Overprotective parent

I am the proud father of a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid that I bought new out of college. I have had less expensive new cars in the past, but I vowed to not have another car payment for as many years as possible. To that end, I do all maintenance and repairs either by myself, or at my very trusted mechanic. My Highlander has 96,000 miles on it currently and runs beautifully. The problem is not my car, but my fiance’s.

She just purchased a 2009 Mazda 3, and even though I want to maintain her car as well as mine, she could care less what I do with it. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I have the energy of using the same maintenance schedule (changing synthetic oil every 5,000, removing fuel injectors for ionized cleaning, replacing plugs early, compression testing, etc.). Part of me just wants to throw in Mobil 1 extended performance or amsoil and forget about it. But it’s completely against what I’ve religiously been doing for my car. What are your thoughts?

No energy is needed on your part; just offer to take her car to a trusted shop for the normal required maintenance as outlined in the manual. This is a wonderful opportunity to test how you two will get along later in life! One person in the family will typically care more about these things, and will end up doing the managing.

By the way, to make the Mazda 3 last, many of the things you do are unnecessary!!
My son has a 2004 Mazda 3 manual shift, and changes oil (synthetic) and filter regularly, keeps the car clean, he will change the coolant when the time comes, and has so far only had the brakes done. The current mileage is 65,000 miles of flawless performance. The platinum plugs are good for 100,000 miles or so, but we replaced them on my wife’s Nissan at 60,000. Your fiance is a long way from that event.

Today’s gasoline has all the detergent you need; only very old and neglected cars need injector cleaning! My wife’s 15 year old Nissan has never had its injectors cleaned and runs great. At 125,000 miles it is on its 3rd set of plugs, since the original ones were not platinum, and were changed out at 30,000 miles.

The few things this forum advocates that differ from the owner’s manual are transmission fluid and filter changes at 40,000 miles, and changing the coolant in the engine every 4 years or 60,000 miles or so.

In summary, I think you may tend to overdo things, and your fiance may not be aware that reliability and long life depend on following at least what is in the owner’s manual, the World’s Least Read Best Seller!! Suggest you two read the Mazda manual together, and let the manufacturer be the neutral judge as to what to do.

I think you ought to just follow the recommended service in the owner’s manual. Changing synthetic oil every 5K and pulling fuel injectors for cleaning is just wasting money in my opinion. Why are you doing compression tests? I mean, seriously?

If you want to do all that stuff to your car, it’s fine, but you really seem to have gone a bit overboard. Regular oil changes, and with a 5K mile interval you don’t need synthetic, and changing other fluids every 2 or 3 years and spark plugs at 30K should be fine for most any car.

Oil changes are one thing…but ionize cleaning of the fuel injectors??? I’ve owned fuel injector cars now for over 20 years with well over 300k miles on a few of them…all with original injectors in them…and not never ever had a problem…and NEVER EVER needed to have the injectors cleaned…

I replace the plugs on my truck once a year…and my wifes car every other year (she puts about half the mileage I do in a year). I do a compression test about every other year…just to see how things are.

The BEST things you can possibly do is change the fluids and filters. Those are probably the MOST important PM items. Second would be keeping up with repairs…If your shocks get worn…replace as soon as you can…the longer you drive on faulty shocks the more likely other suspension parts will start wearing out quicker.

You’re going to have an interesting marriage. How do the two of you see things like cleaning the house, making the bed, mowing the lawn or washing the car?

Ionized cleaning of fuel injectors. That’s a new one. I’ve never heard of it. Can you explain what it is and who does it?

You change synthetic at 5K miles? Wow, you are picky! I change regular oil at 5K miles and my owner’s manual tells me I’m overdoing it.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Never love something that can’t love you back. Your Highlander is a machine. Metal, plastic, rubber, and silicon. That’s all. It has no heart, no soul. It doesn’t care about you at all.

  2. You can do all of this religious maintenance, you can cut the maintenance intervals in half if you want to, and one day you can be driving along minding your own business and some idiot on a cell phone can T-bone your Highlander and reduce it to junk.

  3. You’re young. Your priorities will change with time. Are you planning to have children? When your first child comes along you may find your fervor for auto maintenance significantly reduced. And even if it isn’t you won’t have time to do the things you’re doing now.

  4. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks (except your wife). Be overprotective if you want. You’re not hurting anything. Some day you’ll look back and laugh about it. Or you’ll turn into a crazy old coot who spends way too much time on his car. Either way it’s OK.

Once married you will in effect co-own both cars. Therefore maintaining them both will help you reach your goal of no car payments. Perhaps you can go through the owner’s manual of the Mazda and make sure you follow the guidelines in the manual. Removal of the fuel injectors and such might be overkill for the Mazda.

Changing the fluids on or before schedule is the best way to keep any car going as long as possible.

Can you spell OVERKILL ?

The owner’s manual is all you need to follow.

Take a pill, settle down, her car’s not going to fall out from under her.

