Lodging food and more
Getting Ready for Fall
By Sam Anderson
Just like before the beginning of fishing season each year a person
has to spend sometime in the garage to make all of their fishing equipment
including the boat, and rods and reels ready for the upcoming season.
Your fishing rig is probably in great shape for the fall season,
but what kind of shape is your vehicle or ATV in for this fall season?
Late summer and early fall is a super time to get this equipment in top
shape so when the colors start to turn you are ready to hit the lakes,
streams, forest or fields.
One of the most important, and often overlooked, subjects for truck
owners is preventive maintenance. Drivers know that they are supposed to
change their oil or get a tune-up in order to keep their truck running,
but usually they will not take a truck to a shop unless they notice a problem.
That is the whole point of preventive maintenance--to keep the car or truck
serviced so major problems do not occur.
According to the experts at Chevrolet and GMC these are a few of the
items to keep in mind for routine maintenance.
Keep in mind, much of the information here is subject to driving conditions,
habits and manufacturer's recommendations. There is information contained
in every owner's manual about their vehicle's requirements. What kind of
oil to for example.
Some engines can be damaged if the wrong SAE rating or "weight" oil
is used. There is also an API rating that tells if the oil is suitable
for use in a gasoline or a diesel engine:
SH or SJ for gasoline engines
CF for off-highway IDI diesels
CG for on-highway IDI diesels
CF-2 for two-stroke diesels
CF-4 or CG-4 for high-speed four-stroke diesels
Generally, a higher second letter in the API rating supersedes previous
ones, so a truck requiring SC-rated oil can use SJ.
Most vehicles today use automatic transmission fluid for automatic
or manual transmissions, but some manuals require special lubricants. Today's
computer-controlled transmissions are more sensitive to fluid breakdown
and contamination, so it's important to keep up with the recommended service
Not all power steering systems use ATF. Using the wrong lubricant can
be as bad as not servicing the system at all.
Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold as the pressure
does increase as the tires get hot. Maximum air pressures listed on the
side wall of a tire are just that, the maximum for that tire, not necessarily
the correct pressure for the tire when installed on your vehicle.
As the vehicles suspension settles and components wear, the alignment
is going to change, so it does need to be checked periodically. Of course,
driving off road, on rough roads or "curb-hopping" is going to affect the
alignment as well, requiring more frequent checks.
Extreme driving conditions shorten service intervals as the vehicle
is subject to increased stress. Examples of extreme conditions can be constant
stop and go traffic driving, driving in hills, towing, dusty or off-road
driving and constant hot ambient temperatures. The fluids in your vehicle
are affected by these conditions, and break down faster, necessitating
more frequent servicing in order to prevent a mechanical failure.
Once per month: Check all fluid levels under the hood. Automatic transmissions
and most power steering fluids need to be checked hot with the engine running,
check the coolant in the overflow bottle, and do not remove the radiator
cap. Note any signs of leaks or abnormal conditions--flapping drive belts,
bulging hoses. Check tire pressure and look for abnormal wear. If you own
a diesel, drain the water separator, if equipped.
Every 3000-6000 miles: Lubricate, Oil and Filter. Harsh conditions
require more frequent service than highway miles. Even if you put very
little mileage on a vehicle, it still should be done twice a year. A running
engine produces gases in the crankcase that break down the oil, even while
the vehicle sits. I do mine on 5000-mile intervals to coincide with:
Every 5000 miles: Tire rotation. Front tires usually wear faster than
rear tires because they get some sideslip from cornering and have more
up and down movement than the rear tires. It's best to rotate the tires
before abnormal wear becomes apparent. When rotating, cross the tires from
one axle left to right while rotating the other two front to back. This
ensures that the each tire ends up on a different corner of the vehicle
than previously, matching the wear patterns on all four. It is acceptable
to have a radial tire rotate in a different direction than before providing
its tread is not designed to rotate in one direction only. Some high performance
tires are directional, as well as some dress wheels. It's easier to remember
to rotate your tires if you have it done with another service. If you feel
your vehicle needs the oil changed every 3000 miles, then rotate your tires
every other time.
Once a year: Have all the lights, the windshield wipers, battery and
cables, charging and starting systems, belts and hoses checked and serviced
as needed. Have the radiator and air conditioning condenser fins cleaned
out. If you can find a shop with a policy of giving credit for any refrigerant
recovered from you vehicle's air conditioning system, have the system recovered,
evacuated to remove moisture and recharged. Have the entire vehicle inspected
for leaks, and the cooling system and radiator cap pressure tested.
