It’s a machine!
Certainly, a machine we often take for granted. Nevertheless, it is perhaps one of the most complicated machines we interact with on a daily basis.
It is a truly dynamic ‘organism’ with its own cardio-vascular system, skeletal structure, neuro-muscular movement and feedback capability, and intelligence – albeit, artificial.
Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two vehicles are alike. Even if they were, the fact that every driver is unique to the vehicle and driving conditions can vary as much as they do from place to place and driver to driver, makes it impossible to generalize.
Nevertheless, there are at least a few assumptions we can make. First, just about every organism on the planet consumes at least a minimal amount of energy to exist. Energy implies fuel and regardless of how efficient an organism might be it is unlikely if not impossible that it will be 100% efficient. In other words, there will be ‘exhaust:’ unused or partially consumed ‘fuel,’ as well as other waste materials and contaminants.
We can also assume that use will ultimately result in both stress and wear. That means there is a need for the organism to repair or replenish itself. It also means that something is likely to wear out or break inevitably. This is as much an irrefutable truth for machines as it is for you and me.
Productive Maintenance for your vehicle is nothing more or less than paying attention to that restorative process: the process of repair and/or restoring the machine to as close to like-new condition as possible.
Everything we do – ‘we’ being the automotive service professionals you entrust your vehicles to – should be focused on that single purpose.
If you are concerned that safety is not mentioned above, don’t be. If the vehicle was designed properly and manufactured with enough care – and, if it is in as close to like-new condition as it can be maintained – it will be as safe as it was designed to be which hopefully is safe enough!
From that point forward it is a simple matter of ‘regular checkups’ and caring for the unforeseen and unavoidable ‘illnesses’ that are bound to occur.
The regular checkups, if designed properly, seek to ensure roadworthiness through regularly scheduled and structured inspection of critical systems in much the same way your doctor looks into your eyes, checks your weight, height, glands, temperature and blood pressure (and, more depending upon the nature of your visit).
We drain and refill the oil and replace the filter, look at the level and condition of critical fluids and vehicle systems, check brakes, tires and suspension and then road test the vehicle to ensure ‘little problems’ don’t have the opportunity to grow into ‘big, ugly problems’ as a result of lack of care or awareness.
The next few posts will be focused on specific systems and their respective maintenance requirements. For now, however, I’d like to finish up with this.
Just like you need to exercise and watch your diet to ensure the benefits of a long and productive life, so too will you need to take care of your vehicles if you want to experience the longest service life delivered at the lowest possible service cost.
Perhaps more important, it is the only way people who do what I do can be certain we’ve done everything we can to eliminate if not avoid the possibility of being stuck or stranded and the unplanned and unbudgeted expense that generally accompanies finding yourself stuck somewhere.
Until next time, stay well and take care…