Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Foundation of Vehicle Longevity - Part One

In real estate, the main goal of determining the purchase of a property is “location, location, location.”

The foundation of vehicle longevity is “prevention, prevention, prevention.”

It is much easier to prevent problems from occurring than to correct them once they have occurred.

Let’s take a look at the physics of what is happening when you operate your vehicle.  In the case of moving parts, every time you cause something to move, theoretically, you begin the process of wearing it out.  This process is because of “friction” which is when two parts move against each other.  Here are some examples:

·        The engine pistons make contact with the cylinders
·        The piston connecting rods makes contact with the crankshaft
·        The crankshaft make contact with the main bearings
·        The oil pump gears make contact with each other
·        The camshaft journals make contact with the cylinder head
·        The lifters make contact with the camshaft
·        The valves make contact with the valve seats and valve guides
·        The engine timing belt makes contact with the camshaft and crankshaft gears
·        The water pump impeller makes contact with the shaft bearing, seal
·        The alternator rotor makes contact with the rotor bearing and alternator brushes
·        The power steering pump gears make contact with each other
·        The air conditioning compressor makes contact with the clutch and pistons
·        The engine drive belt makes contact with the water pump, alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, crankshaft pulley, and belt tensioner.
·        The electric cooling fan motor makes contact with the shaft bearing and brushes
·        The engine starter motor gear makes contact with the engine flywheel
·        The transmission input shaft turns clutch discs that make contact with each other
·        The transmission shift valves make contact with the valve body
·        The differential pinion gear makes contact with the ring and side gears
·        The axle shaft bearing makes indirect contact with the axle shaft
·        The tires makes contact with the road surface
·        The brake lining make contact with the brake rotor
·        The door handle makes contact with the door latch linkages
·        The ignition key makes contact with the ignition switch
·        The driver makes contact with the seat, gas, brake, clutch (manual transmission) pedals, shift lever, and steering wheel
·        The steering system parts make contact with the steering gear, tie rod ends and linkage connecting points
·        The suspension parts, shock absorbers, springs, etc. are making contact with parts within themselves
·        The list goes on and on...

As you can see, there are many parts moving against each other.
The key is not to eliminate friction for all moving parts, that would be detrimental to the desired function.  The key is to minimize friction (in most cases.)  Lubrication is the substance that is used to minimize friction.
The most common lubrication that is known by most people is engine oil.  Engine oil is used as a barrier between two moving parts and minimizes the friction.
However, if the engine oil is dirty, it includes particles from the combustion process and moisture.  In the case of particles, it accelerates the “wearing out” process and just like you can’t see a plant grow, nevertheless, it grows!  In time, it works like sandpaper and grinds away the material it’s supposed to protect.
In the case of moisture, it produces acids that chemically eat away at the engine bearing material.  This is why you shouldn’t run an engine and shut it off before it reaches normal operating temperatures because the engine hasn’t had a chance to vaporize the moisture which is in the oil from humidity in the air.
Therefore, you can see the importance of changing your engine oil and filter on a regular basis.  The question may be asked, “How often?”  Well, at least according to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule which for newer vehicles (2005 and newer) every 5,000 miles, however, many will recommend every 3,000 miles,
it depends on your finances.  It’s a negligible improvement in the 2000 miles difference, though some have called oil changes “cheap insurance.”

If you select changing your oil every 5,000 miles, don’t feel bad, you’re still doing very well.  In the old days, it was 7,500 miles or more!

In Part Two I want to provide information on the importance of performing preventive maintenance and what to do if you haven’t had it done.
Stay tuned!

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