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Author Topic: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!  (Read 8608 times)

ljnowell

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Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
« on: December 14, 2008, 12:31:29 am »
Routine maintenance seems to be something that gets posted about frequently on most forums with this one not being an exception.  Many people have different ideas of routine maintenance.  Almost all car dealers have their own routine maintenance schedule which may or may not be the same as the manufacturer of the products they sell.  Below are some of the regular items that are "upsells" in dealerships and private shops.  Many of these are big money makers for the shops but that doesn't mean that they are a gimmick.  Quite the opposite really.  As an ASE Master Tech I can say without hesitation that a car that receives its recommended routine maintenance will last longer than one that does not.  The people you see bragging about 500k on a Toyota or Honda (usually bad-mouthing a domestic) will have had these services performed, without exception.

1. Transmission Flush.  Many people argue its not needed.  That couldn't be farther from the truth.  An Automatic transmission should be flushed anywhere from 30-40k, for peak longevity.  There are some exceptions to this.  There is a type of fluid being used now that has the initials WS (World Standard).  This fluid is rated at 60K for flush life by most manufacturers that use it. Does your vehicle have it? One way to tell is by looking for the dipstick.  If it doesn't have one, then yes, you more than likely do have it.  At most Toyota dealerships they will still recommend the flush to occur at 30k.  Is it needed?  In my opinion it certainly wont hurt.  Whether or not the fluid is in great shape or not there can and is still going to be debris floating through the fluid that can damage components.  Another think to consider is this, is it too late to do a flush?  If you have more than 75K on the fluid you need to examine the fluid closely to see if it is burnt.  If the fluid smells burnt or is black, a flush is probably not a good idea.  At that point you tend to do more damage by removing the old fluid.  In many cases the clutch material and debris floating through the fluid is what is keeping those discs grabbing.  Once the damage is done, flushing wont fix it.

2.  Coolant Flush.  Coolant flush should be done every 30k or 2 years.  Without exception.  Even long life antifreeze.  Anyone that has seen what happens when dex-cool, Ford Long Life, or any of the others turns acidic would never let it happen. Modern engines have aluminum and iron components both exposed to antifreeze.  When the coolant turns acidic and flows through the system you end up with "Two dissimilar metals in the presence of electrolyte", for the laymen, you just created a battery.  With the residual voltage that will be present your engine will begin the electrolysis process.  This will damage the metal components inside the engine leading to intake and intake gasket failures, water pump failures, radiator failures, etc.  Many mechanics (myself included) will recommend that you flush out GM DexCool or any other long life antifreeze and replace it with plain old green antifreeze (ethylene glycol).

3.  Brake Flush.  This is by far one of the most overlooked maintenance items by most consumers, with most disastrous consequences.  Brake fluid is hygroscopic(attracts water).  When your brake fluid turns nasty colors and becomes contaminated it has many adverse effects.  The first being that it loses some of its hydraulic properties.  This equals poor braking.  Also, the fluid closest to the wheels gets hot from the friction of the brake linings.  When this fluid is moisture contaminated it will actually boil, greatly reducing braking capacity.  Contaminated brake fluid is also to blame for master cylinder, caliper, and wheel cylinder failures.  It will also cause brake lines to rust from the inside out.  If you look at your master cylinder and see black funk in the bottom of the reservoir, or see dark fluid, it needs it, pronto. Many dealerships will recommend this at 60K.  

4.  Power Steering Flush.  No, I am not kidding you at all.  In modern vehicles (even trucks now) rack and pinion steering is pretty commonplace.  When power steering fluid gets nasty, dirty, and water contaminated, it will spread the debris through the rack and pinion system.  A rack and pinion replacement on a newer vehicle can easily top 1000 dollars.  And then they will HAVE to flush the lines to get the mess out or the new one will fail too.  Most dealers will recommend this every 60-90k.  This is money well spent.  

