A d v a n c e d   A u t o   M a i n t e n a n c e




 

Few of our possessions have the potential to inflict as much financial pain and inconvenience on us when they fail as our motor vehicles.  Many of us rely heavily on our vehicles for travel to and from work, for shopping, visiting friends and any number of things involving physical movement from A to B.  It’s discouraging and expensive to be at the mercy of our motor vehicles when they break down.  Our schedules can be thrown into turmoil if our vehicles suddenly decide that they’re not going to function properly and our cash flows can take a hit for the cost of the repairs involved in getting the vehicles to operate again.

There’s been a growing realisation among motorists over the last ten years that taking a proactive approach to auto maintenance can lead to greater control over the reliability and performance of a vehicle and over its condition.  Many motorists have realised that a lot of problems and even breakdowns can be avoided with some foresight and planning to keep their vehicles in good running order.

The reality is that motor vehicle performance is a spectrum from ‘Very poor; About to die; Fit for the motor vehicle wreckers’ to ‘Outstanding; Smooth and powerful; I am NEVER selling this car!’.  With the progress of motoring technology culminating in where we currently are in the twenty-first century, there’s no reason why we have to settle for performance somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.  We don’t have to settle for ‘good running order’ any more.  If your vehicle is currently in ‘good running order’, then I strongly suspect that it’s possible to get it running as well as the day it left the showroom floor and possibly even better.

This website is about the procedures and systems for maintaining a motor vehicle that will absolutely minimise the wear and tear on that vehicle so that it rarely, if ever, needs to be pulled apart to have the engine reconditioned or the fuel injectors cleaned or the automatic transmission repaired.  All of these kinds of repairs represent a failure of the maintenance of the vehicle to prevent wear and tear inside these vehicle systems (ie. engine, fuel system, automatic transmission) and the inevitable, resulting malfunctioning that leads to the mechanics needing to open the vehicle up with their tools much like a surgeon opens a patient up on the operating table to work on their bodily systems.

For example, if you have a vehicle with electronic fuel injection, it makes a lot more sense to use a high-quality fuel additive every time you fill up the vehicle with fuel to keep the fuel injection system continuously clean of contaminants in the fuel, than it does to pay a mechanic so many hundred dollars to pull the fuel injection system apart and clean the fuel injectors.  It’s also a lot cheaper to use a high-quality fuel additive such as GreenSky 3-in-1 fuel conditioner, costing less than 1 cent per kilometre (less than 1.6 cents per mile).  The fuel injection system contains precision-engineered components such as the injectors which are much better off being maintained internally by a high-quality fuel additive than being disassembled, cleaned and reassembled.  A sure sign of a vehicle that’s maintained properly and correctly is that there’s seldom a need to pull anything on the vehicle apart, aside from expected routine maintenance.

I’ll never forget an elderly gentleman showing me his pride and joy at a service station where I worked pumping petrol at the beginning of my twenties.  The car was spotless; it was about fifteen to twenty years old at that time and he beamed at me proudly, saying, “It’s never had to be pulled apart”, referring to the engine, transmission and probably all the other systems on the vehicle as well.  He’d maintained that vehicle so well that nothing ever went wrong with it.  He never had to send his mechanic in with a socket set to open it up.  This is exactly how motor vehicles should be maintained.  This is precisely the hallmark of a vehicle in its optimal state.  “It’s never had to be pulled apart.”

Something about that elderly man and his gleaming vehicle really sunk in for me.  I realised instinctively that the reason his car was almost glowing was because he’d maintained it in all of the best possible ways.  At the time, I didn’t have the faintest idea what those were but I was determined to find out.  Over the next fifteen or so years, I pursued mechanical know-how with enthusiasm, suffering, fascination and even awe.  I’ve always wanted to be able to maintain my own vehicle well, and now I do.  This website is the culmination of my journey which began slowly, then plodded along until all the pieces eventually fell into place and I finally understood what it takes to get a motor vehicle running like a Swiss clock that never misses a beat.

This website can be read from top to bottom but it can just as easily be read like a reference book, a section at a time.  I do recommend that you start by reading the two sections on safety in their entirety, Safety First and Working Safely Under A Raised Vehicle, which are the two most important sections on this site.  Because of the different dangers associated with auto maintenance, the time you spend reading these sections could easily save you from serious injury or even death.  It would also be beneficial to read the sections Maintenance Lessons Learned and Avoiding Start-Up Engine Wear before reading the other sections on the website.  Since these early sections provide foundational information, the later sections of the website on the different vehicle systems will make more sense if you’ve already read these early sections.





Getting Started


Strategy


Safety first


Working safely under a raised vehicle





General Auto Maintenance


Getting organised


Maintaining automotive fluids


Maintenance lessons learned


Degreasing the engine bay





Driving Habits


Avoiding start-up engine wear


Driving to minimise wear


Driving to avoid accidents





Vehicle Body


Vehicle body electronic corrosion protection


Vehicle body cleaning and waxing


Vehicle body preventative maintenance





Engine Lubrication System


Engine oil background


Conventional engine oil filtration


Bypass engine oil filtration


Engine oil do’s and don’ts


Checking the engine oil level





Engine Cooling System


Engine cooling system do’s and don’ts


Changing the engine coolant





Other Engine Systems


Fuel system


Ignition system


Battery





Drivetrain


Automatic transmission do’s and don’ts


Checking the automatic transmission fluid level


External automatic transmission fluid filtration


Changing the automatic transmission fluid


Replacing the internal automatic transmission fluid filter


Changing the manual transmission fluid


Changing the differential fluid





Braking System


Braking system do’s and don’ts


Checking the brake fluid level


Inspecting the braking system





Suspension and Steering


Suspension and steering


Power steering system





Wheels and Tyres


Wheels and tyres do’s and don’ts


Checking the tyre pressure


Cleaning alloy wheels


Fixing a tyre puncture





Fuel Economy


Improving fuel economy

 




Copyright 2016 Andrew Mackinnon.  All rights reserved.