Frequent service required
Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Japanese car maker Toyota is one among many dealers that recommend that all its vehicles be serviced at every 5,000 kilometres. This involves changing lubricants and filters and, based on the frequency of the job, can add up to a significant expenditure, with many motorists opting for a longer service interval.
However, irregular servicing can lead to premature engine wear or damage, reduced fuel efficiency, increased air pollution and can potentially affect the resale value of the vehicle.
Irregular servicing also leads to oil thickening and oxidisation, creating a tar-like substance known as sludge. This sludge cannot be pumped through the engine's system, thus depriving engine components of much-needed lubrication which, if not addressed, will eventually lead to engine seizure.
Ophelia Logan, junior manager at Sheldon's Auto, explained that an individual's vehicle should be serviced every 3,000-5,000 kilometres, depending on the specifications of the manufacturer. She also pointed out that regular servicing prevents the destruction of the engine.
"Three thousand is actually the average. Some vehicles will allow you up to 5,000 kilometres, depending on the type of oil. So if you have synthetic oils, those oils don't change as regularly as the ordinary oil. The oil is the lifeblood of the engine, so it goes through the camshaft and keeps the bearings lubricated and the engine parts moving freely," she said, echoing that irregular servicing will cause the build-up of sludge to the engine.
According to her, this amounts to averages around three to four months for the year for regular driving levels, which could cost up to $15,000 each time. For those who would skip to save, she has a word of caution.
"You have to consider the downside to this. If I don't service the engine and keep the car running properly then an individual will have to do major replacement of engine parts or even purchase a new engine for the motor vehicle. The transmission may even stop working and you may have to replace that, which will cost thousands and thousands of dollars," Logan said.
President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association, Lynvalle Hamilton, is in agreement with Logan that servicing the vehicle should be done every 5,000 kilometres. He points out that this could be done roughly six times for the year; however, the age of the vehicle is also a factor.
"If you do not service the car, you could run into serious problems with your engine. This could cost you much more. You will have vehicles that require service at 3,000 kilometres, but this is like an older vehicle. 5,000 kilometres is the standard." he said, adding that, for used motor vehicles, servicing fees range from $9,000 to $15,000, depending on the dealer.
Kent LaCroix of Stewart's Auto Sales, a new-car dealer distributor, said that among the new-car dealers, the 5,000 kilometres represents a standard.
"The first service is free," he said. He also stated that successive services would not be expensive. The costs would rise if the servicing schedule was not adhered to.