The only thing that really matters is changing oil in a timely fashion and topping checking fluids.

Don’t worry about the rest. You may be surprised how little maintenance cars can take, I learned lots from my wife’s barely maintained 96 civic (only 5k oil changes at quick lubes and air filter herself, dad performed major maintenance only 100k miles). She sold at 180k running perfectly for $3000.

My 95 Civic run 225k was maintained per book ($300 every 30k at dealer) and 3-4k oil changes at good independent tire garage who did rotations too. I spent lots of money. Guess what it also ran perfectly but spent way more money than she did.

Not worth it to worry much. Just check the fluids for her and change the oil if she lets you.

Someone said “Happy wife = happy life”. I listen to that mostly and have had 5 pleasurable years with my wife.

An addendum to (partially) explain my craziness. I own an outfitting/expedition company, and regularly take trips across the country covering almost every state in every single condition. The past two days alone, I’ve put 1,600 miles on the car, and it’ll be another 1,500 before this Friday. Fanaticism? I take the day off work on my car’s anniversary, we stop at rest stops and have real discussions at major mile intervals, I’ve broken up relationships over my vehicles and I’ve almost cried when people are reunited with their rebuilt small block engines. Yes I am aware I overdo it. But hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Thanks for the advice that goes so much deeper than my car OCD. To examine your questions a bit further, I deal with everything mechanical and in that matter, take way too much time doing it. I guess it works because she makes the (greater) mess, and I clean up behind her. Thanks for your heartfelt advice, because it runs so much deeper than the automotive realm.

You remove your fuel injectors, and they hand clean them, and ultrasonic clean them to insure that there is proper flow in each injector.

Wildlifer; I trained in the army as a mechanic and heavy vehicle operator. They have a rigorous checking and maintenance schedule, but checking and changing fluids is the key to long, trouble-free life.

Years ago when the kids were small we took a 7000 miles, 3 week camping holiday trip across the US and Canada, including the Rocky Mountains. We had a 10 year old Buick station wagon with 90,000 miles on it pulling our camper, and other than a burned out spark plug wire (impossible to predict) we had no problems whatsoever.

I have worked in the Middle East and the North Slope of Alaska, and in all cases good normal maintenance and frequent checks was all that was needed. We did replace all belt and hoses every 2 years in the Middle East.

Some years ago a hardware salesman from Minnesota was interviewed when his car reached 458,000 miles with all the original parts, except some tune up, brake and suspension items. He changed oil and filter regularly, had the car greased and generally just followed the owner’s manual. Like you, he drove for a living and needed his car working in all sorts of weather.

Your type of driving is extremely easy on a car, since the engine stays warm all the time, you don’t race, etc.

I make most of my living as a reliability engineering consultant, and doing what is NECESSARY to maximize reliability and long life is different from what you are doing. Toyota is the most fanatic about long life and their owner’s manuals are quite good in maintenance procedures. This group adds a few extra procedures.

If American Airlines maintained their jets the way you do your car, the planes would spend most of their time sitting on the ground, not earning money. Airlines use RCM, Reliability Centered Maintenance, which identifies what is necessary to keep those planes flying with minimum of downtime.

You would do well to read about long life cars and what their owners do to get to the million mile point without major repairs. I have a whole binder full of these stories.

It’s NOT needed…

You only need do what’s listed in the owner’s manual. You’re going way beyond, doing things that are simply not needed.

Truthfully, have you been removing and cleaning the injectors and doing routine compression testing (and whatever else excessive youre doing) because you believe it necessary or just because you enjoy fiddling with the engine? If you;re doing it because you enjoy fiddling, perhaps married life will fill that void in your life that fiddling previously did. The problem may diaappear all by itself.

It’s OK. Enjoy your hobby. Maybe your fiance’s car can be part of your hobby, too.

I used to be overly obsessive with taking care of my cars till my wife and I got married and we had kids. Then all of a sudden my priorities changed. That was 26 years ago and I’m glad they did change.

I can just add to the others. You are over doing it. Read the owner’s manual and it will give you a list of maintenance items and when they should be done. Doing less can risk damage to the car. Doing more is usually a waste of time and money. In some cases it can be detrimental to your car.

Someone is ripping you off with than injection cleaning and maybe more.

I’m married to someone like your fiance . . . my wife actually believes that a vehicle is for transportation and that’s all. Imagine that. Advice? Do your best, fill it with gas whenever you get in it, drive it once a week or so to check it’s operation, check stuff as you can, like tire pressure and the like, and try to make sure it’s safe. For Mother’s Day I bought her flowers, candy and perfume . . . and detailed her car. She was most impressed with the car of all the gifts. Within a week . . guess what? People are different, look around. Rocketman

My thoughts? Are you sure? OK. Her car. Her folly. Her consequences.

Others have handled the"excess" very well,what I would like to know is what your mechanic did to become “trusted”? We get a lot of posts from people who say they have a trusted mechanic but they are still writing to us. Do you run these questions by your mechanic?