Every week I get a lot of suggestions for stuff someone
thinks I should write about and many of them relate to driving
abilities, techniques and driving habits.
A couple I received recently go something like this: "You
should write a column explaining the difference between MERGE
and SURRENDER." Also, " you should write about proper use of
lanes on freeways and point out that the fast lane is not a
place for people to slow down in an attempt to keep other drivers
from speeding." And I could go on and on but I learned a long
time ago that because so many people have formulated their own
OPINIONS about traffic laws, without any regard for the actual
laws, that it was best for me to just stay out of it. However
a few suggestions I have received do warrant some comments and
these suggestions were pertaining to vehicle maintenance.
One of the main questions seems to be about how often to change
the oil and filter in a vehicle and what type of oil to use.
This is a very good topic because there is a lot of confusion
in this area. But first I MUST note a DISCLAIMER. I don't want
to get hundreds of e-mails from people who disagree with what
I am about to say because I use factual information not rumors
based on hearsay and things like; "My Dad always used--------
and his car ran for ten years with no problem." And now a statement:
Buying oil and filters is a lot like buying Insurance. Some
Policies are not worth the paper they are written on and others
offer very good protection. It is up to the buyer to research
the product BEFORE they buy it because there are no laws against
selling ANYTHING that a consumer can be talked into buying.
First, I would like to deal with the question about SERVICE
SCHEDULES and how often a person SHOULD change oil. Take out
your owner's manual and check the service schedule located in
it and you will usually find TWO different charts. One is titled,
"Normal Driving Conditions" and the other is titled, "Extreme
driving conditions", but there is no explanation for what is
what. Well for a lot of you, it may come as a shock but nearly
ALL of Canada and MOST of the central and mid-western states
are in areas that are classed as EXTREME DRIVING CONDITIONS.
I will not get into the reasons for this classification here
but just think about it a bit. I you live in any of the areas
that are considered EXTREME DRIVING CONDITIONS, you should follow
the service schedule for that classification. Also continued
short trip driving, where a vehicle never REALLY gets up to
proper operating temperature, is considered extreme conditions
too. One manufacturer has already come up with a On-board computer
system that monitors HOW a vehicle is driven, operating temperatures
etc and is capable of determining when a vehicle SHOULD be serviced,
and turns on a MAINTENANCE DUE light. I think everybody knows
that hi-way driving is not as hard on a vehicle as city driving.
But this is another area that needs to be explained. Just because
you drive on a freeway, to and from work everyday, does not
mean you are hi-way driving. After all, you are pulling off
the freeway at each end and driving in regular stop and go traffic.
Hi-way driving is ONLY considered as trips of 50 miles or more
at a time.
So take a little time to decide what service schedule you
should be following (If you REALLY want to maintain your vehicle
properly.) and next week I will get into lubricating materials.