Delaying maintenance may not save money

Winter is near, and with cold, rain, ice, snow and more in store for the mid-Missouri area, it is only good sense to ready your vehicle for whatever comes.

Considering some of the extreme weather conditions in the area over the last several winters, it may be advisable to have your car or truck checked out for winterization early this year.

According to Gene Leeper, Leeper Auto Service, some auto owners may be delaying some regular maintenance, such as oil changes, because of the need to pinch pennies. However a little penny pinching now may mean turning loose of dollars later.

For those who have already been delaying maintenance of cars and trucks, it may be even more vital to prepare them for the winter season. The standard for changing oil on the past was every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever occurs first. With the improvements in both vehicles and lubricants, the owner’s manuals for some newer cars and trucks recommend more miles and longer times. The manuals for the newer vehicles recommend oil and filter be changed every 5,000 miles, although many admit to being “more comfortable” with the 3,000 mile interval.

Some auto maintenance can be delayed with no real problems down the road. For example, windshield wiper blades may be bad for a long time before it becomes a real issue. Even if a rainstorm hits, bad wiper blades usually do not disable a car. Even a bad battery can be jumped for a while to keep a vehicle on the road. Then when either wiper blades or battery are replaced, the car will likely go on as if there were never a problem.

On the other hand, delay of oil changes and cooling system checks can lead to a serious breakdown—one which could easily require a new engine.

According to Gene Leeper, Leeper Auto Repair, changing oil and filter before winter sets in is the most important thing to do. Over summer, the oil often builds up all sorts of particulate matter that can inhibit engine lubrication in the winter, especially when first starting a cold engine. When planning the time and miles between oil changes, keep in mind that short trips are much harder on engine oil than longer ones.

One thing to remember is to not only check the battery, especially if it is getting near the end of its life, but also the battery cables and battery posts for corrosion or other problems.

If the vehicle happens to be a diesel with a 24-volt system, remember to have both batteries checked. Leeper also recommends making certain each battery is checked while not connected to electrical system. A bad battery may check out good because the other battery is good and masks a problem battery.

Follow the dealers manual and the advice of the mechanic on the coolant in the engine cooling system. And make certain the engine coolant is the proper coolant for the system, since there are several different coolants on the market.

Take note of hose condition. If a leak is found, get it repaired before a hose fails completely and your vehicle is disabled on the road.

Fuel and air filters are important, as are tires. Brakes are also important. In good weather, brakes should stop the car evenly, but on wet or slick pavement this is even more important for safe driving. Check the brake fluid level. Power steering is also an important item to remember. Make certain the power steering fluid is checked. In some vehicles, changing the power steering fluid is recommended. Check the owner’s manual for recommended intervals.

The weather will change soon. Don’t wait until the first snowstorm to decide the car or truck should have been winterized a few weeks before.

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