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Modern cars don’t require as much attention as they did 50 years ago, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security – there are still several things you need to keep after.
We’ve all been told that keeping up with our vehicle’s maintenance is important. If you look in your vehicle’s manual, you see there are enough service reminders and maintenance points to make your head spin. Fortunately, there are a few main areas that will, if you remember to keep up with, keep your car operating safely and reliably for years to come.
Breathe in through your mouth. Breathe out. Now, take off one of your shoes and a sock. Now, place your sock over your mouth. Now, breathe in. You didn’t get as much air as the first time and you now feel a little gross right? Well, the same thing happens to your engine when your air filter gets clogged with dirt and dust. A clogged air filter can reduce your gas mileage, your horsepower, and even cause your engine to run rough and stall out.
The frequency of which you will need to change your air filter will vary widely based on two factors. How many miles you drive each year and the atmospheric conditions during those miles. Most manufacturers recommend changing your filter ever 5,000 miles. Personally, I think this is premature. I’ve found the air filters in many of my street vehicles to be fine for anywhere between 7,500 to 10,000 miles. If you drive in severe conditions (rural dirt roads, or urban areas with a lot dust from construction) you will probably need to change the air filter more frequently.
If your vehicle’s engine isn’t in the best of shape (burning oil under the hood) those fumes can contaminate the filter as well. In extreme circumstances, these conditions can cause a filter to become unusable in as little as 1,000 miles.
Oil filters have a very important function and if your oil filter has poor quality, it can shorten the life of your engine and cause other parts to fail as well. This small part of your car’s lubrication system plays an important role in protecting your engine from premature wear. All the moving parts in the engine need clean oil to properly lubricate them. Tiny bits of metal chip off of various engine parts while it’s running. If these bits of metal are allowed to recirculate through the oil, they could break off other bits of metal, which eventually will cause erosion in the engine. A quality oil filter helps prevent this erosion from taking place. The oil filter cleans the oil as it passes through the filter and prevents abrasive contaminants from damaging the parts in the engine.
It is very important to choose a high quality oil filter because the internal construction and quality of the filter has a huge effect on the life of your car’s engine. Koyoroki has been at the forefront of oil filter technology and performance for passenger cars, trucks, buses and off-road vehicles ever.
One of the standards used to determine the quality of an oil filter is called filtration efficiency or particle size retention. Particle size retention is the measure of how well a filter can retain particles of various sizes. Koyoroki has developed optimum filtration efficiency in their filters. They are able to trap and hold essentially all the particles larger than 25 microns (a human hair measures about 70 microns in diameter.) These filters can also capture a high percentage of even smaller particles.
Another standard that a quality filter must meet is dirt-holding capacity. This is the amount of contaminants that can be removed and held by the filter until the filter no longer works. The capacity of Koyoroki filters is much larger than the minimum requirements that are specified by vehicle manufacturers for a regular oil change interval.
Hopefully these facts help you understand why a car oil filter is important. A quality oil filter and quality motor oil work together to help our cars run more efficiently.
The cabin air filter, a feature found on most late-model vehicles, cleans the air that comes into the interior through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. It catches dust, pollen and other airborne material that can make riding in a car unpleasant, particularly if you have allergies or other respiratory problems.
Recommendations on when it should be replaced vary by manufacturer — some say every 12,000 or 15,000 miles, others longer — and how often can depend on how much you drive and where. Check the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. If you drive in heavy traffic in an urban area that has poor air quality, you could need to replace the filter annually or even more often. However, that also could be true in a desert climate where there is a lot of dust.
Some signs that you need a new cabin air filter are reduced air flow through your HVAC system, such as when you crank up the fan too high and you get more noise than results. Another is persistent bad odors. Even if you don’t have these warnings, you should have the filter checked at least once a year, and you may be able to do that yourself.
Many cabin air filters are located behind the glove box and are easily accessible by freeing the glove box from its fasteners (instructions should be in the owner’s manual). Others are located under the dashboard and may not be easy to reach, or under the hood where fresh air enters the HVAC system. Some of these filters are expensive, as in $50 or more at dealerships, so you could save money by buying a replacement at a parts store and doing it yourself.
