Ever since the advent of the motor vehicle, or for that matter the advent of any mechanical device, routine maintenance has been never far from peoples minds whether they be the manufacturer or the end user. A mechanism once set in use will start to wear and should that wear get to a certain level a breakdown is almost inevitable, this event can have repercussions ranging from the inconvenient to the catastrophic. Take for example the failure to clear the filters on a tumble dryer, a clogged filter will slow the airflow through the machine and impair its performance and fraying the owners nerves when an item of clothing is needed at short notice. At the other end of this spectrum imagine a linkage operating on the control surfaces of a commercial airliner, poor maintenance has led to the joints on the linkage seizing in use resulting in loss of control and at 30,000ft and 400mph it takes little imagination to foresee the consequences.
In relation to the motor vehicle the above situations repeat themselves almost exactly, a clogged air filter will not stop the vehicle from being used but it will certainly reduce its efficiency adding to its running costs; the catastrophic scenario can involve a brake, steering or suspension component and without regular servicing when a thorough inspection should be carried out, can be missed until the component fails leading to loss of control, and at 70mph dire consequences abound.
Although component manufactures engineer their products to have a long service life no one can predict the circumstances to which those products can be subjected to; a suspension joint on one car can have half the effective life compared with another and that is not purely down to the miles covered. The four wheel drive vehicle pulling a heavy laden trailer around will be subjected to a higher wear rate than the same model used for the ½ mile school run twice a day and their service requirements are as different as chalk and cheese.
The commercially used vehicle may well spend a lot of its time with the engine at its normal temperature when the degradation of the oil is at its lowest, on the other hand the loads placed on steering suspension, brakes etc can be quite high because of its daily work load. There is a case therefore for the routine recommended servicing to be punctuated by safety inspections along the lines of an MOT test. This should identify wear in components that if ignored could lead to failure at a most inopportune moment. By following a routine such as this, repair and maintenance can be planned and alternative transport arrangements made in advance, far better than a vehicle being disabled and requiring garage attention like a bolt from the blue.
Maintenance then is a series of procedures calculated to keep the vehicle operating at its optimum, making, as far as possible, any time in the garage minimal. This maintenance does of course have a cost but in the long term will usually have a good payback factor in long service life and higher re-sale value.