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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Maintain

A gentleman called me yesterday complaining his late model Honda Accord suddenly lost power on the way to work. It would not, he explained, go over fifty-five miles per hour. I scheduled him in for today. Not having heard of any chronic failures on the later model four cylinder and six cylinder engines or fuel systems in those, I wasn’t all that surprised when he called me to cancel this morning. Mr. Accord said his Honda was running fine now. I asked him if he had fueled up in the last day or so and he said he had. You already know where I’m going with this after some of the recent car woe posts. Mr. Accord has been fueling up regularly at one of the hole in the wall stations with the lowest octane fuel available. His car has 85,000 miles on it and as I explained to him, the vehicle is filing a grievance.

Then the conversation turned to maintenance. I asked him if the Honda had been getting regular maintenance.

“Yes, I had the 60,000 mile major service done at the dealer,” Mr. Accord assured me.

“Good, that part should be fine for quite a few more miles. Do you get regular oil and filter changes?”

“Not the filter, at least not since the 60,000 mile service.”

Oh boy. “Where did you hear that was a good idea?”

“Nowhere.” Mr. Accord chuckled uneasily.

“I would advise having oil and filter changes done religiously every three to five thousand miles from now on. It gives your mechanic a chance to check the other fluid levels - and inspect your tires, lights, drive belts and hoses. It may seem overkill with the way the manufacturers talk about their invincible product, but having regular maintenance may keep you off the side of the road.”

Remember the old commercial where the grizzled mechanic tells the audience ‘see me now… or see me later’ – where he was advising people to have their oil and filter changed before catastrophic engine failure? The cost of replacing an engine on a late model vehicle is so expensive, you can almost buy another running vehicle of the same kind for the same price. In other words, you won’t be seeing me later. You’ll be buying bus tokens or financing another car loan. Just a word of caution when you’re thinking: ‘Wow, the car’s running great. I’ll skip the service for now’ – don’t skip it. :)

26 comments:

Stephen Parrish said...

I scheduled him in for today.

Even though he drove a Japanese car?

BernardL said...

Yep, even Japanese cars. :)

Beth Partin said...

I'd say I hope Mr. Accord learned his lesson, but of course he didn't.

Another part on our Dodge Dakota broke today, sigh. It's the clasp on the compartment between the front seats, so it's not crucial, but I think we're in for another expensive maintenance soon. And we should really get it painted...but then I start dreaming of a new car. One that gets more than 15 miles to the gallon.

BernardL said...

I bet in Colorado it's really important to keep the rust from forming on the vehicle bodies, Beth. The prices are sure way up on paint jobs though. I think Mr. Accord may have gotten the message. I hope it was in time.

Charles Gramlich said...

I do regular oil changes and maintence that way. I just have to with all the commuting I do.

raine said...

I've always tried to keep up regular maintenance (although the rust is winning the battle, I'm afraid).
I wonder, though, if the economy isn't bringing out the miser in all of us. :-/

BernardL said...

You can sure avoid the roadside rest that way, Charles. :)

I bet the rust battle back there is nearly impossible to win, Raine. Auto repair kicks up during hard economic times as a rule. People usually start looking at their commuter car with fearful eyes. :)

Tanya said...

Bernard, you're preaching to the choir! lol

I burned the engine out on my Nissan 240. I never changed the oil, or filter or anything. We had to buy a new engine. My darling husband was not happy AT. ALL.

Now I've since gotten a Volvo and you can best believe I follow the maintenance guide to the letter. I learned my lesson the hard way.

BernardL said...

That is a very rough learning experience, Tanya. :)

Virginia Lady said...

I couldn't imagine not changing the oil AND the filter every 3-5K miles. But then, I've seen an engine with a rod through the pan. Really. All the way through the bottom. Not a pretty sight, and thankfully not anyone I knew, but it's stayed with me all these years and an oil change is a small price to pay to help ensure I'm not leaving my car broken on the side of the highway like the one I saw.

Once again, your customers astound me, Bernard.

Barbara Martin said...

Wise words before it's too late.

BernardL said...

Remember, VL, they are customers because they need help with their vehicles. You're knowledgeable about what you drive, but a lot of people look on what they get around in as a four wheel beast needing fed constantly. Sometimes, they're hesitant to have anyone touch it when it's going good. The old 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' rule. :)

Yep, Barbara, even at my inflated prices, customers can three times a year get their oil and filter changed - along with tires, belts, hoses, fluid levels, lights, brakes and undercarriage checked for under a $170 per year. It's a bargain. :)

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I am suitabley wracked with guilt. Actually, I want the Escort to fail so I can have the excuse to push it over a cliff.

BernardL said...

Cosmic balance being what it is, Sandra, the Escort will conk out on you at the worst possible moment you can imagine. :)

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Good thing it's only a seven minute drive to work, then!

BernardL said...

'Good thing it's only a seven minute drive to work, then!'

It all depends on whether you're in the middle of a blizzard or a rainstorm. :)

Shawn Holzer said...

I have an 07 expedition it starts fine idles fine no check engine lights when I put it into gear and give it gas it hits 1500 rpm and will barely move runs really rough if I put it in park and give it gas it will burp at 1500 rpm go all the way up to 3500 rpm drop to 3000 rpm and that is full pedal is it my TPS even though no check engine light would have continued looking to see if someone had the same problem after reading about a million posts: I figured I would ask and wait for an answer thank you for your time and assistance

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Shawn, my guess is plugged catalytic converters if there are no codes.

Matthew DeLeon said...

I have 2000 Ford f150, when I accelerate I can't seem to pick up much speed. I can also floor it and still can't pick up speed it's as if my truck has lost all power on trying to accelerate what could be my problem

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Sorry, Matthew, but without any information, I can't even guess. You didn't state what engine was in it, or if it has a check engine light or wrench light on. If it does, I would need to know what codes are indicated on the scanner. I need to know if the engine revs but doesn't go anywhere, or if it gives a low moaning sound and no revving, or if there's a miss when you accelerate. My advice on one like that is get it checked out at a professional shop. If you come up with a description and codes, I can give you some ideas.

Anthony Smith said...

Any way to recalibrate the tps? Mine shows 17% at no pedal and 87% at full pedal per my scan tool. 06 expedition 5.4

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

I answered that on the other blog post, Anthony. The answer is still no. It may be a corroded throttle body, or the electronic throttle body on your 06 Expedition is acting up. It is a common problem.

Helena McGee said...

I have a 2008 mountaineer. Tps sensor was replaced by my mechanic but he didn't make sure it worked before leaving. Foot on gas, truck doesn't move forward. I also have a wiring harness issue that the dealership says will cost about 400 just to figure out what wire is not working.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Helena, I'm sorry, but there's no way I can make a diagnostic guess on that little information. If you have a wiring harness issue, that is a hands on repair, not an Internet guess. Why not take it in to a reputable independent mechanic for the diagnostics. Make sure you mention all the things you've done. Another puzzling fact you mention is the disappearing mechanic at the beginning. If he didn't die or leave the country, why not have him look at it again.

Unknown said...

My 2004 Ford Expedition 5.4 liter Triton engine. While driving at operating temperature the truck acts as if it shuts down.Engine will continue to run however no throttle response it acts as if the transmission is slipping or going out but my RPMs and engine never rev up. If i pull off the road and put the truck in park and then into gear it resets.I've searched all over the web and I have not found one person with this issue on their Ford, can you help

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Sorry, Unknown, without codes indicating a trouble area, I would have no way to guess what is wrong with your vehicle.