Every 15000 miles: Complete vehicle inspection including brakes, chassis
fluid levels and steering and suspension components for wear. The wheel
bearings, if serviceable, should be cleaned and repacked and the brake
caliper slides cleaned and lubed. Have the wheel alignment checked. Have
the cooling system checked to prevent leaks due to gasket or hose deterioration
from electrolysis. In areas with highly alkaline water have the cooling
system chemically treated and flushed. The air and fuel filters should
be replaced and if you own a very old truck, it's time for a tune-up. Diesel
vehicles should have a special conditioner added to their cooling system
at this time. The additive prevents deterioration of the cylinder walls.
The amount depends on cooling system capacity, but the minimum recommended
is 4 oz per gallon.
Every 30,000 miles: This should be the first really major service for
your vehicle. The services listed above should be done as well as the following.
The coolant should be drained and replaced, possibly the system flushed.
The transmission fluid should be drained and the filter cleaned or replaced.
Even if the engine is running fine, at least have the computer system checked
for trouble codes and the engine scope analyzed for potential problems.
If your vehicle is five years or older, its probably time for a tune-up
including an injector service. If you own a diesel, consider having the
injection pump timing and glow plug system checked. Diesels also need to
have the conditioner added to their cooling system during the service--4
oz per gallon total cooling system capacity is the minimum, 9.6 oz per
At 60,000 miles: It's pretty much the same as a 30,000 mile service,
except that trucks newer than five years old should have the spark plugs
changed and the fuel injectors serviced. Most of these vehicles don't have
the ignition components of the past, and the spark plugs are the only parts
that wear. If the throttle body is not deposit resistant, it and the idle
by-pass ports should be cleaned as well. If the hoses and belts are original,
it would be a good idea to replace them at this point. If your truck has
a timing belt, it may be time to have it replaced.
At around 100,000 miles you should have the axle lube changed if your
vehicle is a rear or four-wheel drive, as well as manual transmission fluid
drained and replaced.
If the timing belt has not already been replaced, this is about the
maximum mileage recommended by most manufacturers, so have it done to prevent
being stranded or causing major internal engine damage. If the truck has
a timing chain, have it inspected for wear or looseness.
ATV maintenance intervals are based upon average riding conditions.
Vehicles subjected to severe use, such as operation in wet or dusty areas,
should be inspected and serviced more frequently. For four stroke engines,
short trip cold weather riding may affect the condition of your engine
oil. Pay special attention to oil level in the oil tank. A rise in oil
level in cold weather can indicate moisture collecting in the oil tank.
According to the experts at Polaris Industries here are a few points
you should consider for the fall.
Change oil and filter (4-Strokes)
Change oil filter and check oil pump cable adjustment (2-Strokes)
Check oil lines and oil tank vent lines for kinks or leaks
Change Counter Balancer oil (400 cc 2-stroke engines)
Inspect Air Filter, Pre-Cleaner and Engine Breather Filter. Replace
Inspect carburetor Air Intake Ducts/Flange for proper sealing/air leaks.
Replace Fuel Filter and inspect fuel cap, lines, fuel valve, fuel pump,
and carburetor for cracks, leaks or kinks in lines. Repair or replace as
Cooling system: Check coolant strength, fill level, and inspect hoses.
Repair or replace as needed.
Radiator: Inspect and clean external surface.
Check fasteners and motor mounts. * Refer to service manual or local
dealer for torque specs.
Replace spark plug. Check ignition timing or have your local dealer
check ignition timing.
Battery: Clean terminals, check fluid level, charge battery
Lights: Check headlamp, tail lamp, running lamps and brake lamp. Replace
or repair as needed.
Check switches (headlamp, brake, AWD, key, etc.) for proper operation.
Repair or replace as needed.
Verify brake and throttle controls move freely.
General Lubrication: Check front hub fluid or bearings. Change fluid
or pack wheel bearings as needed. Grease chassis.
Transmission/Gear Case: Change fluid, check shift adjustments, check
for leaks. Repair as needed.
Drive Chain: Inspect, adjust and lubricate.
Brakes: Check fluid level in master cylinder, brake pad wear. Fill,
repair, and replace as needed.
Check suspension fasteners for proper torque (refer to service manual
or local dealer for torque specs).
The above services can be done by you (excluding those requiring special
equipment) or by any shop, not necessarily the dealer. Some shops offer
free multi-point inspections and services that cover many of the above
items. However, it is a good idea to check with the dealer service department
as they have access to bulletins and recalls that others may not know about.
I know that before fall comes I will be ready to hit the trails, roads
and fields with my vehicles. If you want more tips about your ATV
or your vehicle drop me a line on the web at www.samanderson.com
and we can discuss what you need to do to get ready for the fall.
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