How do Long-life Auto Parts and Fluids Really Stand up in Service?

by | Dec 5, 2011 | Preventative Maintenance

Manufacturers of automobiles have chosen to use many long-life auto parts and fluids to cut back on the maintenance costs of their vehicles. The manufacturers of these ‘long-life’ products make many claims about how long they last.  For example Nissan uses an anti-freeze that the manufacturers say lasts ten years or 120,000 miles.  However, Nissan recommends that car owners change it every four years or 60,000 miles. Why the difference???

Car makers know their vehicles. They know their engines and their cooling systems.  They also know that if they don’t get their recommendation correct and parts of the cooling system fail early, they will be the ones paying for the warranty repairs. For many years GM has used an antifreeze that is promoted to last for five years or 50,000 miles. For some reason most people think of maintenance in terms of miles rather than time and this leads to terrible problems because this antifreeze breaks down and becomes a sludge with time. We have seen cars with only 24,000 miles on them with leaking water pumps and clogged up heaters.

This same “time versus mileage” dynamic also exists with spark plugs. There are claims that spark plugs last for 100,000 miles. In some cases this can be true, but everything depends on the type and conditions of use. We have seen “100,000” mile spark plugs fail way before 100,000 miles.  Conversely, we have also seen spark plugs working quite well beyond the expected lifetime.

Just like it’s important that the auto manufacturers know their vehicles’ performance when it comes to recommending maintenance cycles for long life auto parts, it’s also important that your automotive technician know your vehicle and how you use it. He can then make recommendations based on your usage patterns rather than some set period. That way your car is much more likely to run reliably for many years.


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.