Keep It On The Road – Major Service
So as not to split hairs and go down two very close but parallel roads I will lump together the full and major services. By and large these two are so closely related that they may as well be the same thing just different people will use different terminologies.
From the previous article dealing with minor servicing there were several items that required checking rather than replacements i.e. spark plugs and air filter. During a major service operation these two items tend to be replaced as a matter of course, this is purely down to the fact that vehicle parts do deteriorate over a period of time irrespective of the miles covered. However, we must not lose sight of the benefits afforded by the latest generation of long life spark plugs which incorporate the use of platinum tipped electrodes and generally have an effective service life of around 50,000 miles. Air filters on the other hand do not have the same advantages, their life is dictated by the air quality passing through the filtering elements and usually the better job they do the shorter their effective life, this is true with both Vauxhall parts as well as less commonly seen makes such as Ferrari.
On the subject of filtration there are two other UNITS which should be changed or with one in particular, inspected and changed if required. The fuel filter can have an enormous effect on the way a vehicle runs and is ignored at your peril, as with any filter device it has a finite life and once past a certain point it simply cannot remove any more impurities from the fuel, leading directly to poor performance and rough running. Not quite so important is the cabin, or pollen filter, this device simply filters incoming air for the vehicle interior. Again, as with the air filter, its effective service life will depend on the quality of air being drawn through it. From past experience I have had vehicles come into the workshop with the owner wringing their hands in desperation convinced that the lack of ventilation will involve the removal of the entire dashboard assembly and its accompanying large labour bill, only to find that the culprit is simply a clogged cabin filter.
Moving away from the solid we now consider the liquid specifically the brake fluid and the engine coolant. After almost 30 years of vehicle engineering I can safely say that the number of requests for a brake fluid change can be counted on two hands and is easily outnumbered many many times over by the requests for coolant/antifreeze change. The main reason for changing the brake fluid every two years is that absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and once the moisture content exceeds a certain level and subjected to temperatures exceeding 100c then that moisture will boil, forming steam â€œpocketsâ€? in the brake system. Now go back to school science lessons and I hope you will recall that liquids are not compressable but gases are, that compression is provided by brake pedal action leaving you the driver with a pedal that goes nearly to the floor without having any braking effect! No matter how long you leave changing the engine coolant it is unlikely to cause you and your passengers any physical harm as in the ancient brake fluid scenario, however , serious damage can occur to your finances due to corrosion within the cooling system (long term) or more catastrophically, a frozen engine (short term) , draining and flushing the cooling system then refilling with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze will help address the above and should be carried out at two year intervals.
As with all maintenance procedures the objective is to address the deterioration which occurs during use and the content of these procedures should be calculated according to that use, hence the regular oil changes, inspection of brake, steering and suspension all the way through to the bi annual changing of brake fluid and engine coolant, remember if you do forget to check and you start having problems all your parts can cheaply and easily be located including Vauxhall suspension struts.