Archive for June 26, 2012

How to Know When to Change Your Oil At Exclusive Motors

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Today in the Exclusive Motors auto care blog, we’re going to talk about oil change intervals. It seems that as engine technology advances, recommended oil change intervals have gotten longer for Exclusive Motors customers. High quality oil in a well-engineered Mercedes – Lexus engine has lead to extended intervals. But it’s also lead to some confusion among Placentia drivers.

The old mantra “change your oil every three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first” once applied to every vehicle in your garage. Time and miles take their toll on motor oil. But now, you could have a different oil change recommendation for every car or truck you own.

Placentia people are like everybody else, they have a tendency to put off all the oil changes to the schedule of the vehicle with the longest interval. Of course, that can lead to problems. How to Know When to Change Your Oil At Exclusive MotorsFor example, recently four of the world’s largest auto manufacturers shortened the published intervals for several of their engines. They originally published intervals that extended out to a much as 8,000 miles.

In real world Placentia driving, the oil started to sludge up before the recommended change interval. Oil sludge is a thick jelly-like substance. Quite literally petroleum jelly – like Vaseline. This goop was clogging Mercedes – Lexus small engine passages so the oil wouldn’t flow to some parts of the engine. This resulted in engine damage. We see it from time to time at Exclusive Motors.

The manufacturers began to offer an extended warranty to cover sludge damage. But there was a catch: the vehicle owner had to follow a new, lower service interval, and provide proof of oil changes in order to make a warranty claim.

So here’s the problem. With longer oil change intervals, it’s extremely important to follow them closely. Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles, if you went an extra month or an extra thousand miles, your oil was still fresh enough that it didn’t have time to build up much sludge.

But if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles and you go over another thousand, you’re getting into heavy sludge territory. You absolutely need to follow mileage intervals very closely. And don’t forget your severe service schedule. If you do a lot of stop and go driving in California, short trips, drive in dusty or polluted Placentia conditions, hot or cold weather, or haul heavy loads, you’re driving in severe service conditions. Your Exclusive Motors advisor can help you evaluate which schedule to follow.

So check your Mercedes – Lexus owner’s manual or talk with your Placentia service advisor about where and how you drive. Should you be changing your oil closer to the regular schedule, or the severe service schedule? You need to make the call.

Let me give you an example of this. Some newer Mercedes – Lexuss have an oil change indicator. It has a sophisticated computer algorithm that tracks number of cold starts, engine temperature, RPMs, mileage, and many more variables to come up with a recommendation for when to change the oil.

Depending on driving conditions, the indicator in one test vehicle came on at anywhere from 2,500 miles to almost 7,000 miles. It’s typically just over 4,000 miles. What this tells us is that sometimes, we’re driving easy miles that are easy on the Mercedes – Lexus – like a long road trip. Sometimes, we’re driving hard California miles – like towing a trailer or a lot of around town driving. But, usually, it’s a combination of both.

Once again, it’s up to you to make the call as to when to change your oil at Exclusive Motors to protect your Mercedes – Lexus engine. Another place where California drivers can go wrong is with the type of oil they use. More and more new cars are coming to Placentia owners filled with synthetic oil. Without going into a lot of detail right now, let’s just say that synthetic oil lasts longer and is very resistant to oil sludge.

But it also costs quite a bit more, so some Placentia people are tempted to use conventional oil for their oil changes. Now, it’s always best to use the oil recommended by your manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual see if a conventional oil alternative is allowed.

But getting back to the problem, if your Mercedes – Lexus came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended oil change interval is for synthetic oil. If you use conventional oil, you can’t use the synthetic interval. You need to shorten it.

Risk of Extended Oil Change Intervals

Nothing in your engine workers harder than your oil. With hundreds of moving parts, and thousands of explosions every minute, it’s no wonder that engine oil needs to be changed frequently!

You’ve probably heard the old rule of thumb: Change your oil every 3,000 miles/ 5,000 kilometers or 3 months, whichever comes first. But some car manufacturers have introduced extended oil change intervals. They figure that a modern vehicle driven under the right conditions can go for 5,000 miles/8000 kilometers or more between an oil change.

The key phrase here is “under the right conditions”. If you look at your owner’s manual, you’ll see two different maintenance schedules: one for “normal” driving conditions and one for “Severe Service”. Severe service driving conditions include stop and go, short trips, towing, hauling, hot, cold, and dusty driving. That’s why at AutoNetTV we often refer you to the severe service schedule in your owners’ manual, because, for most of us California car owners, that’s the way we use our vehicles in everyday life.

Recently, four of the largest auto manufacturers in the world have extended engine warranty coverage for engine damage caused by oil sludge resulting from longer oil change intervals. They found that real-world conditions require more frequent oil changes than the 7,500mi/12,000 km interval they were recommending. They subsequently recommended more frequent oil change intervals and proof of timely oil changes in order to qualify for the extended warranty.

