Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the right oil change interval for my car?

We get asked this question a lot and the truth is it depends on a lot of factors.

For several years, vehicle manufacturers have been recommending extended oil changes, rather than the more common 5,000 KM changes. 6,000 to 12,000 KM intervals are now common.

Several times a month vehicles come into the shop with major problems. Rear main seals, valve guide seals and valve covers leaking are very common. Inevitably, when the engine is examined it is clear the oil has not been changed often enough. The seals are now very hard and brittle and the engine has several leaks. More unfortunate, this may only be the beginning.

The longer oil change recommendations are largely based on used oil analysis. The oil is run for an extended interval and then checked for signs of oil breakdown and metal particulates. It is true that the oil is not fully worn out, even at the longer intervals. However this is only a fraction of the story.

The first problem with the test, I have seen conducted, is they are run on vehicles that get a lot of use. Taxi cabs, police fleets and test vehicles. These vehicles often see 50,000 KMs a year and are being run with the engines at full operating temperature. This is ideal conditions for engine oil. The high temperatures quickly boil contaminants that are extracted by the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system.

This is not the case with the average passenger vehicle. Most vehicles operate five to ten KMs at a time. They rarely reach and hold operating temperature for long periods. In such a vehicle these contaminants collect in the oil. This produces sludge, acids and depletes additives designed to keep seals pliable. The effect may be drastically increased repair cost.

Like any piece of metal that is heated and allowed to cool, there will be condensation in an engine. The oil attempts to suspend these contaminants. Since the contaminants are liquid, they pass through the oil filter. When engine oil temperature reaches 100 degrees, the liquids may begin to boil. They turn to vapour and eventually are extracted through the PCV system. This does not occur with five to ten KM trips. Many engines also have small amounts of antifreeze/coolant that leaks past head and intake gaskets. This severely compounds the problem.

Another major difference between test and “real world” conditions is time. These factors take time to damage the engine. Running an engine for one-year and 50,000 KMs may show no problem at all. The same engine run five years and 50,000 KMs may tell a completely different tale. The sad truth is, once the problem is discovered, it may be too late to correct.

It is quite common for us to see vehicles with 200,000 to 300,000 KMs that are still giving excellent service. Largely these are vehicles that have been well maintained. It is also very common to see vehicles with 100,000 KMS that are no longer feasible to repair. Overall lowest cost of driving dictates prevention of problems, rather than repair or replacement.

A third factor to consider, is that vehicle manufacturers are in the business of selling new vehicles. Every vehicle that is kept beyond 150,000 KMs may represent a new vehicle not sold. Don’t learn the sad truth the hard way.

Common misconceptions

  • Myth: Used oil is an environmental concern, going longer between changes keeps oil out of the environment.
  • Truth: Virtually all used oil from service shops is recycled. It is used to produce heating oil and other industrial lubricants and this is a closely regulated process. Oil leaks and oil consumption caused by poor maintenance is a major problem with pollutants.
  • Myth: Modern engines don’t breakdown oil like older engines did.
  • Truth: Basic engine design has changed very little in many years. The operating conditions of the vehicle largely determine the effective life of the oil.
  • Myth: Driving to and from work and the store is normal conditions as defined by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Truth: Driving short five to ten-mile trips and stop and go driving are considered severe service by many manufacturers. This is much harder on an engine than 300-500 KM trips and requires more frequent service.
  • Myth: Using synthetic oil allows a vehicle to be driven much further between oil changes.
  • Truth: Synthetic oil is much tougher than conventional oil. Because of enhanced cleaning properties it actually get dirty faster as well. One reason to use synthetic oil is their ability to clean the engine. Contaminants must be removed once the cleaning is done. A very good clothes detergent may clean clothes very well. This does not mean the same batch of detergent can be used over and again to clean subsequent batches.

To maintian my warranty to I need to have my car serviced at the dealership?

No.  You can have your vehicles maintenance services performed at an independent service shop as long as all the manufactures requirements are met.

