Regular Servicing: 10K/15K Surprise

Krado Low
11 Apr 2019
 

There's nothing more satisfying that having a fresh car feeling right after a periodical oil change. Recommended after every six months or every 10,000/15,000km driven (whichever occurs earlier), this basic service includes new engine oil and an oil filter.

For an equal comparison, we’ll be using a Toyota Vios as a baseline for the 10K maintenance quotes. It can be bewildering to how some outlets can offer an oil change from as low as S$60, to an eye-watering $228 or more.

So, why the vast difference?

Oil
Using the correct oil keeps your engine running smoothly. While a good majority of cars on the roads today are aged 10 and below, using the right oil will ensure that the engine will run as efficiently as it can. The price difference between the oils? That depends on the oil’s base stock, with more expensive oils made from esters or Poly-alpha-olefin (PAO) stock. Cheaper oils are usually hydrocracked mineral oils.

Oil Filter
They do look pretty much the same, but the filter medium inside can make a big difference. An original oil filter will most likely be manufactured to strict standards and provide the highest amount of filtration. Cheaper filters may look similar, but the filtration material may not be as good as originals in filtration. There is no way to tell if an oil filter has failed from the outside - unless you are willing to spend extra on used oil analysis.

Air Filter
Your engines needs to breathe, and a good filter should catch the dirt and dust in the air before it enters the engine and seriously harms it. While pricier packages will replace the filter at 10,000km, most filters will reach the limits of their filtration capacity by 45,000km. Why? The mechanics usually blow off the grit from the air filter with a good shot of compressed air - and that’s enough to keep it going.

Drain Plug Gasket
Judging by the number of black puddles in the carpark, the gasket is one of the many parts that people miss during maintenance. Ranging from materials like copper, aluminum, or even nylon and rubber, there are also many types of gaskets like crush gaskets. Theoretically, a gasket can only be used once and some cars will leak oil without a new gasket. Most pricier packages will have this tiny metal ring factored into the cost.

Tyre Rotation/Balancing
Regular rotation will spread the wear evenly across four tyres. Depending on your vehicle setup, there are four different rotation patterns which the workshop mechanic can advise you on. This service is usually excluded from lower-priced servicing packages, while more premium packages can throw in a wheel rebalancing during the rotation to ensure that it still spins as smooth as butter.

Other Fluids
A car doesn’t just run on oil alone. Coolant keeps your engine from overheating, transmission fluid keeps your gears shifting smoothly, power steering fluid makes it easy to turn the steering wheel, brake fluid ensures that you stop. Many mechanics will check these basic fluids for you, but the price of topping them off is not included in the price of a bargain servicing package. The cost of completely replacing them is not included even for premium packages as well.

Battery Testing
Many mechanics will hook up a simple battery checker to see if it is providing enough voltage, and if the car’s electrical system is delivering the voltage needed to keep the battery charged. While this is a satisfactory battery check, it does not indicate the battery’s health. A full battery test option will require the use of a more advanced battery load tester to determine the battery’s true cold cranking amps (CCA) rating.

Air Conditioning System
Many oil changes do not include an air conditioning system condition system check, other than noting that the system is only blowing out hot air. Additional test equipment such as a manifold gauge is needed for a complete system diagnosis. This system sadly is the one of the most under-checked parts of car maintenance.

Brakes
While brake fluids are easily checked from the engine bay, the brake calipers and drums itself are hardly accessible if the wheels are not removed. If a wheel rotation is being offered as part of the maintenance package, the mechanic will be able to visually check the brakes for pad wear and/or for leaks of brake fluid. This does not include a brake system test - it is typically offered as a separate package, like air conditioning.

Suspension And Steering
Almost every mechanic will offer a basic visual inspection of the undercarriage condition as they wait for the engine oil to be fully drained out of the engine, as the car is already hoisted into the air. Other than pointing out potential failures such as torn rubber boots, rust or corrosion, a more expensive package may include a more thorough inspection such as checking the linkages and joints conditions.


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Soo Hui Jin - 1 week ago