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  1. #1
    50/50 Road/eBike Commuter kmcrawford111's Avatar
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    Car Maintenance for the Car-Lite

    Disclaimer: I wouldn't be surprised if this topic has come up before, so I did try a search. I tried to search topics only for "car maintenance" and the results were topics that didn't have both words.

    For the car-lite, how often do you have regular maintenance done? Is it really necessary to get an oil change done every 3, or even 6 months if you are driving the car relatively little? It seems to me that the "3000 mile" dogma is largely bunk designed to keep the $ flowing into shops, because the owner's manuals of two of the cars we've owned specified 5000 miles, and it seems to me they would have reason to be as conservative as any to curb warranty expenses. The 3-month rule, though, I'm not knowledgeable to dispute.

    With my current commuting, I plan to put about 2500-3000 miles on my truck (1998 Ranger) per year. I still want regular maintenance to be done on the thing to keep it running well, of course, but I also don't want to have it done more than necessary. So how often? It would be nice if once a year, or even less, were enough.

    And how about waxing? Would yearly be enough?

    It's garage-kept at home, but parked outside at work.

    I use K&N air filters in both of our cars.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by kmcrawford111; 08-29-07 at 11:28 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    I'd put a Mobil 1 filter in, premium synthetic oil, and change it every 5 thousand, adding a quart after 3000 miles. I've never worried about how long the oil has been in the engine, only how many miles. And run it at least once a week for 10 minutes if you don't drive it at all for a week. And if you do a bunch of short trips, remember every couple hundred miles or so to take it on the freeway for a little while to clean the engine out.

    Can't help you with waxing because I almost never do it. Around here, cars rust out from the inside out usually. My guess is it's the same way in indiana.
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  3. #3
    50/50 Road/eBike Commuter kmcrawford111's Avatar
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    Thanks, Michigander. I'm glad you mentioned a specific oil; I was thinking about asking whether certain oils (or even other fluids) would be better than others for a relatively little-used car. I'm willing to pay more for fluids that won't need to be changed as frequently.

  4. #4
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmcrawford111 View Post
    And how about waxing? Would yearly be enough?
    Heck, I don't even wash mine, much less wax it. It's still covered in mud from the weekend camping trip. It's staying that way until it rains.

    Jeep cleaning is very low maintenance.
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  5. #5
    almost kosher
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    my $0.01.
    my wagon - and former pick up truck - were garage kept, and waxing twice a year was sufficient. avoid the gimmick spray on waxes and no worry style ones. go for the brand name pastes, follow instructions and keep it clean. i treat my car like it's a big investment... because it is.

    synthetic oil is a good suggestion, running the car every now and then certainly isnt a bad idea, if it sits for a while. follow the supplied maintenance routine in your owner's manual and keep receipts. it seems excessive to a lot of people, but it'll make sure it's around for a long time. have fun!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmcrawford111 View Post
    Thanks, Michigander. I'm glad you mentioned a specific oil; I was thinking about asking whether certain oils (or even other fluids) would be better than others for a relatively little-used car. I'm willing to pay more for fluids that won't need to be changed as frequently.
    For any use, I reccomend synthetic. And oil stabilizer every other change is good too. Oil stabilizer by itself can increase engine life by 50,000 miles if you properly warm the engine in the winter.
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  7. #7
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander View Post
    I'd put a Mobil 1 filter in, premium synthetic oil, and change it every 5 thousand, adding a quart after 3000 miles. I've never worried about how long the oil has been in the engine, only how many miles. And run it at least once a week for 10 minutes if you don't drive it at all for a week. And if you do a bunch of short trips, remember every couple hundred miles or so to take it on the freeway for a little while to clean the engine out.

    Can't help you with waxing because I almost never do it. Around here, cars rust out from the inside out usually. My guess is it's the same way in indiana.
    You shouldn't have to add a quart if the car is not leaking or burning oil. Check the dipstick for levels. It is VERY BAD to overfill your oil. It will make the seals leak due to over pressure and from then on the car will burn oil.

    If you keep a car stored for too long with no miles, the viscosity in the oil still deteriorates over time. I'd change to oil to keep it fresh. Better to pay for oil than a new engine.

    Don't forget to run the air conditioner every once in a while to keep running nicely.

    Check the radiator fluid for gunk build up. It breaks down as well. When the engine is cool, open the radiator and look at the cap. (I stick my finger in and feel around in there) If there is a sludge type of gunk in there it's time for a flush and change.

    Always check the fluid levels. Transmission fluid should be pink and not smell burnt. Brake fluid level I usually don't mess with unless it is low or black.

