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Why Today's Better Car Fluids Could Be Trouble

The good news: new fluid technologies and engine designs have combined to reduce the burden of properly maintaining today's vehicles. The bad news: fewer trips to our dealership could put you at risk of missing clues that could head off safety issues or expensive repairs.

John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, notes: "Less maintenance improves the cost of vehicle ownership, but fewer visits to the repair facility means the technician will have fewer opportunities to check your vehicle for signs of wear. It's important for motorists to conduct monthly safety inspections to identify issues before they escalate."

Examples of new fluid service intervals include:

Oil: Cars today are designed to travel at least 5,000 miles between oil changes, and many newer models can be driven up to 7,500 miles or more before an oil change is necessary. Some vehicles that use full-synthetic engine oils have service intervals approaching 15,000 miles. Be sure to check your oil level, either under the hood or through the vehicle's onboard computer system.

Coolant: Requirements for flushing the coolant can vary from every two years to more than 100,000 miles, depending on the coolant type used. However, be sure coolant levels are correct as leaks in the system could cause major issues.

Brake fluid: Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that brake fluid be replaced periodically to flush moisture and contaminants from the system. Check your vehicle owner's manual for specific recommendations. If not specified, AAA recommends flushing the brake system and replacing with new fluid every two years.

Transmission fluid: Modern automatic transmissions are increasingly being filled with "lifetime" fluids that do not need to be changed until the vehicle has traveled 100,000 miles or more. The owner's manual or maintenance booklet is the definitive source for specific transmission fluid requirements.

A monthly, 10-minute vehicle inspection can highlight issues that need attention. Motorists should check the level of the engine oil, brake fluid, engine coolant, washer fluid and power steering fluid. In addition, a check of the tire pressure and tread depth will help ensure safety on the road.

Have questions about your vehicle or need to schedule a service appointment? Please give us a call at (866) 822-9314.

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