Severe Driving?

18 07 2012

People regularly ask us how often they should have a particular service done.  That is a great question, actually.  You can look at your owners manual, or give us the opportunity to look up your vehicle in a service database.  What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule.  Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule.  When asked, most will say their driving is normal and that the ‘regular’ schedule probably applies to them.  ‘Severe service’ sounds pretty extreme – ‘I don’t drive like that’.

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads
  • Drive with a car-top carrier
  • Stop and go driving
  • Driving in very hot or very cold weather

If that’s severe driving, what constitutes regular driving?  Well, it would look something like this: You live in an area with moderate temperatures all year round – let’s go with San Francisco.  And you live close to a expressway on-ramp.  Everywhere you need to go is right off the expressway, at least four miles from your home.  You can drive at a steady 70 miles per hour when your on the expressway.

We’re not sure about you, but that doesn’t sound like our normal driving.  It sounds more like ideal conditions.  We live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  We run short errands around Grand Rapids.  Occasionally we load up for family trips.  Bottom line, there’s a lot of “stop and go” traffic.

For us, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving.  So here’s what we tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go, and what you are expecting to do with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with ‘regular’ on one end and ‘severe’ on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For us, it’s closer to 3,000 miles. For others we know, it’s closer to 5,000 miles.  We’ll be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out, just give us a call (616.774.7048) or drop us a note on our facebook page – we love to hear from people there!

Why are severe service intervals shorter?  One has to do with heat.  That can either be external heat from the weather or engine, and transmission heat from stop and go driving, or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing.  The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren’t as effective.

Another factor is water.  Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool.  In your motor oil, for example, if you don’t drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won’t evaporate.  Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters collect dirt more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions.  You’ve made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.  Your final decision will be specific to how the aforementioned variables.  You will not want to look at this universally, as your specific vehicle and pattern/conditions of driving will dictate what’s best for you and your vehicle long-term.  Let us know how we can help keep your vehicle running at top condition.  We’ll be here when you need us.
 

Source: AutoShop Solutions

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