    As for wax? I always wax.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Even a new engine will burn a quart off every 3,000 or so. Yes it's good to make sure it needs it, but I've never seen an engine that could go on for thousands of miles without burning a little oil.
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  9. #9
    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander View Post
    For any use, I reccomend synthetic. And oil stabilizer every other change is good too. Oil stabilizer by itself can increase engine life by 50,000 miles if you properly warm the engine in the winter.
    Don't switch to synthetic if the engine has significant mileage on regular oil.
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    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

  10. #10
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander View Post
    Even a new engine will burn a quart off every 3,000 or so. Yes it's good to make sure it needs it, but I've never seen an engine that could go on for thousands of miles without burning a little oil.
    None of mine burn oil. But then again I change it every 3k so maybe I don't notice it.
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  11. #11
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    If you can manage to wax 3-4x a year, I think the body of you're car will thank you. I've got to do mine some time before winter hits.

    As far as maintenance goes, do you still have the owners manual? There should be a "suggested maintenance schedule" in there. If in doubt, just follow that. The 3000 mile rule is, in my opinion, defunct. my '93 accord recommends 7500 mile oil change intervals. It's had two owners thus far, and has seen only synthetic oil from the start, with 7500 mile intervals. I'm up to 273,880 miles with no major engine work done. You could probably clean your K&N once a year too.
    Keep up with your tire pressure though, I think a lot of people neglect to do this and pay the price in fuel consumption.
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  12. #12
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    I think adding a quart every 3000 miles means you're working on a band aid. If you're leaking that much oil, you're either driving an old diesel or you've got some seals in need of replacement.
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    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    OMG. I understood Phantomcow's last two posts!!


    As for the 3k rule, you and many others are probably right. I'm just old school. I figure changing the oil more often than needed is better than not changing it enough. I figure it really doesn't hurt anything other than my pocket book because I recycle all my oil.
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  14. #14
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    I think some people get great satisfaction from changing their oil, and that's why they do it every 3000 miles. I say, if this is how you get satisfaction, go for it! If you go synthetic at 7 bucks a quart, that's between 28-45 dollars for most cars. Figure going out to dinner and movie most likely costs a lot more than this, so that's a fairly economical way to get a sense of accomplishment.
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  15. #15
    shaken, not stirred. gnome's Avatar
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    Do all your fluid changes by the manual

    Quote Originally Posted by kmcrawford111 View Post
    Disclaimer: I wouldn't be surprised if this topic has come up before, so I did try a search. I tried to search topics only for "car maintenance" and the results were topics that didn't have both words.

    For the car-lite, how often do you have regular maintenance done? Is it really necessary to get an oil change done every 3, or even 6 months if you are driving the car relatively little? It seems to me that the "3000 mile" dogma is largely bunk designed to keep the $ flowing into shops, because the owner's manuals of two of the cars we've owned specified 5000 miles, and it seems to me they would have reason to be as conservative as any to curb warranty expenses. The 3-month rule, though, I'm not knowledgeable to dispute.

    With my current commuting, I plan to put about 2500-3000 miles on my truck (1998 Ranger) per year. I still want regular maintenance to be done on the thing to keep it running well, of course, but I also don't want to have it done more than necessary. So how often? It would be nice if once a year, or even less, were enough.
    I would recommend changing the oil every six months or whatever milage is in the owners manual, whatever comes first. Change your other fluids when the manual recommends. All the fluids in a motor vehicle will breakdown over time. I have to change the oil in my car every 3000m because it is air cooled and the oil helps cool it.

    If you are not using you truck for extended periods of time, I would suggest that you disconnect the battery. There is nothing worse than not being able to start your car on the few occasions you want to. I had to call out the breakdown people last night when I went to pick up another bike and the battery was flat from lack of use.

    You should not only start your truck regularly but also drive it once a month for an out of town run so that the fluids get circulated and warmed up, to keep the electrics and brakes working properly.

    You should check you tyre pressures on a regular basis. Not only do under-inflated tyres increase your fuel consumption but can make your unsafe to drive.

    I base all my recommendations on past experience (except the unsafe tyres) of things I have done wrong. A motor vehicle that is not used regularly tends to develop minor brake, electric and fuel system faults in my experience. Now I must go and try and start one of my cars that I haven't had going for several years.
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  16. #16
    Banned Indy_Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trsidn View Post
    Don't switch to synthetic if the engine has significant mileage on regular oil.
    That is an old myth.

    I run Mobil 1 and K&N filters (I like the standard 1" wrench head on them) change oil ever 10k miles. Oil looks good still and valves also still appear clean doing this.

    I try to wax every couple of months. While the car will still eventually rust, the paint will last longer so you can keep your car looking good longer.

  17. #17
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Everyone mentions oil, but there's plenty of other things to do. You should replace brake and clutch fluid every 2 years or so. Over time, the stuff in the system will degrade and moisture will accumulate -- that eats seals in calipers, master cylinders, etc. Replace coolant every 2 years. That stuff also degrades and you don't want your water pump going bad. Replace transmission fluid about every 30K miles. Check and clean cap and rotor once a year -- good for electrical connections. Don't forget air filter every 15K miles and fuel filter every 80K or when performance seems to suffer.