5.  Fuel Injection Service.  Once again, this is something that is recommended around every 30k.  There are many different kinds, some hook to the fuel rail, some are hooked a vacuum line, etc.  I personally prefer the kind that go through the vacuum lines.  They tend to do better on the intake itself.  Most of the vacuum line cleaners also use a secondary cleaner poured into the tank to clean the injectors(fuel rail systems clean the injectors on its way into the engine).  The biggest benefit of these, in my opinion, is the cleaning of the intake valves and the combustion chambers.  Ever try to start an old car with a carb when its cold outside?  The gas hits the dirty carbon covered back of the intake valve and solidifies and drips into the chamber making it very hard to start.  Fuel injected cars will do this too, to an extent.  That being said, these are wonderful for keeping things clean and keeping an engine starting and running well.  

6. Timing belts.  It is imperative, without exception that you get the timing belt on a car replaced at the right interval.  Toyotas will generally be 5 years or 90K.  Some older Toyotas, Hondas, etc will have a 60k or 80k interval.  This must be done.  Many of these engines are interference engines.  This means that if the cam(s) and crank lose their connection (the belt) the pistons will contact valves.  This can do anything from cause you to need valves, a head, cams, or a whole new engine.  Its not worth it.  Don't think you are getting ripped off if they want to sell you a water pump at the same time.  On many small car engines the water pump is a high failure item and it is right there when the timing belt is done.  Usually it will only cost the part and a little more to do it.  Its worth it.

There are exceptions to every rule and many of these items can be performed at home with either the same quality of service or an acceptable level of quality.  Post if you have questions about trying some of these yourself, advice is free in this forum.
Exodus 22:2
"If a thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed"

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    Dirk Pitt

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #1 on: December 14, 2008, 12:52:18 am »
    I was driving down the road the other day and noticed my maintenance light flicked on in my 1990 Montero, checked the odometer and I'd just turned 80k miles.  Now this car is fairly new to me, was a gift from an uncle, and being nuts about cars I was kinda hoping that I could handle most of the routine maintenance.  First off do you recomend anything other than that which you've listed for an 80k maintenance?  Secondly what can I realistically do myself and what do I need to take it to a mechanic for?

    Thanks for the help.
    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." (George Orwell)

    Sea Dog

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #2 on: December 14, 2008, 02:07:13 am »
    I tested cars at various automotive proving grounds for 18 years (program manager type). I pretty much just change the oil every 5000 miles and take my cars in for the major services, namely the 30, 60, 90k or whatever the owner's manual calls for. These service intervals normally cover what jnowell listed. The timing belt is a biggie. I don't recommend fudging that one. As to Dirk's question, the days of the "tune-up" are long gone and the mechanic is now a technician. Some newer cars have in the neighborhood of 60 control units and it takes specialized training and a very expensive computer to diagnose and flash software and basically figure out what is wrong. There are some things you can do yourself and some things that are best left to trained professionals. The best advice I can give is to change your oil regularly and follow the owner's manual for all other maintenance items.

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    ljnowell

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #3 on: December 14, 2008, 03:39:48 am »
    I was driving down the road the other day and noticed my maintenance light flicked on in my 1990 Montero, checked the odometer and I'd just turned 80k miles.  Now this car is fairly new to me, was a gift from an uncle, and being nuts about cars I was kinda hoping that I could handle most of the routine maintenance.  First off do you recomend anything other than that which you've listed for an 80k maintenance?  Secondly what can I realistically do myself and what do I need to take it to a mechanic for?

    Thanks for the help.

