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The Northerner

Regular maintenance can lengthen the life of a car

Josh Blair

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An automobile is a complex, intricate piece of machinery.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of parts that comprise an automobile. Many of these parts are crucial for the car to run, and maintaining those parts regularly ensures the car will last a long time.

The most regular routine maintenance of a car, other than getting gas, is changing the oil and oil filter. The magic number for changing oil is 3,000 miles.

Some factories suggest changing the oil less often, such as at 5,000 or 8,000 miles. Some people go by these guidelines and their cars run fine, but I think there could be a conspiracy behind those numbers.

If you change your oil less often, then it gets dirty and doesn’t perform as well as it should. This, in turn, makes your engine wear down faster. And where do a lot of people go to when their cars has a problem? The dealership. So wouldn’t it make sense for manufacturers to recommend people to do something that would have them come to the dealership to have their car repaired? It makes good business.

Conspiracy theories aside, changing a car’s oil and oil filter regularly are arguably the most important thing to keep a car running well. Just make sure you do it, or have it done, regularly. Also, make sure you’re using a good brand of oil such as Castrol,

Valvoline, Quaker State or Mobil, not some cheap stuff you picked up at the gas station.

Changing the oil is a pretty obvious maintenance requirement, but there are many others that can be easy to forget. Items such as spark plugs, spark plug wires, fuel filters, air filters, oxygen sensors and fluids such as transmission fluid and brake fluid can be easily overlooked, but are all very important.

AAA recommends that an air filter be changed every 12,000 to 24,000 miles. Most air filters can be purchased for about $20. A K’N filter can cost up to about $75, but they have a lifetime/one million mile warranty and they claim to have better airflow which leads to more horsepower and higher gas mileage.

Spark plugs and spark plug wires should generally be replaced every 30,000 miles. Spark plugs emit electricity that ignites the fuel in an engine. Fouled spark plugs can result in poor fuel economy and lowered engine performance.

An oxygen sensor detects if an engine is receiving the proper amount of fuel. Oxygen sensors help lower emissions, improve fuel economy and increase the life of the engine. Oxygen sensors should be changed between 30,000 and 60,000 miles depending on the brand. Some can be expensive, but the money you’ll save in improved gas mileage will most likely pay for itself.

Fuel filters need to be changed from anywhere between 24,000 miles and 100,000 miles depending on the type of vehicle. It’s a good idea to change it every couple of years. Prices vary upon each car. If it’s not very expensive for your car, then change the fuel filter every two years. If it’s costly, then wait every four or five years.

Failure to change the fuel filter regularly could result in lower gas mileage.

Transmission fluid protects the gears of a car’s transmission. The fluid reduces heat and friction among the gears. Failure to regularly change the transmission fluid can result in slipping gears, grinding gears and reduced transmission life. Transmission fluid should be changed about every 30,000 miles.

The most important system in a car in regards to safety is the brake system. Brakes obviously make the car stop, and stopping a 3,000 pound piece of metal that’s traveling 60 mph is a good thing.

Therefore, it’s crucial to properly maintain the brake system. Not only should brake pads be inspected and replaced regularly, but also brake fluid should be changed regularly. The brake system should be flushed about every 30,000 miles. Flushing the brake system removes unwanted air in the brake lines and helps reduce moisture in brake lines, which can lead to the rusting and wearing down of the brake system.

These are just basic guidelines for automobile maintenance. You always want to consult the manual for your specific car to see what’s right for it. Do yourself a favor and go purchase a Haynes, Chilton or factory service manual for your car, that way you’ll know exactly when to service your vehicle. You car will thank you.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Regular maintenance can lengthen the life of a car