CAR CARE: Follow your maintenance schedule to longer car life

To keep a car running for several years, follow a regular maintenance schedule, say local experts.

?If you look at people who do regular maintenance, they run cars 100,000 miles past what they used to,? said Harold Schultz, service manager at Irv Schroeder County Motors.

People used to trade in cars every 50,000 miles in the 1970s, he said. Now they often last 200,000 miles.

?Some people are very maintenance conscious and others aren?t,? Schultz said.

Kim Kaufman, service manager at Hillsboro Ford-Mercury, said the best way to keep a car running well and its resale value up is by regularly changing the oil and rotating the tires. He said cars have extended life plugs now, but he still recommends getting tune-ups to check other systems.

?I would just stress following regular maintenance according to the owner?s manual,? Kaufman said.

Joe Vinduska, service manager at Wright?s Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge/ Jeep, agreed that if people follow a maintenance schedule, little additional work should be required, except that which results from regular wear and tear.

Vinduska said because of multi-grade oil and all-season tires, owners don?t have to change much from one season to the next. But he said some things should be checked in the spring, such as wiper blades, belts and hoses and the coolant system.

When a vehicle is brought into Wright?s for an oil change, technicians check the hoses and belts. Vinduska said people should ask to have the belts and hoses checked when the take a car in to be serviced. If they service it themselves, they should check them.

Schultz recommends people change the fuel filter and flush the cooling system.

If a car is front-wheel drive, the tires need to be rotated more often, usually about every 10,000 miles.

Kaufman said another key component to check out in the spring is the air conditioner. On a warm day, a person can turn on the air conditioner and see how it cools. If it cools sufficiently, the system is working fine. If not, it needs to be looked at.

Car owners also need to be alert to changes in the way the car runs. Kaufman said if people hear an unusual noise or feel a vibration, they should have the vehicle checked out.

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