Description: The life-blood of your engine, engine oil consists of various weight mineral or synthetic oils combined with additives for engine protection. Oils may come in single or multi-grades and meet various oil performance standards. Multi-grade oils usually start out as single-grade base oils, such as SAE 10W (Society of Automotive Engineers is a large standard-setting organization for the automotive industry). Then viscosity-index improvers are added to modify viscosity. The end result is an SAE 10W-30 oil capable of flowing like a 10W oil at cold temperatures and a 30W oil at higher temperatures.
Purpose: Engine oil lubricates, cleans, and cools critical parts of the engine. The oil’s additives also help to suspend dirt, where it can be drained at the next oil change.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Periodic oil and filter changes keep your engine clean on the inside. Motor oil can become contaminated by dust, metallic shavings, condensation, and even antifreeze. Additives break down over time and can also act as contaminants. The best advice is to follow the guidelines provided in the vehicle owner’s manual, but every 5,000 kilometers or 3 months is a good rule of thumb for oil and filter changes.
Many car manufacturers today are recommending extended oil drain intervals for some drivers. However, if you regularly make short trips in your car, drive in stop-and-go traffic, idle for extended periods, drive in dusty or dirty air conditions, tow a trailer or live in a cold-weather region, it’s best to stick with a 5,000- kilometre/3-month regimen. Used engine oil is converted for new uses, such as industrial fuel or lubricants.
Description: The typical oil filter consists of a high-strength steel housing containing various types of filtering media. An anti-drainback valve prevents oil from running out of the filter when the engine is off. Today’s oil filters have a convenient spin-on design that makes removal and installation easy.
Purpose: The oil filter sifts out contaminants, allowing the oil to flow through the engine unrestricted. Should the oil filter become restricted or clogged with contaminants, they will flow around the filter. This bypassing is a safety mechanism, but you never want to let oil and filter changes go so long that bypassing takes place.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: For best results, consult your owner’s manual, but consider that your driving probably constitutes a severe maintenance schedule. Usually, this means oil and filter changes every 5,000 kilometers or 3 months.
There are used oil and used oil filter regulations in disposal procedures and pick-up facilities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC. Other used oil and used oil filter programs also exist in the other provinces. Used filters can be crushed, removing the used oil and the steel part of the filter can be recycled. The oil from one used, seemingly innocent filter leaking into a landfill can taint over 225,000 litres of ground water.
Description: Gasoline is a complex mixture of hydrocarbon-based components and additives that are specifically formulated for different climates and conditions. The properties of any given blend of gasoline must deliver good engine performance under a wide range of operating demands.
There are gasoline quality guidelines established and are considered the minimum for a gasoline to be offered on the market. Companies often go beyond the guidelines to provide more unique formulations to meet specific motorist needs. Motorists in some areas of the country may also have access to use “reformulated” gasoline (RFG) to reduce emissions of ozone-forming (smog) and toxic air pollutants. RFG consists of a different blend than regular gasoline to reduce emissions.
Purpose: Quite simply, gasoline provides the heat energy necessary to power the engine in most vehicles. Gasoline also contains various additives that may prevent deposits on fuel injectors and intake valves, guard against corrosion in the fuel system, and prevent icing of fuel lines.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: As a motorist, the most important information you need to know refers to a gasoline’s anti-knock index (AKI) — a numerical representation of a gasoline’s ability to resist engine knock, also known as “pinging.” The AKI number is an average of the Research Octane Number (RON) and the Motor Octane Number (MON). This is the number displayed on the black-and-yellow placard at the gasoline pump.
Power Steering Fluid
Description: Power steering fluid is a specially-formulated oil for use in power steering systems.
Purpose: The fluid lubricates and transmits the pressure needed for power-assisted steering.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Check the power steering fluid level at every oil change. Refer to your car’s owner’s manual for specific recommendations on the type of power steering fluid to use. Fluids need to be compatible with hoses and seals and in some cases the recommended fluid may be automatic transmission fluids such as Type F or DexronTM.
It’s possible to check the power steering fluid level when your car is cold, but it’s usually recommended to check the fluid with the car warmed up. Many cars today use a semi-transparent reservoir for power steering fluid, so look for a fluid level mark on the outside. If the reservoir has no markings, open the reservoir’s cap. There should be a small dipstick attached that provides the level reading.
Description: Automatic transmission fluid is specially formulated oil ™ containing numerous additives to withstand grueling operating conditions. There are several different types of automatic transmission fluids and should be used according to the recommendation in your car’s owner’s manual.
Some examples include:
DEXRON® III/MERCON® – Recommended for all automatic transmissions requiring DEXRON® III, DEXRON® IIE, DEXRON® II, DEXRON® or MERCON ® transmission fluids.
It can also be used where fluids meeting Ford ESP-M2C138CJ or Ford M2C166-H specifications are required.
ATF+3® — Formulated exclusively for Chrysler Corp. automatic transmissions/transaxles where a Chrysler MS-7176, Mopar® or Mopar ATF+3® is specified.