    Your vehicle is due for its timing belt, assuming it hasnt been changed yet, or within the last 5 years.  The timing belt on the montero's is a little more complicated than some, but not impossible for a do it yourselfer.  The question is what level of experience do you have?  Have you ever changed a water pump on an engine?  Whats the farthest you feel comfortable taking something apart?  What kind of tools do you have.  I can get you the diagrams and step-by-step instructions with illustrations if you would like to tackle the job yourself.  Just let me know as I dont mind getting them and emailing them.  I consider it my service to my gun loving community.  ;D

    You should check your transmission fluid.  If its still in good shape thats good, now is the time for maintenance.  If you would rather not pay for a flush, thats ok, as long as the fluid still looks and smells good.  You can pull the pan off the trans and remove all the fluid that comes out(its gonna be messy!).  While the pan is off what I like to do is remove the fuel pump or ignition fuse, or disable the vehicle from starting in any way you like(those are just the easiest, IMO).  With a pan under the trans crank the engine over.  The engine turning will turn the transmission pump and remove a little more fluid.  Replace the filter and refill the trans.  In a transmission that isnt having any issues, and the fluid still looks good, this is a sufficient service. 

    Check your power steering fluid, see if it looks milky or discolored.  If so you can in fact remove most of it in a few different ways.  One of which is to suction out the fluid from the pump reservoir and replace it.  Start the vehicle turn the wheels lock to lock 10 times or so and then do it again.  Keep doing this until the fluid looks good.  It will use some fluid this way, but still cheaper than paying to have it done.  Also, you can take the pressure line off at the steering gear(the box the steering linkage is connected to) and drain fluid from it directily and from the reservoir.  Repeat if necessary.  Its not uncommon for the steering to make some noise from the air in the system.  Usually I find that if you lift the front end so the tires are off the ground the wheels turn easier and the system removes the air faster.  Dont freak out if the fluid looks all kinda weird while doing this.  The air bubbles will make it look seriously funky. 

    The brakes are probably due for the service, and if they have never been flushed I am sure that your reservoir looks like hell.  You can purchase cheaply a hand held vacuum pump like this one http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=92474.  I actually have that exact one and use it all the time.   Its quality metal body constructed and builds excellant vacuum.   You can use it to suck all the fluid out of the reservoir.  Then take a cloth and wipe out the grime, etc.  Be sure not to pump the brakes during this process.  Refill with clean fluid, all the way up, past the full line.  Go to the rear passenger wheel and break the bleeder loose.  Put a little grease on the vacuum line and put it on the bleeder and slowly pull a vacuum on the bleeder.  Watch the color of the fluid that comes out.  THe reservior included with the pump for this is clear so its handy.  When its half full, go to the front of the vehicle and refill the master cylinder.  The goal is to never suck air into the lines.  Move to drivers side rear, passenger front, then drivers front.  When you refill the last time, dont overfill the master cylinder.  This will accomplish a brake flush that costs around 100 dollars.  Including the cost of the pump you can pull it off for 30 bucks and have a good pump for the next time.  Check those brake pads and springs, etc while you are there. 

    If you are interested in cleaning up the injectors etc, there is a product out called B-12 Chemtool. Autozone sells it.  It comes in a little metal bottle.  I like to start the vehicle and pull off a vacuum line and stick it in the can.  The engine will start to sputter.  Open the throttle enough to keep it running.  It will blow nasty smelling white smoke all over hell and back.  Thats good, its doing its job.  When you have fed the whole can, rev the engine some until it smoothes back out.  Then add a second can to the fuel tank to clean the injectors.  This will pretty well do exactly what those 100 dollar injection system services does.  I like to do this before I change the spark plugs.  When you are done you will notice a big nasty pile of black crud on the ground where the exhaust was blowing out.  That lets you know its working good. 

