Taking your car in for its regular servicing can sometimes feel like a chore, but it is an essential aspect of owning a vehicle and a way to extend its lifespan. While some people might see it as 'taking the car in for an oil change', there's a lot more to it than that.
Aside from changing your engine oil, your mechanic will also be checking a few common parts that need to be changed or topped-up (if it's a fluid). To save you an extra trip to the workshop in the future, the mechanic may recommend replacing a few of these things while you're there for your car's regular maintenance.
For some people, they might find it a little odd or unnecessary. Why will the mechanic recommend changing these parts when your car seems to be doing fine? Well, some car parts need to be changed to prevent problems from happening, so it's normal for a mechanic to recommend replacing them.
Here's a quick look at a few common car parts that are replaced during your car's regular servicing.
One of the most common types of car parts that you'll replace during a trip to the workshop is filters. Here's what you need to know: your car has four kinds of filters. You have the engine air filter, the engine oil filter, the cabin air filter (they might call it the air conditioner's filter), and the fuel filter. They all basically do the same thing. They remove dust, pollutants and impurities from the air, engine oil, or fuel. Good filters enable your car to provide you with comfort and excellent performance.
After a while, each of these filters gets dirty. The dirtier they get, the harder it is for them to do their job, which results in a drop in performance or comfort. So, when you bring your car into the workshop, they'll check these filters and might recommend changing them right then and there. Thankfully, filters usually don't cost much and changing them doesn't take long.
Your car also has many different fluids, such as the engine's coolant fluid. Over time, your vehicle's fluids will gradually reduce, which is normal. However, if fluids reduce too quickly over time, that might indicate that your car has a leak!
If your coolant level is lower than average, your mechanic will offer to top up your coolant back to where it should be. They'll also check the entire cooling system for signs of a leak. If there is a leak, it might be located somewhere on the coolant hose or head gasket.
Brake Fluid Flush
Your brake system also relies on fluid, in this case, the brake fluid. Sometimes, mechanics will recommend doing what's known as a 'break fluid flush', which means replacing that liquid. This is necessary for a few reasons.
You see, each type of fluid in your car interacts with car parts differently. In the case of brake fluid, three things happen: it gets exposed to heat, it gets contaminated, and most importantly, it's 'hygroscopic'.
By hygroscopic, we mean that brake fluids attract moisture from the air. This is bad in the long run because your brake system is made of metal parts. What happens when metal parts get exposed to moisture in the brake fluid? That's right: rust or corrosion sets in. You don't want this to get so bad that the brake system fails completely, so be sure to get your brake fluid flushed!
Aside from moisture, your brake fluid is also exposed to the heat generated by the brake system. That long-term heat exposure gradually breaks down the fluid, which makes it less effective at its purpose.
With all this in mind, be sure to change your brake fluid periodically!
Power Steering Fluids
It's easy for us to take for granted our power steering systems since we're so used to them. These systems also rely on another kind of fluid, the power steering fluid. It's also essential to change or flush this fluid from time to time, for reasons similar to that of changing brake fluids as mentioned earlier. Again, some of the liquid will reduce naturally over time, but if it happens too fast, that means there might be a leak. Your mechanic should know to look for these leaks, but don't be afraid to remind them to give it a thorough check.
What you need to be aware of is how you'll be affected when the power steering fluids are too low. As you might imagine, low power steering fluid will affect your steering. You may feel that it's more challenging to turn your steering wheel than usual while making a weird whining noise when you do. If you notice these symptoms, be sure to mention it to your mechanic so they can look at your power steering system much closer.
Engine Oil and Filter
Now, the last fluid on this list: your engine oil. This is usually the main reason you're taking your car in for maintenance anyway.
Engine oil works by lubricating the engine's insides and absorbing heat, allowing everything to function smoothly.
Every few months or after a certain amount of mileage, you're supposed to take your car in for an oil change. Just like the fluids mentioned earlier, all that exposure to heat breaks down the engine oil and makes it less effective at what it's supposed to do.
In many cases, the engine oil is changed alongside the engine oil filter, together as a package deal. Heck, some workshops might even throw the filter in for free as part of a promo.
Last but not least, we have your spark plugs. To recap, spark plugs generate the initial spark that combusts the fuel and air inside your engine. This continuous flow of sparks happens at a very high rate the entire time your engine is on, so it's natural that they get worn out after a while.
Sure, spark plugs are designed to be very durable. Even when they do get worn out, they'll continue to function by generating sparks to keep your engine going. However, if you do not change a worn-out spark plug, your car will suffer from performance issues.
Your engine will probably continue to run, but your fuel efficiency may drop, the engine may misfire, and your acceleration may be terrible. Overall, your engine will function, but it won't perform well. So, if your mechanic suggests changing your spark plugs and its been a while since you've done that, it's probably a good idea to take that suggestion.
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By Ray Hasbollah