Proper Fluids for Your VehicleOctober 23, 2012

We would like to give you an update on some of the things happening in automotive fluids. You know, cars are becoming more sophisticated everyday – and fluids such as, oil, coolant and transmission fluid are becoming more specialized at about the same pace.

The do-it-yourselfer has to be pretty careful so that they do not actually harm their vehicle with the wrong type of fluid. That is why so many TX car owners rely on the advice of their service consultant to not only get the correct family of fluids, but to suggest the formulation that is best for their car and the way they drive.

Let’s start with engine oil. If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed a number of new oil weights on the scene in the last several years. Modern engines are built to much tighter tolerances and have very complicated valve trains. The oil must be thin enough to lubricate complicated parts when the engine is cold. The weight of an oil is expressed in terms like 20-W-50 or 5-W-30. Manufacturers recommend the weight of oil for each vehicle they make. The recommendation is based on engine design. Your Rowlett service center will know what weight your manufacturer recommends – and it’s important to follow those recommendations. A service adviser at Lewis Complete Auto Repair can also offer suggestions for special formulations and can explain conventional and synthetic oils.

Antifreeze, or engine coolant, is another area that has become more complicated. For a long time, manufacturers only called for a couple of different types of coolant. Now there are several different formulations that are needed because of the different materials that manufacturers are using to build the cooling system. Using the wrong type of coolant can actually void your warranty, so you want to get that right.

Transmission fluid is beginning to be specialized as well. New transmission designs have particular requirements that mandate the use of specific formulations. Recently, new, somewhat confusing, standards for brake fluid have also been released.

Not too long ago, there was a good chance that all of the vehicles at your house would use many of the same fluids. However, as automotive technology advances, the array of basic automotive fluids you need will grow. And, some of the formulations will cost a little more. Fortunately, your Rowlett service center will continue to update their training to keep pace with technology so that you’ll get the right fluids your car needs. It’s all part of the commitment your service center makes to your driving peace of mind.

Severe Service RequirementsOctober 23, 2012

A lot of our viewers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their car owners’ manual. It can be confusing. Let’s clear the air on this subject. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufacturer of automotive products and fluids. She’s been in the automotive business for 20 years and is a speaker, a trainer, and a writer. Cricket says there’s so much confusion on this topic because, “Most owners’ manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called ‘regular service’ and ‘severe service’. Sometimes they’re simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement, and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time.

Manufacturers create these specific schedules for each vehicle they make. So there isn’t one generic schedule that applies to all cars. In addition to your owners’ manual, Rowlett automotive repair centers subscribe to information services that provide the maintenance schedules for every vehicle – so they can help you know when to take care of needed services. Below is a typical definition for severe service.

  • Most trips are less than four miles
  • Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
  • You drive in very hot weather
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the highway)
  • Stop and go driving
  • You operate your vehicle in dusty or muddy conditions
  • You tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier

It’s common sense: Just a few minutes at freeway speeds allows the moisture in the oil to evaporate. Very short trips, or trips of less than ten miles when it’s very cold, don’t allow the engine to heat up enough to get rid of the water. And water in the oil leads to damaging sludge. Also, towing and heavy loads raise operating temperatures and cause fluids to breakdown more quickly. Dusty and muddy driving means that more dirt will get past the air filter to contaminate the fuel system and engine oil.

The bottom line is that you need to decide for yourself if the regular or severe service schedule is right for you, based on your driving. Look at your owners’ manual, or talk with your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor who can help you know which schedule to follow. Lewis Complete Auto Repair is located at 5110 Grisham Dr., Rowlett TX.,

Here is what a fleet manager said recently: “Since city miles are generally tougher on vehicles than highway miles, we use the manufacturer’s severe service schedule as the basis for our preventative maintenance program. We massage those schedules over time, increasing or decreasing the service intervals so that they make the most sense. There is a little bit of art to go along with the science.

Make an honest evaluation of your driving habits. Unless you do mostly TX highway driving in moderate weather, you’ll likely have a fairly good amount of severe service mixed in. Some people just want to play it safe and follow the severe service recommendations, rather than analyzing how they drive each month.