As the effects of the rising fuel price are being felt daily, it’s important to understand why scheduled maintenance is more important than ever. Services carried out with quality parts can pull on the pocket strings, especially if the service needed is more expensive than you originally anticipated but rest assured there is good reason to stick to your maintenance schedule and the effects on your pocket may be more direct than you think.
Ok so let’s get into it. Step by step we will explain why serving your car is so important.
Oil & Oil Filter
Let’s start with the obvious ones. Replacing your cars oil and oil filter regularly will optimize your cars fuel usage. How you ask? Let us explain. As the fresh oil moves through the engine, it will lubricate the metal components in the engine and increase the engines performance as it helps the motor to run more efficiently while doing less work. The harder the engine needs to work, the more fuel your car will end up using. Clean oil and an oil filter that correctly regulates oil pressure will also prevent the internal parts of the engine from wearing down and breaking. It is also important to keep in mind that as your car ages the grade of the oil you use will need to change. When your engine is no longer new and the internal components are no long tightly packed together, a slightly thicker oil with more viscosity will help your engine maintain oil pressure without having to work as hard for it. In VW’s and Audi’s, it is recommended the oil and oil filter be replaced every 15 000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
The air filter is important because it helps regulate oxygen for the combustion process. The air filter is essential for regulating the air to fuel ratio. If the air filter becomes very dirty the ratio is thrown out of balance and your car will start using more fuel to compensate. As the name suggests, the air filter is there to filter out insects, dust, sand or debris from reaching the engine. In VW’s and Audi’s, it is recommended the air filter be replaced every 30 000km or 2 years, unless you drive dusty or dirt roads frequently. If you do, specifically ask for the condition of the air filter to be checked with every service and replace it where necessary.
As the name suggests, the fuel filter is responsible for filtering out impurities in your cars fuel. Filtering out impurities protects other components on your car like the injectors. However, if the fuel filter becomes blocked by the things it is meant to filter out this will mean your car will need to compensate for the essential fuel it needs to run optimally. Often gradual increases in fuel consumption will be the first symptom of a blocked fuel filter and it’s not something you would necessarily notice right off the bat. For this reason, it is wise to carry out a bit of preventative maintenance and have the fuel filter replaced regularly. Each vehicle will have a recommended replacement interval according to its service schedule but at VAG Spec Centre we recommend replacement every 90 000km or 4 years, whichever comes first. It is also important to keep in mind not all filling stations keep the same quality of fuel. A poor quality fuel normally means more work for the fuel filter.
In petrol vehicles each of the engine’s cylinders contains a spark plug that is responsible for igniting the air/ fuel mixture. As the plug ages the gap on the spark plug widens meaning more voltage is required to arch between electrodes. Put simply, the harder the spark plugs need to work to make combustion happen, the more fuel the car will use. Some studies have suggested that worn spark plugs can decrease fuel economy by up to 30%. For this reason, VAG Spec Centre recommends replacing spark plugs every 90 000km or 4 years (whichever comes first) as a form of preventative maintenance.
If the timing on your vehicle is set incorrectly, this will cause the air/ fuel mixture to ignite at the wrong time within the combustion chamber of the engine. The result of this is that the air/ fuel mixture will not be completely burned and will cause a reduction in engine power. The combination of poor combustion and reduced power causes the engine to use more fuel in order to produce enough power to run the car. The result is higher than normal fuel consumption. All belt driven cars have a scheduled replacement time based either on time passed or distance driven, whichever comes first. It is important to make sure the person that replaces your timing belt has the correct timing tools and knows how to set timing on your particular car because if the timing is even half a tooth out, the effects could be significant.
Not All Parts Are Created Equal
We’ve all seen the adverts for ridiculously cheap services. The truth is that a cheap service may not be so cheap in the long run. Fitting inferior quality parts to your car often ends often leads to your car working harder to get the job done and when your car works harder that normally means poor fuel economy. In addition to that poor quality parts can cause secondary damage. Regular maintenance doesn’t need to brake the bank but if the service you’ve been quoted seems too cheap, it might be time to start asking questions.
When choosing a service provider, it is very important to choose a workshop with a good reputation and industry accreditation. Choosing a workshop with RMI accreditation means you will have piece of mind in knowing that the workshop you have selected is fully insured and fully equipped to work on your car. That being said not all industry accredited workshops offer the same guarantee. Be sure to ask what guarantee is offered on work carried out. This is normally a good indication of the quality of the parts being used.
The VAGspec Group currently have five branches countrywide. Find them here:
VAGspec Klerksdorp: Vagspec Klerksdorp – RMi Approved VW & Audi Specialists In Klerksdorp