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Why does my car need a service and when?

All cars are built from many different components. Each of them has a certain lifetime, which can be prolonged by maintaining them regularly. Most of those maintenance items are included in service schedules, probably as many items as listed in those schedules need certain maintenance procedures. Whether those procedures will be followed depends on the technician's experience and his education on your model. The vehicle's performance depends on the efficiency with which the engine uses the fuel you buy for good money.

On early model cars those parts can easily be adjusted and checked during each service or tune up, simply with a timing light (a tool as common as a screw driver at any mechanic's workshop) and an exhaust emission test computer (probably only every 10th workshop in Australia has one ). Without those tools it is not possible to do a proper tune up. Make sure the workshop you use has got them. Those adjustments are essential for your car

Don't believe any explanations and excuses why someone doesn't need those tools (and you will come across a lot of them as these tools are very costly, starting from $4000 plus yearly adjusting).

But honestly - no workshop would have them if it were not necessary. Serious workshops have them!

On late model cars the ignition system and exhaust emissions are controlled by a computer (ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS). Those systems are mostly not adjustable; everything is controlled by the EMS. So you (and also a lot of mechanics) would think there is nothing more to do to the engine than the odd oil change - WRONG! That's only where it starts: those systems rely on a lot of sensors, which deliver information about the condition of the engine and what you want to do to the ECU (Electronic Control Unit). Those sensors deliver information in form of electrical values. If one sensor doesn't work properly the ECU uses a middle value and memorises a fault code. Those fault codes need to be read, evaluated and the faults repaired, if necessary, otherwise your engine uses too much fuel, has no power, doesn't start properly or even gets damaged without you knowing it until it is too late. To carry out these tasks workshops need even more expensive TEST COMPUTERS (starting from $6000 and further $1700 per year for the relevant technical information). Without those tools and an experienced engineer you pay for a service that hasn't been done properly. All vehicles from 1988 onwards require those tests - without exception!

The following warning lights on your dash are indications of fault codes in your ECU:
Engine check
ABS
AIRBAG
ESR
And lot's of others just in the form of signs or emblems

If you have any questions about your car, don't hesitate to give me a call and ask - it's free.

Bottom line is that there are no lights (red, amber) supposed to be on while you drive your car - no matter what any mechanic tells you! All those lights are important and have a purpose, otherwise they wouldn't be there! It is, after all, a car and not a decorated Christmas tree.

 

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Last changed: 20 July 2011 10:15am