Engineering Explained: Will Thinner Oils Damage Your Engine?
We provided Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained access to our Mobil 1 engineers to discuss how oil interacts with your car’s engine. What do oil weights (AKA viscosity grades) and the numbers on the oil bottle actually mean? Do thinner motor oils improve fuel efficiency? Can thinner oils effectively protect an engine? Watch and find out!
To maximize the life and performance of your vehicle, here is a list of items you should check depending on the time and season. Some of these parts of your vehicle should be checked regularly, and others only in the long run. Be sure to follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule and service interval record.
Caring for your car and keeping it in proper running order takes a little bit of effort, but you definitely don’t have to be a mechanical whiz to keep your vehicle running well. The biggest hurdle is being aware of what needs to be done—and how often—for optimal vehicle upkeep. By knowing the basics about what your car needs, and when you should perform routine car maintenance, you’ll ensure that your car is in top-running condition.
As an added bonus, if you can prove that your vehicle has been well maintained, you’ll be able to ask top dollar when it’s time to resell it. And, of course, it’s important to remember that car maintenance costs, while not always cheap, can ultimately help you avoid expensive repairs down the road.
To make it easy to keep track of your car maintenance schedule, we’ve created a simple, downloadable car maintenance checklist to help you keep on top of your automotive maintenance.
A. SHORT TERM CHECK-UPS
For proper vehicle maintenance, inspect the following:
(1). OIL AND COOLANT LEVELS
Every month, or every few gas fill-ups and especially before any longer road trips, it’s a good idea to get under the hood of your car and inspect both the oil and coolant levels while the engine is cool. Low levels of either can lead to engine problems if left unchecked. Refer to your owner’s manual to locate both on your specific vehicle.
(2.) AIR FILTER
Your engine’s air filter is what regulates the air that flows into your engine and helps keep out debris and particulate. By making certain that your air filter is flowing properly, you can improve your fuel efficiency, decrease your emissions, and help ensure the life of your engine. This can be done easily at home, so check your owner’s manual for instructions and how often it needs to be changed.
(3).TIRE PRESSURE AND TREAD DEPTH
Since well-maintained tires are integral to a safe, fuel-efficient ride, make it a habit to visually inspect your tires often. Check the pressure in your tires every month, and before long trips or carrying extra load. Don’t forget the spare. A tire pressure gauge will be needed to check your tire pressure. Also, during the colder months, note that tire pressure drops one pound with every 10 degree decrease in pressure. Your owner’s manual will tell you how much air pressure your tire needs. You can check your tread depth using the simple penny method.
(4) .HEADLIGHTS, TURN SIGNALS, BRAKE, AND PARKING LIGHTS
It’s important that the lights on your vehicle are properly functioning, but oftentimes it can be easy item to overlook. Once a month, turn on your headlights when you’re parked in front of a flat surface and check that both headlights are working properly and well-positioned. Walk around your car and visually inspect both turn signals and your parking lights. Have a friend stand behind the car while you engage the brakes to be certain that your brake lights are functional.
(5). OIL & FILTER
The motor oil in your vehicle’s engine serves a whole slew of functions: it lubricates the moving parts, helps act as a sealant against debris, cools the engine, reduces wear and tear, and helps prevent engine corrosion. Keeping it clean is vital for good engine health. Depending on your car and what kind of oil you’re using, you may need to change both the oil & oil filter as much as every 3 months or 3000 miles. Many newer vehicles’ owners’ manuals will recommend changing your oil less frequently – often in-between 5,000 and 10,000 miles. Check your vehicle owner’s manual and consult with a professional to be certain what is appropriate for your vehicle.
(6). ROTATE TIRES
Depending on your vehicle alignment, usage, and many other factors, the tread wear patterns on your tires may vary between the front and back tires, or even from one side of the tread to the other. Rotating your tires will help to extend the service life of your tires by more evenly balancing the tread wear, and helping prevent noise and vibration problems.
(7). WAX VEHICLE
Making certain to wax your vehicle every six months after washing it won’t just keep it shiny, it’ll also help to keep both the paint in good shape and reduce the chance of rust. Many irritants such as dust, sand, and salt can build up and environmental factors like ozone and ultraviolet light can cause microscopic damage, but waxing can help minimize this by forming a protective seal to extend your paint’s life.
B. LONG TERM CHECK-UPS
(1). TRANSMISSION FLUID
Much like the oil in your engine, transmission fluid is a lubricant that helps keep all of the moving parts inside of your transmission functioning properly. Whether you’re driving an automatic or manual transmission vehicle, it is essential that you have your transmission fluid checked and changed when needed to avoid costly transmission damage or replacement. Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
(2). TRANSFER CASE FLUID
In four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles, the transfer case is what shifts power from the transmission to the axles. You’ll need to have the transfer case fluid checked according to the vehicle manufacturer recommendations to make certain that it is properly filled and leak-free. This will require you getting under the vehicle, so bringing it into a professional is recommended.