    Plugs, wires, cap and rotor will round out your maintence and give you a vehicle that is ready to put some more serious mileage on before needing service again.  If you are not mechanically inclined there is no reason you cant do everything but the timing belt.  I will be more than happy to answer any questions you should run into while doing any of this also. 
    Exodus 22:2
    "If a thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed"

    THE NORSEMAN

    • To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them. - Richard Henry Lee
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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #4 on: December 14, 2008, 11:52:36 am »
    Don't forget the spark plugs. Change them when reccomended.  If you don't, you'll be putting strain on much more expensive ignition components as the plug firing resistance goes up.
    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction- St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries

    Dirk Pitt

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #5 on: December 14, 2008, 04:31:31 pm »
    Realistically my level of experience isn't much.  But I would heavily lean on my father who grew up back in the day when you did all this stuff yourself.  I can also read and follow diagrams and instructions so I would certainly love the opportunity to tear apart the water pump myself :D.  I actually  have a set of brake pads on order so I might as well tackle the flush while I'm at it.

    As to the injectors those have already been cleaned out fairly recently.  The ECU blew a few transistors shortly after I got it, just my luck, and an injector went wide open and flooded the engine.  So I found a good mechanic who cleaned it all up for me, the dealer said the engine was gone because it hydro locked under power.  What the dealer didn't comprehend was that the ECU gave out while I was trying to start it in a parking lot.  But that is a story for another time.

    The plugs where changed when the ECU went so those should still be fine, the rotor and cap where replaced a bout a year ago so I don't know if they still need replacing but I'm not the expert here ether.  The wires however are the original one's I was told so I was planning on replacing those and checking to see that the hoses where still holding up well.

    My goal is to do everything that is reasonable myself and to learn in the process.  I love cars and have always dreamed of being able to work on them but the fact of the matter is I haven't had any real experience working on them.  The big thing is I want to learn.

    One last question, where do you recomend getting parts from?  I've ordered a few things from summit racing, pretty much just shocks and boots.  How do you guys feel about online distributors like Summit, O'riley, Jegs, and JC Whitney?
    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." (George Orwell)

    ljnowell

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #6 on: December 14, 2008, 08:41:29 pm »
      The big thing is I want to learn.


    That really is the most important thing.  I find that a motivated individual can teach themselves a lot. 

    If you are going to replace the plug wires,  I would probably replace the cap and rotor at the same time too, if it were me.  Although if you inspect them for wear at the contacts and look for any signs of burning on the rotor they may be fine to use.  Usually price is what comes to mind.  If you can get it cheap go ahead and replace.  As for the plugs you should remove them and check the gap on them.  Another one of those things that doesnt cost you anything and gives peace of mind. 

    If you have an Autozone/Advanced Auto/Checkers/Oreillys/Napa near you I would go to them for parts.  Usually the cost is less than ordering online and if you have a problem with a part or get a wrong part in the right box(happens more often than people think) you wont have a long wait time to get it resolved.  I also like to deal with a real person instead of a voice on the phone.  It gives me someone to chew on when things go wrong.  ;D

    If you need any diagrams, specifications, etc, feel free to ask and I will get what I can and get it to you. 
    Exodus 22:2
    "If a thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed"

    THE NORSEMAN

    • To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them. - Richard Henry Lee
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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #7 on: December 15, 2008, 07:37:16 am »
    Regardless of who you use for parts:

    Most parts stores have 2 or 3 lines from cheap to premium.  Go mid-grade or premium.  There's a reason that they're more expensive.
    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction- St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries

    ljnowell

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #8 on: December 15, 2008, 11:59:42 am »
    Regardless of who you use for parts:

    Most parts stores have 2 or 3 lines from cheap to premium.  Go mid-grade or premium.  There's a reason that they're more expensive.

    Yes, that brings up another interesting point that a lot of people fail to realize.   There is a big difference between Remanufactured, Rebuilt, and new.  New means ALL components are new.  For the sake of discussion we will use a starter.  In a new starter everything including the nosecone and motor case is brand new. Never  bolted to anything.  In the situation of a rebuilt starter all of the maintenance or wear items are replaced and everything is returned to stock specs.  That means that brushes are replaced, typically a new solenoid would be installed, new terminals, etc. In a lot of situations a rebuilt unit utilizes the case of the part and new internals.    A Reman unit is a whole nother critter though.  A reman starter may have nothing replaced but what was broken.  If a stater comes into the reman shop with a broken plunger (the part that relays the solenoid travel to the drive gear) that is  all that will be replaced.  The brushes, magnets, terminals etc will be cleaned and it will be given a fresh coat of paint.  Its basically a used starter that had been repaired to work again.  The failure rate of a reman part is, as you can guess, much higher. 

