Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shortening the lifetime...

Automotive Tip of the Month: Since clearly I can't keep up with every week ;). Lifetime fluids - anything but. A lot of the newer cars come with what the manufacturers call lifetime fluids. The joke among car nuts is that they are lifetime fluids because when the parts associated break, then you change the fluids thus it lasted the lifetime. For example, BMW claims their transmission and rear-end oils are lifetime. If you really let them go much over the 60-100k part failures increase in those areas. Lifetime fluids are better thought of as extended service. So instead of every 30-50k changing them, you should change them every 60-100k. More if you can afford to do so. In other words, in this case, just because the factory says it is okay doesn't mean it really is. This is showing up on oil changes as well. Many manufacturers (BMW among them!) are starting to go to very long service intervals on the oil (some up to 30k!!). While it is justifiable under certain circumstances, and the car can sometimes handle it, why would you really take the risk on something that typically costs you less than 100-200 a year to do regularly? One engine component failure and you'll have more than paid for anything you saved. And I don't mean big things like bearings, pistons, rods, etc. Often sensors (like a cam sensor) will fail because of the buildup of gunk on the sensor, if the oil was changed more regularly it wouldn't happen. I've seen it happen on PCV valves as well. The manufacturers started doing this because for lease and new car owners and those with service included during the first few years it increases customer satisfaction and lowers dealership overhead for those cars. So it is a win for the dealer and in some ways the first owner. Everybody down the line after loses though! When it comes to vehicles, being proactive and doing more than the recommended maintenance often pays off in the end.

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