A ‘shipshape’ automobile was discussed last week. In addition to having a ‘trim and tidy’ interior, it is a regularly serviced and maintained vehicle. There’s more to car upkeep than ‘gas and go’ although each new year brings to market seemingly ever more reliable, almost maintenance-free technology.
We are so accustomed to the miraculousness of the modern automobile that we take for granted the incredible complexity housed within its sleek metallic form. The vehicle has an engine, power train, steering and suspension system, brakes, tires, electrical system, exhaust, cooling system and more—together adding up to thousands of parts manufactured from hundreds of different materials.
It’s a wonder there aren’t more recalls. It’s a wonder that as the pace of technological improvement has increased, anecdotes about owning a ‘lemon’ have become ever fewer. One is tempted to wonder whether the ‘lemon laws’ of the 80’s have already become legal relics.
There are, however, at least four reasons for regularly servicing and maintaining your vehicle: safety, minimizing its environmental impact, to maintain the warranty and, in the long term to maintain its value. The safety systems of your vehicle depend on a complex interplay of many features that all need to be in optimal condition.
Think you don’t mirror check enough? Ever tried driving with a broken side mirror? The silver lining is learning how reliant you really are on even this piece of comparatively ‘low-tech’ equipment. Stalled or broken down vehicles and their drivers and passengers are extremely vulnerable and there are countless examples of a tragic chain of events unfolding from this seemingly only minor, annoying inconvenience. Regular vehicle servicing helps minimize the possibility of mechanical breakdown and the potentially lethal consequences that can follow.
Automobile combustion engines powered by gasoline and diesel fuels emit hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other ‘goodies’ that pollute the air and contribute to atmospheric warming. Decades of ongoing invention to reduce, contain and recycle these emissions have produced and continue to produce less emitting, more fuel efficient vehicles. These inventions variously are made up of valves, filters, hoses, belts, switches, and computer chips — lots of bits and parts that to achieve the desired result need to be maintained in optimal condition.
Car manufacturers define clearly the appropriate servicing intervals, especially during the warranty term. Failure to follow these recommendations can breach the warranty and, in the longer term, devalue your vehicle. Think of the cost of servicing as an investment towards a higher return on reselling, bearing in mind that the ever-improving robustness of the modern vehicle has contributed to an all-time high sales volume in the used car market in 2010.
Of the 4.44 million vehicles sold in Canada in 2010, 2.89 million were pre-owned: almost two-thirds of total sales, up from 56 per cent a decade ago. According to R.L. Polk Data, “54.2 per cent of all cars manufactured in the last 25 years are zooming around our roads today.” This durability, while desirable in many respects, nevertheless counters adoption of even cleaner and more fuel-efficient new models.