conspiracy theory solely meant to enrich oil companies and spare parts manufacturers.

Well, here are two examples of engines, one out of an Infiniti and the other a turbodiesel Mercedes-Benz powerplant, that have been so severely neglected that their internals end up caked in sludge. Not to mention these engines have also self-destructed.

Here are some regular maintenance items to keep an eye on.

Engine Oil & Filter

Oil is the lifeblood of an internal combustion engine. It not only lubricates but also cools the engine as one drives down the road.

Without prompt and regular oil changes, an engine will not function well. In some extreme cases, it might even erupt violently while throwing a rod out the side of the engine block and leaving the owner stranded.

Imagine shelling out thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars to replace a blown engine because an owner was “too frugal” to spend on regular oil changes. Penny-wise, pound-foolish.

Along with engine oil, the oil filter needs to be replaced at the same interval as well.

If the interval calls for 10,000-kilometre oil changes or every year, whichever comes first, then follow it strictly. A couple of hundred kilometres or a couple of weeks either side of that interval is fine, but never let it get past that.

Even if you don’t use your car regularly and don’t clock the required mileage, the oil still needs to be changed periodically due to degradation from occasional cold-and-hot cycles.

Remember, oil is cheap but engines are expensive. Taking care of your engine is the best prevention tactic.

Transmission Fluid

Just like engine oil is the lifeblood of an internal combustion engine, transmission fluid is the lifeblood of a gearbox.

Manufacturers in recent times have been touting their transmission fluids to be “lifetime fluids” or “sealed for life.” We all know what happened to those transmissions, which proceeded to grenade themselves after a prolonged lack of transmission fluid changes.

‘Lifetime’ in manufacturers’ parlance likely means the warranty period or 100,000-kilometres. Why? Simply because they want you to buy more vehicles from them sooner!

Adopt a servicing regime of every 60,000 to 100,000-kilometres for your transmission fluid and your car will chug along happily. Even if the owner’s handbook doesn’t specify any intervals at all, it is good to keep this in mind.

This is also applicable for continuously variable transmissions or CVTs. Always ensure the correct fluid for the respective transmission is being used.

Engine Air Filter

Imagine someone plugging up your nostrils to a tenth of their regular size and you being forced to breathe through those tiny orifices. Difficult isn’t it? Likewise, your vehicle’s engine needs to breathe freely to run at its optimum.

The period to change the engine air filter can vary anywhere from every 50,000 to 80,000 kilometres, but follow the interval stated in your owner’s handbook and your engine will be much happier for it.

Cabin Air Filter

Just like the engine needs to breathe clean air, so do you and the occupants of your vehicle. Cabin air filters need to be changed every 20,000 to 30,000 kilometres, more so if the occupant(s) smoke(s).

A clogged and dirty cabin air filter will affect the efficiency of the vehicle’s aircon, and may also introduce foul smells into the cabin. For the sake of your health and that of your loved ones, have it changed regularly.

Timing Belts (and Chains)

Timing belts should be regularly replaced. The first replacement usually is at 100,000 kilometres, and subsequently every 80,000 to 100,000 kilometres thereafter.

A timing belt change will also usually involve changing out the coolant pump and coolant, as well as idler pulleys and tensioner bearings.

coolant pump with timing belt

Neglect this, and when the timing belt shreds itself to pieces, expect valves to make contact with pistons and carnage inside the engine to ensue. A timing belt replacement costs far, far less than an engine replacement.

A timing chain system, in theory, is meant to last the lifetime of the vehicle. In practice, chain guides can disintegrate and come apart, and chains can stretch. These can lead to valves making contact with pistons, leaving you with an ugly mess.

An experienced mechanic will know how to promptly identify the symptoms of a failing timing chain system, and remedy it with a new chain, tensioners and chain guides before calamity strikes.

Valve De-carbonisation

Purely direct-injected engines have issues with carbon building up on the intake valves. This is due to a lack of solvent (petrol) flowing over the valves to keep them clean, which is what a port injection system would do.

Some manufacturers such as Toyota have incorporated both port- and direct-injection, and such internal combustion engines do not require valve de-carbonisation.

If your vehicle’s engine is purely direct-injected, adopt a valve de-carbonisation servicing regime every 60,000 to 80,000 kilometres. This is a rather involved process, so leave at least half a day for it.

Neglect it, and expect the engine to run rough, skip timing and at worst, drop a valve into the combustion chamber and cause the engine to wreck itself.

Tearing Your Hair Out Yet?

Well, don’t.

Just realise that there’s more to car ownership and maintenance than the items stated above, such as changing spark plugs, brake fluid flush, periodic tyre rotation and wheel alignment, aircon and engine refresh, etc.

If this is way over your head, and all you want to do is drive your vehicle, there’s a ready solution for you.

AutoApp can handle your car’s servicing needs and keep you updated along the way.

Our panel of partner workshops are carefully curated to offer the most optimal and timely servicing solutions for your car. We’ll even remind you when your next servicing is due so that you don’t have to worry about getting it done on time.

Other safety-related and maintenance checks such as the wear of brakes, wipers and tyres are checked during servicing with Autoapp.

Leave the hassle to us. Let go, let AutoApp.

Download the app here.

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