Under the Hood
A Tale About Caution in Pouring Car Fluid
A majority of people are completely surprised when they discover one of the most under publicized mistakes made by car owners. Nominees for the prestigious title of “auto maladies” would certainly include: losing keys, driving with the emergency brake engaged, backing through a closed garage door and failing to secure the trunk or hood before take off. All of the above are eligible as “honorable mentions” but according to most mechanics, the overall grand champion remains to pour fluids into the wrong fill tank in a car.
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Many motorists are concerned with a routine of preventative maintenance and have established an auto fluid checklist which they review on a regular basis. It is an excellent idea to conduct periodic fills of necessary vehicle fluids under the hood, however, pouring them into the right location is a must. It is best to take the time and exercise caution where you pour. When the wrong fluids are mixed in crucial areas which are necessary for car’s operation and performance it can cause extremely expensive repairs. Most of the time the cost of having the fluids improperly added flushed and refilled are minimal compared to possible repairs resulting from even short periods of driving. Even the best intentions for mapping a car maintenance plan require the final destination to be accurate.
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Although some missteps in the fluid filling are harmless others can result in catastrophe. Anything other than mineral oil in a braking system, for example, can cause extensive damage to all of the working parts and require possible replacement of calipers, wheel cylinders, master cylinders and even the anti-lock brake unit. Windshield wiping fluid added in enough quantity to the cooling system can cause overheating and significant damage to the water pump bearings. An easy fact to remember is that only windshield fluid and gasoline are consumable and if any other fluid level seems low, there is usually a mechanical reason for the over usage. It is always best to have a car checked by a professional if refilling fluids become too frequent. Potential leaks or malfunctions in some working parts of the auto may be the cause.
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Technology has advanced rapidly in the auto manufacturing industry over the last decade establishing designs for more efficient and reliable cars. Many models are now capable of lasting much longer with a minimal amount of maintenance. One critical element in the innovation equation is forgotten. The fluids which are necessary to ensure the proper performance of automobiles has changed very little over the same span of time. It is comparable to the great athlete who has trained and prepared themselves at the highest achievement level which allows impurities to pollute their bloodstream. Exactly like the engine of the car the pollutants travel into the vital organs and before you know it the athlete collapses from the result.
Who do we Listen to – the Doctor or the Engineer?
Auto manufacturers do not mention too much about fluids and flushing routines in manuals. A major part of their selling strategy comes from using “low operating costs” as a marketing motto. How many times have you taken the car in for an oil change and the mechanic asked if wanted to flush the transmission, replace the brake fluid or service the engine cooling system? Mechanics may also inquire about power steering fluid service or fuel injection/intake service. If we remember that auto manufacturers advertise those little costs as part of their selling strategy would it make sense to follow their recommendations?
If their goal is to sell more cars would the guidelines for proper maintenance be geared more toward autos lasting longer or meeting the cheaper upkeep goals? When it comes to physical problems, most people choose to consult a doctor as opposed to an engineer. Asking a mechanic whose concern in making sure an automobile performs to its maximum potential might be wiser than relying on information from those whose goals are to sell you a new car.
Even the Processes Differ:
Automakers only recommend that the flush is completed by just pulling the plug and allowing the transmission fluid to drain even though as much of that fluid may remain in the torque converter, oil cooler and lines. Power flushing the fluid will remove all of the tiny pieces of debris and help extend the life of clutch-plate and moving components. Engine cooling systems are also listed to have fluids replaced in the same draining method as opposed to flushing.
The Most Important Question:
How many times have you ever heard a person complain that their car stopped running because the moving parts were too clean and over-maintained? That should provide a little insight into the equation of proper fluid replacement. Is it worth a few hundred additional dollars for more fluid replacements and special procedures to try and squeeze a couple of extra years out of a car? That is the question which many are asking themselves today.