Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Importance of Performing Preventive Maintenance

The Goal: Preventing part, component or system failure and promote reliability, safety, drive-ability, comfort and longevity of the vehicle.
Parts are wearing out each time they are used.  Depending on the frequency of use, the parts may encounter malfunction or failure at some point in time.  Since the exact time is not known, the component is monitored periodically to determine if it need to be serviced or replaced.
The failure of certain components is more critical than others.
For example: if your radio malfunctions or fails, that will result in your entertainment being affected.  However, if your engine battery fails, you may not be able to start your engine, and you could be stranded.
The goal here is to determine the condition of the battery BEFORE it fails.
Therefore, performing preventive maintenance is attempting to stay ahead of component failure as much as is possible.

Please note that the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule does not include all of the components of a vehicle.  There is no way to ensure that any part will not malfunction or fail.  Even new parts can malfunction or fail due to manufacturing flaws, design flaws, damage during shipping and handling or operator error.  Nevertheless, by following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, you increase your odds of avoiding malfunction or failure.

Some vehicles are prone to failure due to poor designs, or the effects of environmental factors, therefore, you should determine the reliability record of your chosen vehicle before purchasing.
Nevertheless, if you have already purchased it, you want to determine the weakness of the vehicle and have a strategy to handle it.  This can be done by using a search engine such as Google, just type in your make, model, and add review: for example: ‘2010 Toyota Camry reviews” or “2010 Toyota Camry reliability” or whatever your interest is, just type it in.

The Cost of Preventive Maintenance:

Since the person performing the preventive maintenance is primarily inspecting parts and not performing any repair work (unless there is a need), the expense is according to the person doing it.  For dealerships or repair shops, the cost can be a few hundred dollars; however, if you want to do it yourself or have someone else do it, you can save yourself a lot of money. 
It is not a requirement to have a dealership perform the preventive maintenance in order to maintain the factory warranty.  The main thing that impacts the factory warranty is changing the engine oil and filter, because if it’s neglected, engine damage can result which the manufacturer would have to pay for under warranty, which will void the warranty on the engine.
It doesn’t require various flushes such as: transmission flushes, fuel system servicing and other “recommended” services.  On a new vehicle, it’s absolutely not necessary, unless the factory has published a technical service bulletin on the item.

On older vehicles flushing can be detrimental to normal operation.  Once you start dislodging particles in certain components such as a transmission, you can start having transmission problems.  In older cooling systems you could start leaks in the heater core or some other weak point. 

It’s sort of like having a house that has asbestos in the walls; sure it’s bad and is known to cause cancer.  However, if you start removing walls and causing asbestos to become airborne, you can see it probably would have been better to leave the walls intact until the house is destroyed.

What if you missed your scheduled maintenance?

Have it performed as soon as possible, preferably to get you back on schedule.  For example, if you missed your 15,000 mile maintenance and the vehicle has 28,000 miles, then the Service Adviser will probably recommend doing the 30,000 mile maintenance.  You shouldn’t be charged for two maintenance services (15,000/30,000) because the 15,000 mile is past and the 30,000 mile maintenance will tell you what the current condition is.  Remember, at the 15,000 mile maintenance, you would have gotten an oil and filter change, rotation of tires, inspections of brake wear and other items, tightening of any designated bolts and inspection of other miscellaneous items.  Not rotating the tires will not void out the tire warranty, not inspecting the brakes will not void out the vehicle warranty, because brake pads and brake shoes generally are not covered by the vehicle warranty.  The only possible problem is if the brakes were worn to the point of destroying the rotors because of no brake pad material, the factory is not going to cover the cost of the rotors.

If you have enough information, you don’t have to live in fear of the dealer.
Actually, you want to have a good relationship with your Service Adviser and the Dealership. 
Dealerships can have a bad reputation for various reasons, but it’s not fair to take a broad stroke and believe that dealerships are places to avoid.  Quiet as it’s kept, you need dealerships, and there are certain repair problems that only dealerships can resolve.

For example, what if you have a problem with your supplemental restraint system (airbag)?  To obtain certain parts, others will have to obtain parts from the dealer.  What if you have a problem with a hybrid vehicle, do you think you can have it serviced anywhere?  Nope, you’ve got to go to the dealer, because even there, only certain technicians can work on them.

My goal is to help educate you so that you can be able to ask the right questions and participate in the process of accomplishing your goal of maintaining or repairing your vehicle at a minimal cost to you.  In this scenario, customers will not look at the dealer with suspension but will appreciate that they're getting what they're paying for.  Furthermore, when a vehicle is brought in for an oil change and the technician informs the Service Adviser that the brakes are worn and destroying the rotors and it's going to cost over $500.00 to repair.
It shouldn't be a surprise, that's the cost of not keeping up on the maintenance.
In this case, the repair shop is not the villain!

One other thing, when you do approve to have parts replaced, ask the Service Adviser to inform the technician to return the parts to you for your inspection.  Afterward, you can return the parts for disposal; this will help keep honest people honest!

The next topic will be: "How to determine if a repair should be done"

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