(3). INSPECT SHOCKS AND STRUTS
The shocks and struts on your car function to control the impact and rebound as your vehicle passes over bumps in the road and are an essential part of your auto’s steering system. They should be inspected by a professional every 50,000 miles or bring your car in to the shop if you notice a decrease in smoothness or loss of control when driving.
(4). COOLANT FLUID EXCHANGE
The radiator in your car is a vital component that helps keep your engine cool and functioning properly. Having your coolant system flushed regularly will help get rid of contaminants that can build up inside as well as ensure that your radiator is filled to a proper level. Check your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation to find out how often your coolant should be exchanged,
(5). SPARK PLUGS
The spark plugs in your engine ignite the gas and air mixture that ultimately powers your vehicle . If your spark plugs aren’t functioning properly, your engine will lose power and won’t run at optimal capacity. Have a professional check and replace any faulty spark plugs depending on vehicle mfr recommendations or when you feel a decrease in your engine’s power.
(6). SERPENTINE BELT
Although may seem like a simple piece of rubber, your vehicle’s serpentine belt is essential to keeping your car running by powering peripheral devices such as your alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioner compressor. Visually inspect the belt to ensure that it is free of cracks or other wear and tear. Replace id damaged or according to your vehicle manufacture’s recommendation.
(7). FRONT AND/OR REAR DIFFERENTIAL
The differentials are devices that split the torque—or power—from the engine and allow it to send power to the tires. In front or rear-wheel drive vehicles, there is only one differential, but in 4-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, there is both a front and rear differential, and possibly even a center differential. Like many parts of your vehicle, the differentials need to be kept lubricated to ensure proper functionality. Have a professional check and change fluid whenever your vehicle manufacturer recommends it.
(C). SEASONAL CHECK-UPS
The needs of your vehicle can vary by season and driving conditions. Following are a few suggestions to add to the notes section of your vehicle maintenance checklist:
(2). REPLACE WINDSHIELD WIPERS
Windshield wipers need to be replaced about once every year, or whenever the effectiveness is compromised. In winter months, it could also be a good idea to install winter wiper blades for optimum performance. You should also pull your wipers away from the window when parked during the winter to prevent ice buildup.
(3). BATTERY PERFORMANCE CHECK
Your car battery is one of the most important components for your vehicle to run. A car battery supplies large amounts of electrical current for the starter, engine and other electronic accessories in the vehicle. Extreme temperatures affect the performance of the battery so regular battery testing will ensure that battery will perform when you need it to.
(4). CHANGE TIRES
Depending on where you live and the winter driving conditions you might encounter, you might want to switch your tires in cold, snowy months to a winter/snow tire. When the temperature hovers at or below freezing consistently, the tire compounds in non-winter tires hardens, decreasing traction and handling performance while increasing braking distance. Winter tires are have tread patterns and compounds designed to remain soft in the cold and provide grip in snow, slush, and icy driving conditions.
(5). CHECK COOLANT LEVELS
It’s also important to check your antifreeze levels in your radiator in winter months to keep your radiator or engine components from freezing. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze to water is generally recommended, but check your owner’s manual or with a professional to be certain.
Sticking to a car maintenance schedule, and keeping good records of what you’ve done, can help extend the life of your vehicle and protect you against breakdowns, expensive repairs, and other unwelcomed surprises.
Following the Movement Control Order (MCO), most Malaysians have been told to stay put at home and restrict setting foot out of their homes.
This means less usage of cars – which also means that you could potentially face the risk of flat tyres, dead batteries and dust piling up if your car is left idle for an extended period of time.
Why not take matters into your own hands and follow these 10 steps to clean your car and accomplish a detail-finish as if it’s done by a professional?
1.) Wash Your Car
It’s important to wash your car regularly because if you leave water stains or bird droppings unwashed for a prolonged period, these contaminants can strip off and damage your car’s paint. When washing your car, be sure to use a cleaner that is made specifically for exterior automotive application. Do not use household detergents just to save money because it will peel off your car’s paint. Look for a cleaner that can deliver professional-quality results, like the 3M Auto Care Car Wash Soap. It can safely remove dirt and grime without harming the protective layer of wax that shield polishes, keeping your car sparkling and shiny.
2.) Dry Your Car
Next up is drying your car. You shouldn’t let your car air dry because once the water evaporates after washing, minerals will remain, and cause corrosion. To make things worse, it also causes unsightly watermarks and streaking. Instead, use microfibre cloths to dry your car because it effectively absorbs water and doesn’t scratch your paint coating. Wipe your car’s body from the top down thoroughly and make sure no area is still wet to prevent rusting.
3.) Clean Your Tires
Grime and brake dust build up on the rims over time and corrode the coating, causing unwanted discolouration. Hence, look for a powerful solution that can remove even the toughest buildup from the road, such as the 3M Wheel and Tire Cleaner. The cleaner is formulated to meet the special challenges of cleaning wheels and tires, in one easy step. Not only can it effectively clean tough scuffs and soil from tire sidewalls, it also polishes the wheels, leaving a brilliant shine.
