The Importance of Scheduled Maintenance
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It seems like regular maintenance on your car should be a no-brainer. Most men and women in southern California use their cars to travel to and from work; keeping up with a machine that you use daily is just common sense, right?
The automobile may be a machine but it is a large and complex machine, much like you. If you imagine the human body as a machine maintained by a harmonious interworking of organs and blood, brains and heart, you will have a basic idea of a car. You stay healthy by eating right and getting exercise. In the same way, proper and scheduled maintenance will keep your car running in tip-top shape.
No Sweat: The Radiator & Coolant System
When you overheat, you perspire to cool you down. Your car doesn’t sweat; it has coolant. An automobile engine can generate temps over 500 degrees Fahrenheit and if all that heat were left inside your car it would quickly have explosive consequences. Coolant (usually a mix of water and antifreeze) is pumped through the engine, absorbs heat, and is pumped back to the radiator where the heat is dispersed (“radiated”) away from your vehicle. Modern radiators are usually made of plastic, which expands and contracts. A radiator should last at least ten years but eventually it will wear down and crack. Keeping an eye on your radiator, making sure your thermostat is regulating your coolant properly, checking hoses, those are all the duties of your car technicians.
Be Flexible: The Timing Belt
Your car is not a collection of random gizmos and gadgets. It is a precision instrument. Your timing belt ensures that the camshaft and crankshaft are connected and that your auto remains mobile. Think of the camshaft as the valves in your heart, opening and closing. The camshaft opens and closes the engine’s valves in time with the crankshaft, which is connected to the pistons inside your engine. The linear energy from the pumping pistons is converted into torque (rotational energy) by your timing belt. It keeps everything moving in the proper direction. Typically made of synthetic rubber, older timing belts are good for 60,000 miles. Newer belts should be replaced every 100,000 miles but, as with everything, it all depends on your driving habits. The dry Southland climate can turn belts brittle sooner than their wetter NorCal counterparts, and infrequent use can cause belts to be deformed. Inspect those belts for wear and tear!
Blood Simple: Engine Oil
Engine oil is amazing stuff. It lubricates the engine and absorbs its heat. It also absorbs acid and the water and combustion byproducts that accumulate in your engine. But fail to replace your oil in time and these properties gradually fade. Oil from leaky seals can also corrode your belts. Maintaining a regular automotive service schedule means maintaining healthy levels of all fluids (gas, coolant, transmission, brakes), but clean oil comes first. Oil is your engine’s blood.
Your body replaces its own blood over time, but before you start feeling superior, remember this: You can’t run sixty miles an hour on the freeway when you’re late for work. So do what’s best for your car’s health and your own and schedule regular fluid checks and tune-ups with the auto docs at ACA.