Customers often ask questions about car maintenance. The best rule is to follow the maintenance schedule in your vehicle owner’s manual. Other services are rarely needed. Keep your vehicle owner’s manual in the glove box so you can refer to it for maintenance information.
Engine Oil Additives are not needed and should not be added to your car. The manufacturer of your vehicle specifies the proper oil and altering the chemical composition may result in a product that does not meet factory specifications and could harm your engine.
Gasoline additives are rarely needed and can reduce the quality of the gasoline your car uses. The only time an additive should be used is if there is concern that water may be in the fuel. Adding ethylene gasoline antifreeze will generally solve that problem. Gasoline and water do not mix with each other and in cold weather the moisture can freeze and keep the engine from starting or cause rough running. When you add gasoline antifreeze, it combines the water with the gasoline and as you drive your car, the water is removed as the fuel burns.
A few years ago, several car manufacturers worked together to develop fuel standards that were higher than those imposed by the federal government. Some gasoline manufacturers welcomed the stricter standards and signed up with the program to produce Top Tier gasoline. These auto manufacturers believe that higher gasoline standards result in cleaner engines, cleaner burning, and better performance. Current EPA minimum requirements are substantially below the Top Tier standard. Audi, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen call for the use of Top Tier gasoline in most of their vehicles. The following fuels sold in our area meet the Top Tier standard: BP, Chevron, Costco Wholesale, CountryMark, Exxon, Mobile, Shell, and Texaco. Gasoline refiners that participate in the program guarantee that all the fuel they sell in the United States meets Top Tier standards. Check your owner’s manual for more details.
Expensive gasoline Is not needed in most engines and will not help your car run cleaner or more efficiently. Using a higher octane gasoline than called for by the vehicle manufacturer will not make your engine run better. Your owner’s manual will tell you what fuel is recommended for your car.
Tire manufacturers do not call for the use of nitrogen in automobile or light truck tires. Nitrogen will not harm your tires, but it won’t help them either. A sales point for nitrogen is that it is used in airplane tires and that sounds good until you remember that your car does not use airplane tires, it does not land at 150 mph, and it does not quickly descend from 30,000 feet where the temperature is 30º below zero to an airstrip where the temperature is 90º. The best thing you can do for your tires is to simply keep them properly inflated according to the tire label on the driver’s door or door frame of the car and make sure the alignment is correct.
Coolant is often neglected and should be flushed and changed according to the owner’s manual schedule. Use only the type of antifreeze called for as other types can harm your car and do not use additives which will alter the chemical formulation.
Timing Belts are often neglected until they break and with many engines that can cause serious expense and sometimes ruin an engine. Make sure that you never drive longer between belt changes than the vehicle manufacturer calls for.