    As far as other things, such as brake parts and whatnot, it still benefits to buy the better part.  Autozone will have a base line of pads with a one year warranty and another set sold under the same name(duralast) with a lifetime warranty.  These are the same pads the only difference is the warranty.  They will then also have another level of pads that are usually a ceramic pad with a lifetime warranty.  Typical price spread could be cheap-$15, lifetime-$29, top level- $45.  I will at minimum purchase the lifetime warranty pads.  When you purchase these pads they are the last set you will have to purchase for your car.  When they wear out you take them off and take them in, they will give you a new set, for free.  Sweet deal, huh?
    Exodus 22:2
    "If a thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed"

    Tass

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #9 on: April 13, 2009, 02:38:10 pm »
    2002 Toyota 4Runner, 133K.  I've already replaced one electric antenna motor.  The antenna is starting to sound a bit loud every time it goes through it's motions.  Is there some way to grease it or otherwise prolong the life?  It cost several hundred to replace before (labor mostly).

    Tass

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #10 on: April 14, 2009, 07:13:47 am »
    Not really.  If it's like most, the center has a plastic/nylon zip strip with teeth that a gear in the motor drives in and out.  After a while they just end up worn out.  Once they start stripping teeth they usually go down in a hurry.

    You could try a small amount of a penetrating lubricant on the antenna next time it's fully extended.  Might extend it's life and quiet it down a bit.   But I mean a small amount.  They are usually factory lubed with grease, so if you hose it down and wash what grease is left off, you'll just make it worse.
    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction- St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries

    Tass

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #11 on: April 14, 2009, 10:30:44 am »
    Thanks.  I'll give it a shot.

    Tass

    Tass

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Leaky Valve Covers
    « Reply #12 on: May 07, 2010, 06:02:28 pm »
    '02 4Runner, 148K, after an oil change today the mechanic said I had a leaky valve cover.  Is this an involved or expensive repair?  Could it be just a gasket?

    Tass

    JesseL

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Leaky Valve Covers
    « Reply #13 on: May 07, 2010, 06:29:05 pm »
    '02 4Runner, 148K, after an oil change today the mechanic said I had a leaky valve cover.  Is this an involved or expensive repair?  Could it be just a gasket?

    Tass

    It most likely is just a gasket. Off the top of my head, I can't really think of what else it could even be.
    Arizona

    THE NORSEMAN

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #14 on: May 07, 2010, 06:50:54 pm »
    Very slight possibility the cover warped a bit.  But JesseL is most likekly right.
    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction- St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries

    Tass

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #15 on: May 07, 2010, 10:50:39 pm »
    Y'all are the best!  I'll see if I can get someone to check it out for me.  I'm hoping to get as many miles as I can out of this truck, it's the perfect dog vehicle.  For once, I don't watch car commercials and get the bug to test drive the newest, etc.  Although heated seats and a sunroof would be nice.... :hmm

    Tass

    LouisCQ1971

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    Re: Routine Maintenance. Read Here, Ask Here!
    « Reply #16 on: January 23, 2011, 04:03:50 pm »
    After posting on the Light Truck tire thread I had to ask. My Gf's Jeep Wrangler (we have his and hers.) Is unable to switch out from 4WD high, I can run it down to Neutral and 4Wd Low, but no luck getting it to back out to 2WD.  She's riding her daily driver until we get it to the shop. I'm thinking it's either low fluid in the transfer case, (it's a CommandTrac) or the linkage is out of sync.
    Any other considerations?
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