Category Archives: Service Intervals
Have you ever noticed that your vehicle manufacturer has a schedule in your owner’s manual for what is called “severe service” maintenance? Let’s define what severe driving conditions aren’t: The easiest driving a vehicle experiences is traveling on the interstate for twenty miles or more at a constant rate of 65 miles per hour in 75°F weather with only passengers on board. Change any one of those parameters and you are adding stress to your engine. Change them significantly, and you are driving under severe conditions.
Let’s look at the essential parameters one a time. First, the length of the trip. Short trips around Des Moines are harder on an engine than longer ones. As your engine cools down, water in the air condenses onto the engine. When you heat the engine again, the water evaporates off. This is healthy. But on short trips, the engine doesn’t stay hot enough long enough for all of the water to evaporate so it starts to build up in the engine oil leading to sludge, which can clog up your engine and lead to serious engine damage. If most or all of your trips around Altoona are less than four miles, you should look at using the severe service maintenance schedule. Changing your oil more frequently at Des Moine BDG in Des Moines will help prevent the formation of sludge.
Each minivan engine has a “power band,” or the range of RPM’s in which it runs most efficiently. Generally this power band falls in the range of IA highway speed driving. So if you’re driving around town in Des Moines all the time, your engine has to work harder. That’s why MPG ratings are so much better on the freeway than in the city. Again, this type of driving is considered severe and requires more frequent maintenance for your transmission, cooling system and brake fluid.
Most of us Des Moines auto owners think of severe IA weather conditions when we think of severe driving conditions. And we’re right. Cold Altoona area weather takes its toll on the oil in your vehicle. Remember how water has to evaporate out of the oil to keep your engine healthy? It can take up to ten miles of driving for an engine to get hot enough to get rid of moisture in the oil when the weather is cold.
Hot Des Moines weather is also harmful for minivans. When an engine runs, it gets hot. The longer it runs, the hotter it gets. If it gets too hot, it breaks down. So it has to be constantly cooled to keep running. Hot IA weather means your cooling system has to work harder to keep your engine from getting too hot.
Another critical element of severe driving is the conditions we drive through. Dusty, polluted Des Moines areas are detrimental to your filters. Dirt, dust and contaminants will also get into your fluids, and they’ll get dirty faster, so they’ll need to be changed more often as well. Finally, when you’re pulling a trailer around Des Moines, carrying heavy loads or using a car-top carrier, you are putting more stress on your engine. The engine, transmission and brakes are all working harder to handle the extra load.
So, in the end, most of us Des Moines auto owners drive under severe conditions some of the time. Smart Des Moines drivers will ask themselves the question: “Should I follow the severe service maintenance schedule?” An honest evaluation of our driving habits is the best way to determine which schedule to follow.
Nowadays, Des Moines auto owners are paying more at Altoona gas pumps. For some families in the greater Altoona area, it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That’s got to come out of the budget somewhere. This is one of the reasons many IA drivers are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.
Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local Des Moines, IA freeways have over 75,000 miles on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in Altoona can’t afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a break down. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.
Determining what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many car maker’s manuals don’t publish service intervals after 60,000 miles. Thus, Des Moines motorists need to be better at keeping records and planning for preventive maintenance.
You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you’re past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles. Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles for as long as you have your car.
Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some Altoona automotive experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners’ manual or service advisor at Des Moine BDG to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.
And keeping current with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your minivan.
Another equally important reason is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.
And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain important additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.
Older vehicles in the Des Moines, IA area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don’t. Things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.
With a high-mileage minivan, a couple of relationships will become pretty important to Des Moines motorists. The first is with your service professional at Des Moine BDG. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget, and for the Des Moines, IA area driving conditions.
The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We’re not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean – pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to yourservice advisor at Des Moine BDG and head off problems. We can’t do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local Des Moines, IA roads.
Take a look at the attached automotive tips video from AutoNetTV.