You may well have noticed that many car manufacturers are now officially recommending increasingly long intervals between servicing, but at European Car Mechanics North Shore, we are far from convinced that this practice is in the long-term interests of owners.
With competition in the automotive industry being so fierce, manufacturers are more focused on selling new vehicles rather than keeping old ones on the road for as long as possible. This means that four or five-year lease terms, with perhaps just two services over that period, are aggressively pushed by most popular car brands, who frequently use long-term service intervals as sales tools. Prospective purchasers are attracted by lower maintenance costs and less time off the road, especially business buyers in the high-volume, fleet market.
The Potential Negative Impact of Increased Service Intervals
Two of the most important tasks a mechanic carries out during a full service are the oil and oil-filter changes. If new car manufacturer recommendations dictate that this occurs a only couple of times in five years, there is a good chance you will see a serious build-up of sludge within the car engine. This can cause the knock-on effect of faults in the oil level and oil quality sensors, and mean that lubricant is failing to flow freely to the parts that desperately need it.
Just like cholesterol in human arteries, once sludge occurs in the system it is extremely hard to remove. In fact, the only real method is to use a chemical engine flush to purge the whole system. Unfortunately, this process can have unwanted consequences, including the loosening of larger pieces of sludge that can block pathways within the engine and, just like cholesterol in your heart, cause it to catastrophically fail. And that can mean huge expense to the owner.
We Recommend More Frequent Engine Services
We know from experience that it’s extremely important to service your vehicle on a more regular basis than twice every five or six years. Adhere to a more regular regime and you can expect your car’s lifespan to be significantly lengthened and it will spend a lot less time off the road and in the workshop. You can opt for a full service but, at the very least, you need to get the oil and oil-filter changed on a frequent basis.
The Question of Transmission Lubricant Changes
We often see stickers on car transmission units and differentials that read, ‘filled for life’, suggesting that you never need to change the lubricants within these components. But what is their actual life expectancy?
For example, we have seen cars which needed transmission overhauls in 100,000-120,000km, which are supposedly ‘filled for life’, so is that the real life expectancy for that transmission unit? Then why have we also noticed exactly the same type of gearbox go on for 280,000km with absolutely no issues! The only difference we could spot is that the latter was serviced at 50,000-60,000km intervals. You don’t need to be an auto mechanic to figure out what’s the best practice should be.
An average transmission rebuild is upward of $4000, whilst a transmission service is around $400. That’s why car manufacturers extended their intervals. By the time you sell your car on, it’s probably had just two services over four years and no transmission lubricant change. No surprise that cars treated this way respond by giving up the ghost very early.
Main Dealer Engine Services are not Always the Most Effective
Many owners of European cars are persuaded to return to the original dealers for servicing because they believe they will get a better job done than if they trust a local, Sydney repair shop. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
From our experience, when a car’s been serviced by a dealer for the first four to five years, we witness a countless number of oil leaks, from compromised gaskets. Not only does this spoil the garage floor, it is a safety hazard for other motorists, especially motorcyclists, who can easily slip on oil slicks. It also deteriorates cooling system hoses, wiring-looms and drive-belts which can result in serious engine failure. Serious carbon built-up within the intake system can create oil leaks and affect the efficiency of the car’s engine.
We have many customer requests to check engine warning lights, due to sensor failures, which require replacement. This could have been avoided if the system was cleaned on a more regular basis. This is something that’s not recommended by the manufacturer but these are costly repairs that can be avoided. Like most things in life, prevention is always better than cure!
Extended Car Service Intervals Can Contribute to Expensive Engine Problems
Another problem is that engine oil is not just used for lubrication of metal components, but is also used as a heat-exchanger, to dissipate heat from the engine and a cleaner that traps combustion by-products, such as carbon and varnish. Like a bucket of water when it’s used to mop the floor a few times, it can only carry so much dirt. When the dirt within the oil starts contaminating parts like the valve stamp oil seal, trapped carbon turns into sludge. Sludge is like tar that sticks to components. Once it’s in your engine it is very hard to get rid of. The effect of sludge will cause valve stamp oil leaks and low- tension piston range. VANOS is a complex, variable-valve timing system used in BMW engines, for example, which is extremely costly to repair. Even with the reasonable prices at European Car Mechanics North Shore, it will cost tens of thousands of dollars. Just imagine the eye-watering charge at a main dealership!
Bring Your Imported Vehicle to Car Mechanics North Shore for a Service You Can Trust
Car manufacturers and dealers suggest that these problems are caused by your driving style and driving conditions, and that the vehicle has reached the natural end of its serviceable life, so it is easier to simply buy a new car. That’s exactly what they want you to do – purchase a brand new vehicle, so they can boost their sales figures. In the opinion of all of our experienced mechanics, if your car has more regular services, it is far more likely to extend its life on the road.
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