Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 14, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Severe and normal service recommendations for fluids in your car

Niagara Gazette — I often discuss when to change the oil in your vehicle, but this article is about the other fluids that need to be serviced. However, first we need to distinguish between severe and normal service applications.

Severe Service Application

Follow the SEVERE schedule (which is more aggressive) if any one of the following are true for you:

• Most trips are less than 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16 km). This is particularly important when outside temperatures are below freezing

• Most trips include extensive idling (such as frequent driving in stop and go traffic)

• The vehicle is operated in dusty areas frequently

• Trailer towing or using a carrier on top of the vehicle frequently

• The vehicle is used for delivery service, police, taxi or other commercial applications

Normal Service Application

Follow the NORMAL schedule only if none of the conditions from the SEVERE schedule apply.

Carmakers vary on their recommendations for severe or normal service schedules based on applications, so make sure you check your owner’s manual for the recommended fluid/lubricant/filter change interval according to your particular use of the vehicle. Some of the items I cover in this article may not be listed in your service schedule so consider following the service recommendations I suggest in this article.

You drive under normal operating conditions if you:

• Drive the vehicle at least 20 miles a day at highway speeds

• Operate the engine long enough to thoroughly warm it up along with all the other drivetrain/powertrain components

• Seldom haul heavy loads or tow with the vehicle

• Operate the vehicle at highway speeds in a clean environment

Transmission fluid

The transmission fluid performs a few functions. It serves as a medium by which the hydraulic pressure, necessary to operate the transmission is created. It absorbs heat within the unit and carries it away to the transmission oil cooler insuring that the trans does not overheat. It lubricates the moving parts inside the trans. Finally; it keeps dirt in suspension until the trans filter filters it out. The trans fluid is oil and therefore subject to viscosity breakdown and loss of protective, lubricating & cooling properties. Leaving the transmission to operate on fluid that is worn out will result in premature transmission wear and failure.

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