(SAN DIEGO, Oct. 1, 2009) – Can you imagine driving your vehicle more than 328,219 miles? The Automobile Club of Southern California’s Steve Moxley can, because he’s followed a regular vehicle maintenance schedule for his 1985 Nissan truck -- which he has driven 1,000+ miles a month since the early 1990s.
Moxley is the second owner of his vehicle, inheriting the blue truck from his father when the vehicle had 60,000 miles. That means that the younger Moxley still put 268,000 miles on the truck.
How does he do it?
“It’s simply perfect fluid maintenance,” said Moxley, of the Auto Club’s AAA Approved Auto Repair Program. “I’m religious about changing the oil regularly and also keeping the brake and transmission fluids clean. Proper maintenance on a regular schedule is also critical to safe operation of a vehicle as well as the safety of the driver and passengers,” Moxley added.
You can, too, if you start caring for your car beginning in October during AAA Car Care Month when the AAA Car Care package is offered at a special value price.
Below is a fluid maintenance list that Moxley follows and that the Auto Club recommends:
1. Engine Oil
Without an adequate supply of clean oil, your engine will wear more rapidly and could even seize or be destroyed. Oil doesn’t freeze like water, but its viscosity, or thickness, does increase as the mercury drops. Lighter grade oils reduce the load on your car’s battery and starter, allowing more rapid cranking and starting. Lighter oils also reach critical engine lubrication areas much quicker than heavier oils, greatly reducing wear.
Change your engine’s oil and oil filter at the specified intervals, and follow the more frequent “severe service” recommendations if your driving habits meet any of the conditions described in your owner’s manual. Always use the weight of oil recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer for the existing temperature conditions.
2. Brake Fluid
The fluid in your car’s brake hydraulic system transfers your foot pressure at the brake pedal into stopping power at the wheels. An adequate supply of clean brake fluid is absolutely essential for safe vehicle operation. Old, moisture-contaminated brake fluid, or a low fluid level that allows air to enter the system, can lead to brake fade or a complete loss of braking power.
Inspect the brake fluid level at every oil change. If the level has fallen below the “low” mark on the fluid reservoir, it usually indicates major brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system; have the brakes inspected as soon as possible. Your brake fluid should be clear, if it’s not, it likely needs to be flushed.
3. Transmission Fluid
Improvements in transmission fluid have increased its expected life. New cars don’t need fluid level checks or adding fluid, since fluid is going to last the car’s life span.
Check the owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended replacement schedule, and frequently requires the replacement of a filter as well. Understanding the schedule protects your transmission from premature failure and also eliminates an unnecessary fluid change.
Severe driving conditions such commuting in Southern California can shorten transmission fluid's life. A dark brown color, accompanied by a burnt smell, is an indicator that the fluid needs to be changed and/or flushed.
Anti-freeze contains additives that prevent corrosion in the cooling system. When these additives come to the end of their lives, wear and corrosion begin. Sediment builds up in the cooling system, causing a loss of cooling ability. Flushing is required for proper operation.
Many new cars come with anti-freeze designed to last four or five years, but the ordinary product found in most auto parts stores is good for only two years. It's important to know what type of antifreeze you have so you can avoid spending money unnecessarily to replace it.
Inspect the anti-freeze/coolant level and condition, making sure the proper mixture of water and coolant is used according to specifications in the owner’s manual.
5. Power Steering Fluid
Inspect power steering fluid for proper level and condition. Low power steering fluid can cause famage to the power steering system, and dirty and/or burnt power steering fluid can lead to premature power steering failure.
6. Windshield Washer Fluid
Don't leave home without fresh windshield wiper blades and the "forgotten" fluid, windshield washer fluid. Fresh blades and windshield washer fluid will help to remove road dirt and insects from your windshield. Use pre-mixed fluid, not water from a garden hose. The premixed fluid won't harm exterior vehicle paint.