We have ALL your vehicles maintenance requirements in our computerized repair and information system, and we always check every vehicles requirements as well as perform an un-biased warranty inspection with every service. We also check for any technical service bulletins and recalls that may apply to your vehicle.

As well, we keep a record of all services and repairs performed by us and will act as your liaison between the new car dealer and yourself to ensure a smooth experience if your car requires any repairs under warranty.

Precision Auto Service is authorized to perform new car warranty maintenance on all makes and models as per section 77 of the Canadian Competition Act.

I have an extended warranty - do I need to return to the dealership I bought it from?

No. We handle extended warranty repairs for many companies including: General Motors, Old Republic, GE Capital, Global and MSP Federal.

We also handle fleet services repairs for: ARI, Corp Rate, PHH and Enterprise.

Just let us know your have the warranty and bring in all your warranty papers and we will handle the rest.

Are synthetic oils better and are they worth the extra money?

Synthetic oils are becoming more common and some cars even require them to maintain the new car warranty. (Corvette and Cadillac engines are built for synthetic oils to name a few.) With the increased protection they provide compared to the $30 to $40 extra they cost per oil change, we believe they are well worth it. As the average drivers are only needing to change their oil two to four times a year, they cost is not too hard to justify.

We stock both Mobil 1 and Castrol Syntec synthetic oils and most of the staff here even use them in their own vehicles.

If you’re driving habits have you driving in any extreme conditions, consider upgrading at your next service.

Why do you need to use genuine fluids for my transmission or cooling system. Aren’t universal fluids just as good for less money?

The fluid requirements of today’s modern engines and transmissions are not what they used to be. This fact combined with the cost of repair of modern cars just doesn’t make it worth the risk to use inferior products in expensive components.

At Precision Auto Service, we won’t take that chance with your investment.

Many repair shops and quick lubes in fact do you a disservice by installing an inferior fluid in your car that can’t meet the demands of your modern engine or transmission and the damage may not show up for several years. This is the risk you take if you have your vehicle serviced by an uneducated service shop.

Also, don’t be fooled by universal fluids with an additive added that claims to bring the fluid up to the vehicle manufacturers spec, it just isn’t possible in most cases.

How often should my tires be rotated?

We recommend rotating your tires every 10 to 15,000 KMs or every other Oil Change Service. This will give you maximum life from your tires without inconveniencing you to come in for additional visits. This is also an ideal time to inspect the brakes (while the tires are off) so it just makes sense to do so at the same time. By doing these two services every other service, you prolong tire life while keeping ahead of any un-expected brake repairs.

I have a busy schedual and quick lubes are just as good for a simple oil change aren’t they?

There is a big difference between a professional repair shop and a quick lube, in fact changing the oil is only a small part of this essential maintenance service and you would be amazed how often we see BIG mistakes made by inexperienced quick lube employees on this “simple service”.

All our services are performed by licensed automotive service technicians, this means they have fulfilled a government run apprenticeship program and have at least four years full time experience servicing vehicles. Our technicians inspect every vehicle and a trained eye can spot many a problem waiting to happen and save you thousands of dollars by catching your vehicles needs before they cause any damage or potential harm to your family and your car, let alone the inconvenience of the unexpected breakdown.

All the above for about the same price as the quick lube, and don’t let the marketing fool you, they are seldom finished in the advertised “ten minutes” they promise.

Do those fuel additives really improve fuel economy?

The reality is that modern engines use the fuel they burn so efficiently that an additive can’t possibly make a measurable improvement in your fuel economy. If you were to look at the tailpipe emissions of a modern car you would find almost zero leftover fuel coming out, if nearly 100% of the fuel is burned up, how could an additive improve that? The US FTC has tested well over 100 advertised fuel savings devices and has not found any devices that significantly improve fuel economy: https://ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut10.shtm

Save your money and just maintain your car properly, that will pay off in long run.

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