In the days of points ignition systems and carbureted engines, mechanical adjustments had to be made every 15,000 miles in order to ensure peak performance. With the introduction of computer engine management systems, fuel injection and electronic ignition systems of varying designs, the need for periodic mechanical corrections has all but been eliminated.
The need for routine maintenance, however, is as critical today as it has always been.
Modern engines run on extremely tight tolerances. For example, the piston-cylinder clearance on a 2010 Kia Forte 2.0 is 0.0005-0.0013” – that’s 5 to 13 ten-thousands of an inch! A 20 year old Toyota allowed a clearance of 0.024-0.031” clearance between the piston and cylinder wall. It is obvious from this example that today’s engine production tolerances are considerably tighter than vehicles manufactured just 10-20 years ago. This is one way that the manufacturers obtain increased horsepower and better fuel economy from smaller power plants.
Now consider what will happen to that 2010 Kia’s piston fit if engine oil isn’t changed as it should be, or if air filters are allowed to pass dirt and other contaminants into the combustion chamber. How do you think that affects the engine’s longevity and performance?
These higher tolerances aren’t just in the major engine components either. Control module strategies have gotten more precise, and pass/fail thresholds aren’t as forgiving as they used to be. All are necessary to improve efficiency, gain ground in fuel economy and still produce the power we all want to experience when we step on the pedal. Fuel injectors get dirty, intake tracts carbon up, spark plugs wear – just not all at the same time or at the same rate.
Let’s not forget the rest of the vehicle either. Performance is a package deal. The other systems on a car (suspension, steering, braking, etc.) need to be checked routinely and corrected to ensure that the total package functions as the OEM designers intended.
Proactive maintenance is any work done before there is a problem. This means following the OEM specified service maintenance schedule for your car. If you take care of small items when you should, rather than waiting until there is a problem, your overall expense to maintain your vehicle will be less. And, you are less likely to have some unwanted surprise (breakdown) while you are travelling.
It is all about protecting one of the single largest investments you will ever make – your car. You depend on your car for transportation for your family, for vacations, and most likely to go to and from your work.
Now if you’re like many, when you think of “Tune-Up” you are thinking only about the engine. Proactive maintenance can be done to the entire vehicle. It might be something as simple as correcting the tire pressure, thereby extending the life of your tires, or changing the cabin air filter so that the evaporator and heater core won’t become plugged. It might be something a little more complex, like fluid change services – brake fluid, power steering, transmission, cooling system and so forth at regular maintenance service intervals. Any of these services when performed help prevent major problems from happening, extending the life of your car.
I encourage you to properly take care of your car, and then it will take care of you.
Review your owner’s manual for the OEM specified service maintenance schedule. If you need some assistance, drop by STAR Automotive; we’ll help you out. Even if you no longer have your owner’s manual, we can look up and print the specifics for you.
May you have happy uneventful fulfilling driving before you!