Car Maintenance You Don’t Need

Automotive Fuel Injector
Auto Facts repair manuals
Auto Facts Repair Manuals

Before we open the can of worms about car maintenance you don’t need let me go on the record about automotive maintenance. For the most part, you should follow the factory recommendations and owner’s manual religiously.

The engineers designed the maintenance plan to protect the automobile. These factory employees didn’t do it for you. They did it to hold down warranty repairs for the company they work for. This is especially true for vehicles that now have power train warranties of seven years or 70,000 miles or longer.

In many cases when you review the recommended services they strike a nice balance between over maintaining and under maintaining the automobile. With that said, you’ll find a few instances where the factory maintenance recommended leans towards the shop or the dealership service department. We’ll talk more about that in this car maintenance you don’t need article.

The Throttle Body Services Up Sell

Chevrolet Throttle Body
Chevrolet Throttle Body

When you go in for an oil change on a vehicle with some miles on it you often get a list of recommended services the shop thinks you should purchase. When the recommendations are not listed in the owner’s manual I question the validity of the suggestion.

Is the shop saying you need a throttle body or fuel injection service because it will benefit your automobile or the bottom line of the repair center? First of all, the vehicle is designed to compensate for a dirty throttle body and injectors that aren’t as clean and shiny as the day they rolled off the factory floor.

In the case of the throttle body, the idle air control motor allows more air to enter the engine at idle to compensate for restricted air passages. Once the engine is off idle, the throttle plate allows more than enough air into the combustion chamber regardless of the cleanliness of the throttle assembly.

Therefore, a throttle body service on an automobile that idols perfectly seems a waste of time. Does this mean that you never need to clean the throttle plates? When the engine reaches several hundred thousand miles it may reach the point where it can’t compensate for the dirty air passages.

The take away here is to ask why they recommended the throttle body service in the first place. Then ask how it will benefit you or the automobile. If the answer is, it will increase power and fuel economy, your reply should be, this is car maintenance I don’t need.

The Fuel Injection Service

Motorcraft Fuel Injector
Motorcraft Fuel Injector

As in the case with the throttle body the vehicle engineers designed the ability for the fuel injectors to compensate when fuel flow is less than optimal. If the fuel injector starts to become clogged or the spray pattern changes the computer will automatically adjust the on time of the injector pulse.

This allows the air fuel ratio to maintain its balance even if the injector becomes a little inefficient. With that said, the injector doesn’t have as much of an ability to adjust on the fly as the throttle body mentioned above. However, if a fuel injector becomes dirty enough for a cleaning other symptoms arise.

A multitude of check engine light codes can set when an increased on time command is sent from the computer. In addition, a lack of power, poor fuel economy and sometimes a run on condition occur. A run on condition is sometimes called dieseling. This is when you turn off the key and the engine continues to sputter or run for a few seconds. This is a sign that the injector becomes unable to close completely to seal off the fuel when commanded.

What Kind of Fuel Injection Cleaning Service

Fuel Injector Cleaner
Fuel Injector Cleaner

Since there are situations when a fuel injection cleaning service becomes necessary let’s talk about how the auto repair shop will perform the service. Some shops will add a cleaner to the tank in the form of an additive. This is something that you can do on your own. This way you avoid the astonishing markup on an inexpensive fuel additive.

Skilled technicians that clean fuel injectors properly use a pressurized delivery device containing concentrated cleaning products. They disable the automobile fuel pump and run the engine directly on the specialized cleaner. This quickly restores even the most stubborn injectors.

With that said, when a fuel injector malfunctions it’s often a failure of the part itself. In this situation, no amount of cleaning will accomplish the restoration of the automotive part. Therefore, beware of shops that recommend trying to clean injectors before replacing them. The percentage of situations where this is successful remains extremely low.

Factory Recommended Car Maintenance You Don’t Need

Coolant test strips
Coolant test strips

In some cases it seems that the factory recommended car maintenance is a little overkill. Sometimes car-makers might issue blanket recommendations for fluid changes. Two of the big culprits remain engine antifreeze and hydraulic brake fluid.

Again this depends on the manufacturer and the way they present the recommendations to the owner. Infiniti and Nissan recommend hydraulic brake fluid changes every three years or 30,000 miles. On vehicles that accrue average mileage the 30,000 mile mark comes quickly.

If the fluid is only a year and a half old and the vehicle was used in a light-duty situation chances are this brake fluid could go further. This is when you apply common sense of the maintenance guideline. If you find the fluid full and honey colored consider holding off on changing this until you reach the three year mark.

However, if the automobile does a lot of high-speed braking or the hydraulic oil looks discolored when compared to new brake fluid then go ahead and change it. This same common sense applies to the engine coolant. Modern antifreeze enjoys an extended life.

Furthermore, testing the pH level of the existing coolant becomes possible with test strips. You can dip these into a cold radiator and the strip will turn colors. This provides pinpoint accurate information on the health of the automobile’s engine coolant. This kind of information becomes more reliable than a blanket statement from the factory.