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Old 08-25-2008, 04:25 PM   #1
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Hi Ho: Having serviced a number of vehicles for many years now I wonder why the "change brake fluid every two years", "change automatic transmission fluid every 30,000 miles", and "change engine coolent every 45,000 miles" is stated for class A Motothomes in the Scheduled Maintenance Guide.

I understand about some of these things with a diesel having driven and maintained diesels over a million miles, but the F53 is a gas engine. I know about brake fluid being hygrscopic and the additives in transmission fluid and engine coolent, but can class A motorhome service really be that much different from using the engine on a truck?

Does anyone have any idea (other than it says so in the book) why these service items are recommended? This is probably like opening a can of worms, but oil changes every 4000 miles or so makes sense, these I don't understand.

Ideas? Dirk
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Old 08-25-2008, 04:25 PM   #2
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Hi Ho: Having serviced a number of vehicles for many years now I wonder why the "change brake fluid every two years", "change automatic transmission fluid every 30,000 miles", and "change engine coolent every 45,000 miles" is stated for class A Motothomes in the Scheduled Maintenance Guide.

I understand about some of these things with a diesel having driven and maintained diesels over a million miles, but the F53 is a gas engine. I know about brake fluid being hygrscopic and the additives in transmission fluid and engine coolent, but can class A motorhome service really be that much different from using the engine on a truck?

Does anyone have any idea (other than it says so in the book) why these service items are recommended? This is probably like opening a can of worms, but oil changes every 4000 miles or so makes sense, these I don't understand.

Ideas? Dirk
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:33 PM   #3
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I agree the intervals seem a bit over-zealous. I suspect both the ATF at 30k and coolant at 45k also specify a time length along the lines of 24 mo (my diesel service schedule does). I suspect the service schedule is designed to cover RVs that are not used much, resulting in condensation contamination etc. And when they ARE used, most gas rigs are used very hard at maximum weight.

I'm curious -- in your experience with diesel maintenance, what were typical service intervals for transmission fluid and coolant changes?
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Old 08-25-2008, 06:23 PM   #4
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Hi Ho Paul: Diesel service is really a pain because changing oil is critical. Keeping water out of the fuel is also important. I didn't pay any more attention to coolent than with gas engines, but designs today require that the additives be maintained. Transmission fluid goes a long time unless it is contaminated (by overheating etc.). If the car (truck) is driven consistently 100,000 miles seems to work.

That should get some response, Dirk
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Old 08-25-2008, 11:32 PM   #5
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Hi Dirk,

I agree, changing anything just for the sake of change is terribly wasteful. There should be a way to test engine, transmission, and coolant to see if it ˜is' or ˜is not' contaminated or ˜has' or ˜has not' reached it's service limit! Then and only then should it be changed.

In light of the price of oil and to reduce consumption, someone could create a very enterprising business testing fluids. Our 1997 Buick has a re-settable indicator for engine oil life that notifies every 6,000 miles. The engine now has over 150,000 miles on it and uses no oil between changes. If that is the case, why do the Lube Joints harp about changing oil every 3,000 miles?

I'd like to see the engine manufacturers install larger pans that hold 8 quarts and go 10,000 miles between oil changes.

Anyone know of a testing service out there? (besides CAT) And how would that affect any warranty?
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Old 08-26-2008, 01:56 AM   #6
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Dirk Ostermiller:
Hi Ho: Having serviced a number of vehicles for many years now I wonder why the "change brake fluid every two years", "change automatic transmission fluid every 30,000 miles", and "change engine coolent every 45,000 miles" is stated for class A Motothomes in the Scheduled Maintenance Guide.

I understand about some of these things with a diesel having driven and maintained diesels over a million miles, but the F53 is a gas engine. I know about brake fluid being hygrscopic and the additives in transmission fluid and engine coolent, but can class A motorhome service really be that much different from using the engine on a truck?

Does anyone have any idea (other than it says so in the book) why these service items are recommended? This is probably like opening a can of worms, but oil changes every 4000 miles or so makes sense, these I don't understand.

Ideas? Dirk </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The severe service schedule for limited use vehicles (motorhomes) is due to the problem of trying to set up a one size fits all service approach for a vehicle that many times will only be driven once or twice a year.

For some snowbirds the only time they drive their motorhomes is during their semi annual migrations to and back home from Florida.

Most pickups, vans and dump trucks will never see that type of use and won't require a service schedule as severe as a motorhome.
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Old 08-26-2008, 03:18 AM   #7
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Anyone know of a testing service out there? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Most manufacturers state DO NOT use oil analysis to extend oil change intervals.

(the other Dirk)
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:29 AM   #8
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IMHO, the reality is that most people wouldn't fully understand what their oil/fluid analysis report was telling them. They are designed for engineers for the most part.

