Cheap Insurance – Regularly check all of the fluids in your vehicle and replace them when they need it!
There is a good chance the newer used car you are looking at buying or selling still has a lot of the original fluids. Service recommendations for a lot of newer vehicles have been created to appeal to people who believe technology has advanced to the point fluids should last for the life time of the vehicle, and engine oil change intervals have stretched further and further. Modern vehicles are engineering marvels, but they have tight tolerances and are highly sensitive to neglect, heat and deteriorated fluids.
Anyone who has ever seen the color and condition of new fluids and compared them to fluids that have for an extended time been in a vehicle’s engine, power steering system, brake system, cooling system, automatic transmission, manual transmission, transfer case and front or rear differentials understands all fluids, including synthetic and extended life fluids, deteriorate over time and lose their ability to protect the system they are designed to protect.
It is obvious the service recommendations for many of today’s vehicles are written to appeal to people who buy into the idea we live in a throw-away society. I have seen automatic transmission fluid be pitch black and smell burnt after just 50,000 miles of driving. I have seen coolant PH levels be so acidic the coolant was eating away internal parts of the cooling system and generating brown sludge which was plugging critical cooling system passages. I have seen brake fluid, which is a hygroscopic fluid, absorb up to 8% water, and this resulted in serious brake fade and corroded internal brake system components. I have seen differential and transfer case fluids black and filled with sparkling silver because they were left in the gear boxes they were intended to protect for too long without being replaced. I have seen power steering fluids that are pitch black and filled with sparkling metal particles because the fluid had never been replaced and due to friction, time, component wear, heat and other normal factors lost their ability to lubricate and protect the power steering pump and steering gear.
Additionally, the notion many new performance vehicles are equipped with ‘lifetime’ fluids and never need to be replaced is shocking to me. I guess it depends on what the definition is of the expected lifetime of the component. I truly believe the expected lifetime of the component may very well be half or less of the life of the same component that receives regular servicing. Pull the plug on any transmission or differential after just a few thousand miles and take a close look at the fluid in the pan with a light. You will likely see lots of bright shimmering particles. These particles certainly do not add to the life of the bearings.
My advice to you is to have all of the fluids in your vehicle regularly inspected to see if they are at the proper level and in good condition. I suggest using factory recommended fluids when replacing fluids. This is a small price to pay to extend the life of expensive components in all of your vehicle’s systems containing fluids. It is up to you to protect your investment because the alternative is just too expensive. Own your car as if you will own if for a long time. Then when it comes time to sell your car, you will have peace of mind you are selling something that has been taken care of.