    As for the oil, ordinary stuff of the correct grade is just fine, but I think it's a good idea to replace more often. Oil is one of the cheapest forms of prevention there is and if your gets low or dirty, you will ruin your engine. I wouldn't bother with synthetic unless you live in a particularly cold climate.

    I just got rid of a car that had over 200K original miles on it -- the only repair I paid for in 12 years was to replace a CV boot at 165K miles. The car I owned previously for 8 years also never needed to be repaired. Both cars worked great when I sold them.

    The basic rule is keep your fluids, filters, and electrical connections clean and you'll go a long way.Waxing is a matter of personal choice. Your car will be fine at once a year, but it will look better if you do it more often.

  18. #18
    Banned Indy_Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    Everyone mentions oil, but there's plenty of other things to do. You should replace brake and clutch fluid every 2 years or so. Over time, the stuff in the system will degrade and moisture will accumulate -- that eats seals in calipers, master cylinders, etc. Replace coolant every 2 years. That stuff also degrades and you don't want your water pump going bad. Replace transmission fluid about every 30K miles. Check and clean cap and rotor once a year -- good for electrical connections. Don't forget air filter every 15K miles and fuel filter every 80K or when performance seems to suffer.

    As for the oil, ordinary stuff of the correct grade is just fine, but I think it's a good idea to replace more often. Oil is one of the cheapest forms of prevention there is and if your gets low or dirty, you will ruin your engine. I wouldn't bother with synthetic unless you live in a particularly cold climate.

    I just got rid of a car that had over 200K original miles on it -- the only repair I paid for in 12 years was to replace a CV boot at 165K miles. The car I owned previously for 8 years also never needed to be repaired. Both cars worked great when I sold them.

    The basic rule is keep your fluids, filters, and electrical connections clean and you'll go a long way.Waxing is a matter of personal choice. Your car will be fine at once a year, but it will look better if you do it more often.
    Coolant depends on the type you have. If you have the red stuff, it will last longer. But never mix the red and green antifreeze unless you really want to replace your radiator for some reason.

  19. #19
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    Check out www.bobistheoilguy.com for vehicle maintenance info. You will find that a lot of the things you have read in this thread are false.

  20. #20
    Sleeper JeeperTim's Avatar
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    I have 6 vehicles. I change oil at least once a year or 5000 miles whichever comes first. The only exception is the motorhome - it gets changed every 3000 miles because that motor is working hard all the time. I don't run synthetic in the motors because I change it plenty often anyway - but I run synthetic oils in transmissions, t-cases, diff's etc - they don't get changed as often and need it. I run DOT 5 fluid in all hydraulic clutches - way less trouble with the cylinders than you get with DOT 3.

    I have a lift in my shop and do all my own work - sort of my hobby.
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  21. #21
    50/50 Road/eBike Commuter kmcrawford111's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buccaneer View Post
    Check out www.bobistheoilguy.com for vehicle maintenance info. You will find that a lot of the things you have read in this thread are false.
    Thank you, but are you certain that is the correct URL? Not working for me.

  22. #22
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    I remember years ago when the oil change interval was generally 5K. I remember cars that recommended 7500-ish.
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

  23. #23
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander View Post
    Even a new engine will burn a quart off every 3,000 or so. Yes it's good to make sure it needs it, but I've never seen an engine that could go on for thousands of miles without burning a little oil.
    This is not my experience. The car I mentioned in a previous message didn't burn that much even after 200K miles. However, with age it did start to burn a little.

    Although your car will work fine if you change oil every 5K miles, I still like to do every 3K. The main reason is that when you are changing the oil, it's a good opportunity to notice other small things -- CV boots going bad, tiny leaks, low or dirty fluids, the fact that you are burning oil, etc. The more you look at your vehicle, the more likely you are to notice when something's a bit out of whack. The trick to easy maintenance is to catch things before they become a problem.

    I don't know what kind of engine the 98 Ranger has, but if it doesn't have self adjusting valves, those will need to be adjusted from time to time. I used to adjust valves on my Honda every 15K miles. Also, learn to inspect your brake pads, rotors, and drums even if you don't plan to work on these things yourself. It's very easy and knowing the exact condition of your brakes can prevent you from putting out unnecessary $$.

    The owners manual should contain a maintenance schedule that covers all the key areas.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Hasselhof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmcrawford111 View Post
    Thank you, but are you certain that is the correct URL? Not working for me.
    Try here

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hasselhof View Post
    Try here
    Thanks Hasselhof, that's the site I was talking about. Check out the forums for some very informative discussions on just about anything car related you can dream of.

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