From my own experience, the lube shops tell you to change your oil every 3000 miles for repeat business reasons. From the test reports I have seen, most modern oils are good for about 6500 mile change intervals in gas engines and 6000-10000 miles in diesel engines. Synthetics might survive a bit longer before their molecules break down sufficiently to render them "less than optimum" for lubrication but this is up for debate.

Severe service requires more frequent changes BUT this depends on the "type" of severe service that the vehicle sees. Dusty conditions require regular air cleaner element replacement or the addition of a pre-filter. The oil is in a "sealed" environment so the dirt/dust isn't the main issue here. How often is the vehicle operated at maximum RPM, what are the loads placed on the drivetrain and for how long, is the vehicle always operated at recommended engine/trans temps etc. are all factors in oil life.

Diesels are notoriously harder on engine oil than gas engines due to the sooting that occurs during the combustion process. This is why diesel engine formulated oils have such a high detergent content as does the diesel fuel itself. These are all designed to help "scrub" the engine of contaminants. The oil filters and fuel filters are bigger, have primary and secondary filters etc. all to help "clean" these fluids.

Enough with the basics. We use our coach about 6-8 times a year at the least which equates to about 4000-6000 miles or so depending on the trip locations. I am going to change the engine oil and filter soon since I am leery of the quality of oil that is presently in it. I will then see whether once every 12 or 24 months works best for us and our usage. For us, I feel a 10000 mile change interval is more than adequate.

BTW, I stick with Fleetguard, Baldwin, Wix or Napa Gold filters since the last three are supposedly made by the same company and all have the same quality of inner components. I am hunting for the best price since these larger diesel specific filters are NOT cheap.

One last note. Diesel engines are not the same as some high strung gas engines. They turn at lower RPMs and are designed from tractor engines. They are extremely durable and don't need to be babied. Just routine basic care will keep them running long after the gas coaches have required a rebuild. The MFR's are in CYA mode with their maintenance routines. If the oil smells or looks burnt, check things out, change the oil and filter and adjust your change intervals accordingly. A diesel will soot the oil in a VERY short amount of time making it look worn out before a gas engine oil will but the reality is that is why you have BIG filters. They will remove the contaminants and let the detergents in the oil continue doing their job cleaning your engine while lubricating it.

Don't stress out. Go RV'ing!

BTW, sorry for the LONG post.
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:45 AM   #9
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I'm not a petroleum expert by any means, but I can tell you that common sense and experience go a long way toward mechanical component preservation. Stop and start, short trips, several times a day, WILL create condensation in your engine. And if you don't keep it out by frequent oil changes (yes, 3,000/90 days) you WILL blow a bearing out of the bottom end. (Been there, done that, wrote the t-shirt.)

On the other hand, a motorhome engine is not normally subjected to that kind of abuse. Yes, it gets worked, but usually for an extended period of time. If it's warmed up, running at a rpm in the power range, everything is getting lubricated and cooled, as it was designed to do. The oil is not getting contaminated, in the same way my DW's commuter was, which I ignored for too long. Longest lasting engines are always those that RUN, like the million mile semi tractors, etc., and they don't get changed every 3,000 by a d--- sight.

What happens to our engines too often is not running in the power range. We overload the coach, use the toad for a trailer and overload it, then want to run in 4th, 5th, or 6th, whatever your top is, for "good mileage." Now we're lugging, hammering bearings, plus putting a terrible strain on that top gear.

One last thought: if you overheat your tranny, get that juice out of there as soon as you can. I switched mine to synthetic specifically to avoid that problem.

Sorry if I'm ranting - if someone knowledgeable can chime in with corrections and/or amplifications, that might help a lot of us.
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:00 AM   #10
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We are definitely not snowbirders. An average day's trip is 300-500 miles, and if averaged over a year, is a once a week trip (18K this year). The longest time either of our rigs is parked is for a month . . . maybe.

Our oil change schedule (Vectra / C7) is per the book - 15K or one year. We don't make a year. We keep it topped up, and it uses about a gallon between changes. Likewise on the Allison - 50K, but it is almost to 4 years from date of manufacture, so we'll get it changed this winter. We monitor the silicates in the coolant (no problems so far). With air brakes, the fluid is self-changing.
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Old 08-26-2008, 04:43 PM   #11
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Dirk, Blacktie says it best. The recommended service schedule is just what the manufacturer states, recommended. The brake fluid will get moisture in it and is really not hard to remove and refill. The transmission fluid on the newer f53 has to work hard when in tow/haul mode due to downshifting along with upshifts. Motor oil is the heart blood of an engine and has additives in it today that was unheard of years ago. Oil brakes down and changing it is the cheapest maintenance you can perform, and always change the filter every time you change oil. If an engine has a major internal failure your dealer can send out a sample of the oil for test and find out if it has been neglected. Also why not use the factory filters. Oil filters and fuel filters are another big issue. The reason for manufacturers to give you part numbers for fluids and filters is with reguard to engine protection. Some filters are in different microns which will effect pressures in oil. We can go on and on but the bottom line is follow the recommended service with in reason.
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