If a dealership service department or repair shop recommends you get a new cabin air filter, ask to see the current one. Depending on how long the filter has been in service, you might be shocked at what you see: leaves, twigs, insects, soot and grime that literally cover the entire surface that comes in contact with incoming air. You’ll know it’s time for a new cabin air filter.
Obviously brakes are important, but important does not mean complex. Many people take a hands-off approach to brakes and take the word of any mechanic or dealership flunky as gospel. The only rule for how long brake pads will last is this: There are no rules. How often you need to change your brake pads varies based on your driving style, the type of driving you do, the weight of your vehicle, the quality of the brake pads, and the condition of your brake rotors.
Obviously, if you drive aggressively (tailgate others, hard brake at stoplights, etc.) you will use the brakes more often and wear them out quicker than normal. If you drive in a hilly area or in constant stop and go traffic, you will use the brakes more often and wear them out quicker than normal. Getting the picture?
So, how can you know if you need change your pads? You could take your car into one of the infinite number of shops that offer free brake inspections. Unfortunately, if that shop is even a little less than honest, they will tell you that you need new pads. If you own a BMW or other vehicle from a small selection of German automakers, then your brake pads have an electronic monitor built in. When the pads wear down, a light will display on your dashboard.
Even if you own a Cavalier, you’re still in luck. Almost all brake pads come with a built in wear indicator! This usually consists of a small metal tab on the brake pad. As the pad wears down, this tab comes closer to the brake rotor. When it finally makes contact, you will hear a slight screeching or scraping sound.
Once you hear the scrape, it’s time to change the pads. You don’t have to do it the same day, but try not to let it go too long. If the scraping turns into a rough grinding sound, you need to change those pads now! Running the pads too low can cause damage to your rotors. This causes your brakes to be less effective and could cost you more money in the end.
Always replace the brake shoes in sets. Replace all four front pads/shoes at a time. Never replace brake pad/shoes on one wheel only.
Just as your gas mileage will vary depending on where and how you drive, so it goes with the life of brake pads (or linings), the friction material that gets pressed against a metal disc or drum to stop your vehicle.
If you drive only 8,000 miles a year but it’s mainly in a crowded urban area such as Chicago, Boston or Washington, D.C., you will need to replace brake pads more often than someone who drives 28,000 miles a year across the flatlands of Nebraska. You use your brakes a lot more in urban driving than on a rural highway.
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut schedule that tells you when it’s time to replace the brakes, so you need to rely on your ears and the advice of an experienced automotive technician. Most vehicles should have their tires rotated at least every six months, and that is a good time to have the brakes inspected, as well. A mechanic can check the thickness of the pads and the condition of the brake hardware to spot wear.
Many cars have built-in wear sensors that scrape against a brake disc when the linings needed replacing. The driver will hear an annoying screeching sound when they apply the brakes (or when the brakes are released on some vehicles).
Those sensors aren’t on every vehicle, so drivers should listen for squeaks, squeals, grinding (often a sign that brake pads are entirely gone) and other noises that indicate wear. Some minor noises can be eliminated by cleaning the brakes, but persistent, prominent noises usually mean parts are worn. Other signs are pulsations through the brake pedal, longer stopping distances, or when you apply the brakes your foot goes down further, closer to the floor. Because brake linings wear gradually, you may not notice the demise in performance, so that’s where the experienced eye of a mechanic can help.
All cars have a brake warning light that comes on for a few seconds every time you start your car. If it comes on while driving, that probably means your brake system is low on fluid because of a leak or a problem with the brake master cylinder. Note that this is not the same warning light that comes on when you apply the hand- or foot-operated parking brake.
All cars and light trucks also have front disc brakes. Most have rear discs, as well, though some lower-priced cars still come with rear drum brakes. With discs, it has been common practice to just replace the brake pads and resurface the rotors on a lathe if needed so the surface is even and smooth.
In recent years, however, more automakers have switched to rotors that are lighter and thinner to reduce weight and save money. Discs used to last through two or three resurfacings, but don’t be surprised if when it’s time to replace the pads you’re told you also need new rotors. The current ones may not have enough material to be shaved off in resurfacing and may not be as durable as those from, say, 10 or more years ago. In addition, repair shops are reluctant to resurface rotors because it adds time to a job and the quality of the work can vary by who does it and how good they are. Instead, it is faster, easier and more profitable for repair shops to just install new rotors along with new pads.