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Information on car maintenance, car batteries, spark plugs and oil – which to use and why.

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Maintenance – Part 2

More extracts by kind permission of Mr. Marty Stratton

information has been on site for sometime now and may, therefore, be
somewhat dated.  I have, however, decided to leave it in situ as I am
sure some points are of a general nature and do still apply and in case it
is helpful to those with older model cars

How long should an average battery last in a car?

Never expect to get as many months as is listed on the battery when you buy it.  
If a battery says it is a 72 month battery odds are you will not get 72 months out of
it.  A good rule of thumb is a good battery should last 5 years maximum.  No
matter what the battery says it is best these are replaced every five years as after this
time they are weak and could fail at any time.

Marty recommends you stick with a named brand of battery such as Interstate, Diehard,
AC Delco, Motorcraft, Exide etc.  Unknown makes could be inferior in design and
construction any may not last even 12 months.

What sort of Spark Plugs should I buy when replacing them

If your car is a GM, Ford or Chrysler and is a 90 or newer model you should consider
buying platinum plugs only.  These work better, last longer and give you better

If you have a 95 or newer vehicle and it has obd II system on board, then you need to
buy special double padded plus for your car.

German vehicles work better with regular Bosch plugs.
Asian cars work better with NGK or Nippendenso plugs and Saturn use NGK

What is the proper type of oil to use in my car?

Marty believes (and has proved with personal tests)
that synthetic oil is the best all around oil for cars.

He recommends Castrol Syntec 5w50 oil for most cars.
  This oil gives you the cold oil pressure you need and when the car warms up, it
gives the protection of the 50 weight oil.  No carbon based oil can do this.  
Synthetic oil saves gas (petrol), gives quicker starts, helps save weaker engines for a

The main thing to remember is to change oil every 3
months or 3,000 miles, no matter what.  Use the correct oil weight for your car.
  This is usually in the owners manual and on the fill cover.  If your car calls
for 5w30, then use 5w30 in the cold winter time or you will have problems with your car.
  The old timers that tell you to us 10w40 all year long are outdated and have been
proven wrong many times.  If your car calls for 5w30 and you have tight valve
clearances on your engine and you use 10w40 your car will not start in the winter time
when it is cold because the valves will be held open too far from lifters being pushed too
far by heavier, slower moving oil.

How often should you rotate tyres (tires) and how
do you know when they are at the right pressure if you don’t have a tire gauge?”

In Finland, where we have to use different tyres in winter and in summer, rotation is
no problem — every time you change tyres, rotate them. This guarantees even wear

In an area where tyres do not need to be regularly changed, a visual inspection of wear
could be the first thing to do. Car accessory dealers sell groove gauges to measure groove
depth, another good indication when rotation becomes necessary. Otherwise, I would suggest
an interval of once a year.

Driving habits have a significant effect on tyre wear and thus on rotation frequency, but
let’s not get into that here.

Many modern tyres have a specific direction of rotation marked on the sidewall with an
arrow. Never set your tyres to roll backwards as this may be a safety hazard. In practice
this means that you can only rotate such tyres by changing them from rear to front and
vice versa on one side of the car.

Thanks again to Kimmo Linkama of Finland.

Janet Drone gives the following advice:-

How often you
should rotate tires depends on the quality of the tire.  For example: 
Goodyear rotate every 10,000 miles, other tires of less quality, every
5/6,000 depending on the wear.

The maximum pressure for the tire is written in small type around the side of the tire,
next to the metal wheel rim.  It is the PSI (pounds per square inch) number and will
read like this “(44 PSI) max pressure”.  Max pressure means the most air to
be put into this tire NEVER exceed this amount.  This maximum pressure is used when
you are carrying a heavy load, however, this is not the daily standard amount of
pressure.  The daily usage, standard amount for the tire 65/175 R14 is between 32 –
34 pounds of air.  For these size of tires and the 15’s, this standard pressure is

(Your vehicle hand book gives the pressures required for your
particular vehicle – sometimes the front tires are different to the back.)

To get correct PSI readings always check the air pressure before you drive your vehicle
while the tire is cold.  Why? because of heat and expansion.  Heat/Expansion
will increase the gauge reading by 3 – 5 pounds.

To give you more information regarding tires, the size is in large type around the side
of the tire.  It will read like this 65/175 R14.   This tire is considered a
size 14.  When shopping for tyres always use the following example XX/XXX X XX.

With regard to knowing when tires need air – Janet suggests learning what your tires
look like when they are at the correct pressure e.g. how much the tire bulges, how deep is
the rubber from road to rim etc. with experience it soon becomes obvious when they are low
on air.  It is also advisable to get into the habit of checking your tires weekly or
every time you fill up, this way they will always be safe.

Maintenance, parts to use and their functions

How to clean and protect car bodywork




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