Type F (FLM) is a specially compounded fluid meeting the latest Ford ESW-M2C33F and is compatible with all M2C33 series Ford specifications. In all 1983 and later model Ford automatic transmissions use DEXRON ® III/MERCON ® or MERCON ® V Automatic Transmission Fluids.
Purpose: Automatic transmission fluid serves a multitude of purposes. Among other things, it cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish build-up and protects the transmission on a day-to-day basis.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Owner’s manual recommendations on transmission fluid changes vary considerably and may go as high as 160,000 kilometres or more. For best results, have your car’s transmission fluid and filter changed every two years or 40,000 kilometres. Always use the type of fluid specified by your car’s manufacturer. This information can be found in the owner’s manual or on the end of the transmission dipstick.
The overwhelming majority of transmission failures are heat-related, and automatic transmission fluid breaks down rapidly when subjected to high temperatures. Driving conditions such as trailer towing, quick stops and starts, ascending and descending mountains, and wheel-spinning in slippery conditions are but a few scenarios that can devastate the life of the transmission fluid.
Description: Automatic transmissions/transaxles use a filter on the inlet side of the transmission’s hydraulic pump. Different types of filtering media may be used including a fine mesh screen, paper, or felt for filtering media.
Purpose: A transmission filter prevents harmful contaminants from entering the hydraulic system, where they can increase wear and cause scoring and sticking of hydraulic control valves. Additionally, if a major part fails inside the transmission, the filter may prevent pieces of that part from contributing to a more catastrophic transmission failure. Normally transmission filters trap metal chips from hard parts like gears and bushings and the normal fine material that results from wear of the hydraulic clutch facings and bands.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Your car’s automatic transmission filter and fluid should be changed periodically according to the schedule in your owner’s manual. Although some maintenance schedules may claim that the transmission fluid or filter doesn’t need to be changed for the life of the car, remember that the average driving situation falls into the “severe” maintenance category due to short trips and stop-and-go driving. Some shops offer transmission flushing and filling, which is intended to remove more contaminants than simple draining of the transmission.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Description: Windshield washer fluid, or solvent as it’s sometimes called, usually has a methanol base that gives the fluid its anti-freezing properties. Some fluids use isopropyl alcohol as the anti-freeze agent.
Purpose: Windshield washer fluid is used for on-road, on-demand cleaning of the windshield through the electrically operated washers. Some vehicles also use a washer system for the rear window, and even the headlights.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: It’s wise to keep the windshield washer reservoir full at all times with washer fluid. Running the system out of fluid can damage the windshield washer pump. Stay away from water, as it does not provide anti-freeze properties and does not clean as well as washer fluid. Some vehicles have multiple washer fluid reservoirs for different parts of the vehicle.
Description: The most common formulation of antifreeze is green in color and uses ethylene glycol as a base with anti-corrosion additives mixed in. The ethylene glycol part of the formula provides crucial anti-freezing characteristics and the additives deliver the anti-rust and anti-corrosion capabilities. Beginning with 1995 models, most GM vehicles started coming from the factory filled with an extended-life antifreeze, trademarked as DEX-COOL®.
Purpose: When properly mixed, antifreeze and water provide excellent anti-freeze, anti-boil and anticorrosive properties.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Check your owner’s manual for antifreeze usage specifications. Antifreeze, when mixed at a 50/50 ratio with water, provides excellent anti-freeze, anti-boil, and anti-corrosive properties. In extremely cold environments, the ratio for standard ethylene glycol can go as high as 70% antifreeze, 30% water.
All coolants must be diluted with water at the proper ratios and should not be used full-strength. Full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water. Generally, standard ethylene glycol type antifreeze should be changed every two years or 40,000 kilometers. Even though the coolant freeze protection may test OK with a hydrometer (freeze protection only drops with extreme dilution, not with age), the additives break down over time and the fluid can become acidic and very corrosive to engine cooling system components.
When changing coolant, it also presents an opportune time to replace bad cooling system hoses. Leaking, brittle, spongy, cracked, or rotted hoses should be replaced before new antifreeze is installed. Hose clamp connections should also be checked to ensure that they’re secure and free from leaks.
Axle Lubricant/Gear Oil
Description: Axle lubricant is a specially- formulated oil that is capable of handling high-pressure loads. The lubricant comes in various viscosities to meet different specifications. Axle lube may be formulated from mineral oil or synthetics.
Purpose: Axle lube provides lubrication for the various gears and bearings in the rear axle of rear-wheel-drive cars and trucks. Axle lube is also used in the front axle of four-wheel-drive light trucks.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Have the axle lube level checked with every oil change. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out the recommended interval for axle lube changes. Many manufacturers claim their axles as “lubed for life”, unless the axle has been submerged in water. If you have a pickup or SUV, this may happen quite often, especially if you pull a boat. If this is the case, have the axle lube changed at least once a year. In cold climates, you may want to consider changing the standard axle lube to synthetic. Synthetic lubes flow easier in cold weather, improving lubrication. With a 4×4, this is doubly the case because of the two axles. Always use a lubricant that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s lube specifications.