Restore the deep black colour and natural shine to your tires with 3M Tire Restorer.
4.) Restore Your Tires
Although your tires are now clean from grime, they may still look dull and faded. To wipe away the dull, lifeless look that diminishes the appearance of your tires and molding, use the3M Tire Restorer. It can restore faded tires with deep black colour and natural shine to renew the vibrancy of their original color. The tire restorer is also made with a non-sling formula that will not blemish your automotive paint jobs.
Fix scratches and scuffs that diminish your car’s look with 3M Scratch Remover.
5.) Eliminate Scratches
After washing your car, search for scratches and scuffs along the body. These blemishes can quickly dull your vehicle’s appearance and lessen its value, so they should be fixed immediately. Don’t forget to check the area near the door handle. You can treat surface scratches that cut the protective coating yourself using scratch removers, but deeper scratches that penetrate the paint should be left to professionals. Doing this yourself won’t hurt your wallet as much as sending it to a car detailer, but make sure to look for a product that can help you achieve the same professional effect, like the 3M Scratch Remover. It helps eliminate minor scratches, scuffs and other small defects by sanding, compounding and polishing automotive clear coats from the paint, producing a high polish finish.
Protect your car’s paint and give it a glossy shine with 3M Quick Wax.
6.) Wax Your Car
Waxing your car does not only refresh its appearance with a glossy shine, it also functions as a protective layer for your paint against UV ray and other corrosive elements. Take note to wax your car once every six months to ensure that the coat is intact. In between, you can try applying 3M Quick Wax for touch-ups between washes or in the event your car goes through a rain storm or is hit by bird droppings to help recapture the “just waxed” look and renew the shine and gloss of your vehicle. The product contains carnauba wax, which is the favourite among automotive professionals, for its rich, deep shine. You can use it daily, weekly or monthly depending on your needs to keep that clean, newly waxed look you want your car to have every day.
Use the 3M Headlight Lens Restoration Kit
7.) Restore the Headlights
Vehicles today use more plastic components because they are durable and can reduce the vehicle’s overall weight. However, they are prone to yellowing and become hazy due to exposure to the elements. Hazy headlights can be dangerous as it will limitvisibility while driving at nightandcould put you, your passengers and other cars at risk. Hazy, dull headlights also diminishes the appearance and value of the vehicle. Rather than using ineffective solvents to restore your headlights, try using 3M Headlight Lens Restoration Kit. It can remove yellowing, scratches, dirt, oxidization and other material buildup on the plastic lens.
8.) Clean the Interior
The first step to cleaning your car’s interior is throwing out all of the trash such as cups, tissues and papers. Don’t forget to wipe down your steering wheel and other surfaces that potentially have germs. It may even help to keep a pack of disinfecting wipes in your car. Next, remove the floor mats before vacuuming the interior. Then, vacuum from the top down, starting from the headliner, seats, dashboard, console and down to the floor. Don’t forget to also vacuum the floor mats you removed before putting them back into place. To make sure your car is thoroughly clean, adjust the seats to reach hard-to-reach areas and clean them. You should vacuum your car each week or even twice a week if you can, to minimize accumulation of dirt, or worse, bacteria.
9.) Restore the Seats
Over time, dirt and grime also build up on the seats, arm rests and other interior surfaces. When cleaning the seats, choose a cleaner that is suitable for the material. Leather and vinyl seats need a specialized cleaner towipe away the residue and deposits that tarnish their appearance. Leather seats, especially, need to be given extra care. They should be conditioned at least once every three months, as they are prone to drying, cracking and aging. The 3M Leather and Vinyl Restorer is a great cleaner which you can use to deep clean dirt and grime from all vinyl, leather, rubber and plastic surfaces. It is formulated with conditioning oils that help keep the material soft, supple and hydratedandalso speciallyenriched to give vinyl and leather a lustrous appearance and feel. If you have fabric seats, vacuum them, then spray them with a disinfectant spray.
10.) Clean the Windows
The last step is cleaning your car windows. When detailing otherparts of your car, you might have oversprayed various products onto your windows and tainted them. Cleaning them will give a finished, cleaned look to your vehicle. Use a glass cleaner for better results, and spray it onto a microfibre cloth instead of the window when wiping. Wipe with a straight up and down motion on both sides of the window for best effects.
Bonus tip – one of the best ways to keep your car up to par, is to drive it. Your car is a piece of machinery and machinery needs utilization and exercise. You don’t have to drive it every day, especially during the MCO. You can drive it once a week, perhaps for a quick trip to the grocery store. This is to ensure your car battery is charged sufficiently and your tyres stay in good shape. If a vehicle is left stationary for too long, the tyre could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tyres’ footprints and can lead to a flat tyre. Your car will look constantly shiny and brand new if you follow the above steps and detail your car on the regular.