Oil sludge is the culprit. Sludge is oil that has turned to a thick, jelly-like consistency. Sludge can block passages in the engine, preventing oil from lubricating vital engine parts. Parts wear more quickly and may fail prematurely.

Sludge is caused by several factors. The first one is simply – time. The engine oil is contaminated by exhaust gas that eventually leads to sludge. That is where the recommendation to change your oil at least every three months comes from. Sludge can also come from oil that gets contaminated by water from normal condensation. A few minutes of driving at California freeway speeds allows the oil to heat up enough for the water to evaporate. The problem is we often run errands or take other short trips that don’t allow the engine to warm up enough for the water to evaporate. This is especially true in winter. Sludge also forms when the engine gets too hot, causing the oil to breakdown. Stop and go summer driving, towing and hauling are all prime conditions for creating harmful sludge. And every engine has hot spots that create sludge.

Given all of these factors, estimating when to change your oil is pretty complicated. A couple of manufacturers have computer programs built into their vehicles that record the number of cold starts, how many times the cylinders fire, engine temperature and other factors. From that, the computer estimates when you should change your oil and flashes a warning. But what if you do not have a vehicle with this feature? How do you know when to change your oil? We’re not sure you really can. Which is why it is better to be safe than sorry. 3,000 mi/5,000 km or three months – whichever comes first – talk with a service advisor at Exclusive Motors in Placentia and see if that’s a good recommendation for the way you drive.

Are Modern Vehicles Maintenance Free?

In our auto video today we’ll be talking with Alan Peterson about myths surrounding automotive maintenance. You can lump these myths into the statement that “modern cars are so reliable, they are virtually maintenance free”.

Any good myth has some elements of truth. No offense to Placentia Bigfoot fans, but this maintenance-free myth has more evidence than most. If we look at some isolated areas of auto maintenance, we could conclude that maintenance isn’t so important. But other areas would just as easily lead you to believe that maintenance is more important than ever.

Here are some examples for our friends in Placentia.

  • Some cars in Placentia no longer require chassis lubrication. They’re made with self-lubricating materials and have sealed joints. There’s literally is no way to grease those joints.

-Chalk one up for the myth.

On the other side, some vehicles come with sophisticated variable valve timing. A lot of complicated parts up in the valve train that didn’t even exist not that many years ago. These parts are very vulnerable to oil sludge.

  • So, skipping an oil change here and there could lead to very expensive damage.

-A point to maintenance.

  • Electronic ignition has eliminated replacing points.

-Myth gets a point.

  • Fuel injectors on direct injection engines are very expensive to replace so one must be sure to get a fuel system cleaning on schedule.

-Point for maintenance.

I think you get the picture. As automotive technology advances, it eliminates or reduces some maintenance requirements. And maintenance becomes more critical for some items. Most others remain very similar to what they’ve always been.

So the maintenance mindset is still important for car owners in Placentia if we want our vehicles to last a long time. The checklist may change over time, but there’ll always be a check list.

Let me mention a couple of items on modern vehicles that folks need to be aware of. One of the most of the most important is timing belt replacement. Used to be that all engines had timing chains – you know, metal chains. They rarely broke.

It’s cheaper to make engines with timing belts rather than chains, so replacing the timing belt is on most engines’ maintenance list. The money the manufacturer saves by using a belt is more than off-set by what the vehicle owner has to pay to replace the belt. And it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of repairing the damage if the timing belt breaks.

So make sure you know when your timing belt needs to be replaced. You don’t want to miss that. If you have 60,000 miles or more, break out your owner’s manual or ask your Placentia service advisor at Exclusive Motors to check on the recommendation right away.

Another is sealed wheel bearing assemblies on some vehicles. As you might have guessed, it’s cheaper to make a sealed unit than one that has access to inspect or service the wheel bearings. The problem is that when the bearings fail, you have to replace the entire unit, not just the bearings. That’ll cost 5 or 6 times as much.

For our friends in Placentia, we hope this has underscored the importance of knowing and following your maintenance schedule. Come in and see us at Exclusive Motors. You’ll find us at 1961 E Miraloma Ave # A in Placentia, California 92870. Just give us a call at (714) 795-3065.

Recommended Service Intervals At Exclusive Motors

Most people in the Yorba Linda area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Anaheim Hills, Anaheim and Villa Park in California.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let’s start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your Mercedes – Lexus. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your Mercedes – Lexus engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn’t flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system’s efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your Mercedes – Lexus. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner’s manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Placentia service advisor at Exclusive Motors by calling (714) 795-3065. You’ll find our shop located at 1961 E Miraloma Ave # A in Placentia, California 92870.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your Mercedes – Lexus. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They’re designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your Mercedes – Lexus owner’s manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can’t tell you that you have a radiator hose that’s bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.