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Importance of vehicle servicing

By Joseph Murambiwa
What is vehicle servicing? What does it entail? And is it that important to take our vehicles for servicing at regular intervals? What are the repercussions of not regularly servicing our vehicles?

What is vehicle servicing?
A motor vehicle service or tune-up is a series of maintenance procedures carried out at a set time interval or after the vehicle has travelled a certain distance.
The service intervals are specified by the vehicle manufacturer in a service schedule and some modern cars display the due date for the next service electronically on the instrument panel. A tune-up should not be confused with engine tuning, which is the modifying of an engine to perform better than the original specification, rather than using maintenance to keep the engine running as it should.

The completed services are usually recorded in a service book which is rubber-stamped by the service centre upon completion of each service. A complete service history usually adds to the resale value of a vehicle.
Most of us tend to take servicing our vehicles for granted; citing financial constraints or we wait for it to breakdown. It is equally important to have our vehicles serviced as this not only prolongs its life span, but helps in keeping our engines in good shape and running for longer without having to open them.

Service categories
There are mainly three categories of vehicle servicing and these are grouped into classes. ‘A’ service, which can also be termed a minor service. It entails changing all filters (air, oil and fuel filters), spark plugs, engine oil, inspection of belts and hoses, inspection of the battery, pressure cleaning of the engine, topping up clutch and brake fluids.

On top of it all, the power steering fluid or AFT and radiator coolant is also topped up. To remind the motorist of the next service interval, a service sticker is attached on the windscreen. In essence, a 5000km interval from the previous service is a requisite, but most modern cars can travel up to 25000km before they are serviced.

Second category of the tune-up is the ‘B’ service, an amalgamation of the ‘A’ service. This entails checking of the rear brake shoes or disks and brake pads. If the brake shoes do seem thin, they would need to be replaced or relined.

Same applies with the front brake pads, if they do seem thin; they would need to be replaced. And if the front disk pads are uneven, they would need to be skimmed. It (skimming) is mainly advised after changing a set of brake pads.
The last category of vehicle servicing is the ‘C’ service, which can also be termed a major service. This is a merger of the A and B service, with extras like re-greasing and resetting of the wheel bearings, inspection of the suspension and electrics. Gear box and diff fluids are to be changed on this service, which is carried out at 20000km.
Once we own a set of wheels, we tend to thinks of ourselves as motor vehicle experts but in all earnest, we run the risk of running down our vehicles, either by ignorance or default.

The service kit
The service kit is a collection of motor vehicle spare parts used in vehicle servicing or tune up services.
A basic service kit comprises of the fuel, air and oil filters, engine oil and spark plugs for petrol engines. Although in most cases, motor vehicle owners are coerced into buying degreasers, engine flush and injector cleaners, these are not necessary, unless recommended by a certified mechanic or garage owner. The degreaser is mainly provided for by the individual or service center rendering the tune up. When purchasing a service kit, one has to be wary of buying counterfeit parts, as this has a detrimental effect to the vehicle.

The fuel filter
Most cars do have a replaceable fuel filter, but most modern cars do run an inline fuel filter, which is fitted in tank. But for ones with a replaceable fuel filter, it is highly advised to change it as a dirty filter can damage the fuel pump and injectors.
Fuel injection systems create an expanse of heat and need an unbarred fuel flow to keep pump and injectors cool. As fuel filter plugs up with dirt/restriction, the fuel filter flow is restricted.
In extreme cases, this filter pressure can cause filter failure, which sends contamination into the injection system and contaminated fuel is the last thing needed in fuel systems.

Changing the oil filter
An oil filter is a ‘strainer’ designed to remove contaminants from engine oil, transmission oil, lubricating oil or hydraulic oil. Silica dirt is by far the biggest factor in engine wear as it intrudes past seals and filters.
As it combines with carbon, silica forms an abrasive called cerebrum, which is bad for the engine.

Changing the air filter
A clogged air filter causes an increase in fuel consumption. On turbo vehicles, it causes it to spin faster in an attempt to get enough air for the turbo. When one frequently drives in gravel roads, the air filter must be changed regularly as this causes an imminent damage to the engine. If dirt gets past the air filter, then turbo and engine damage is imminent.

Changing Spark plugs
A spark plug is a device for delivering electric current from an ignition system to the combustion chamber of a spark-ignition engine to ignite the compressed fuel/air mixture by an electric spark, while containing combustion pressure within the engine. It is important to change spark plugs at regular intervals as this maintains complete combustion. Worn spark plugs may cause your vehicle to misfire, hard start or cause an increase in fuel consumption.

Changing fluids
Changing your motor vehicle fluids is an important aspect of a regular service interval. The basic fluids used on a motor vehicle are the engine oil, gearbox oil, automatic transmission fluid (power steering fluid), diff oil, coolant and brake fluid.
These fluids help in the lubrication of different parts as the vehicle is in motion, although brake fluid is vegetable-based oil and it has a different role.
As per manufacturer specifications, most manufacturers recommend transmission fluid to be changed every 45000-60000km.

Effects of not regularly servicing your vehicle
As important as it is for one to go for regular medical checkups, it is equally important to regularly service our vehicles.
This (servicing) does not only prolong the vehicle’s lifespan, the fuel consumption is minimised. Loss of power is mainly attributed to a bad service record; hence it is curbed once the vehicle is serviced. Replacing of all filters helps curb contamination into the engine. Also, with a complete service record, one is able to fetch a good price for their vehicle in the event they decide to sell it. Nhau/Indaba

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