Car Advice from Tommy...

Hi everyone. Neglecting maintenance can put your vehicle on borrowed time. It’s so easy to remember the basics (tires, oil change, brakes), but there are less obvious areas of automotive care. Sometimes, you may not even know you’ve been neglecting anything important until a catastrophic failure happens.

These are the forgotten fluids that if ignored can cause major damage.

Automatic Transmission Fluid:   Automatic transmissions today are marketed as requiring little or no service. As with all automotive fluids there comes a time when a flush and fill is required for your automatic transmission fluid. Even if your vehicle has a “lifetime” fluid, you should inspect it every 30,000 miles to ensure that it’s still capable of withstanding the heat and stress of driving. Keep in mind that modern vehicles may requires very specific procedures to service the transmission and most today do not have dipsticks. We have seen many cars with transmission shudders at 40,000 miles that were fixed by flushing the old fluid from the transmission.

Engine Coolant:   How long has it been since you replaced the antifreeze in your engine’s cooling system? Never? Over time, the additives in antifreeze can wear out causing rust and scale build up inside the cooling system causing blockages in the cooling system. These additives also lubricate the water pump. Once the lubrication is gone the bearings in the water pump will wear and cause the pump to leak, requiring the water pump to be replaced.  The initial coolant change interval is 5 years or 100,000 miles whichever occurs first. After the initial change we suggest changing it every 3 years or 36,000 for maximum protection.

Brake Fluid:   Like transmission fluid and engine coolant, brake fluid is also affected by heat and water. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water. Over time, it can absorb moisture and lower the boiling point. The brakes get very hot and this heat transfers to the brake fluid causing it to boil and make steam, leading to a spongy brake pedal and increased stopping distances. This situation can deteriorate components so gradually that it can be difficult to spot the problem before it becomes a safety issue. A regular change interval can ensure confident stopping power. European and Asian car manufactures suggest replacing brake fluid every 2 years or 36,000 miles.

Transfer Case Fluid:   With the popularity of compact SUVs this is becoming a very important to monitor. Most of these compact SUVs have small transfer cases that hold only 2 cups of oil in them. That’s less than my morning coffee. If left unmonitored this oil can deteriorate and turn into sludge. Most manufactures suggest replacement every 30,000 miles to keep it working properly.

Paying attention to the condition of these fluids will help you reduce your risk of breakdowns and provide a much longer service life to your vehicle.