When I was a young man, I looked forward to change and new things. Change was exciting in every respect. In college, I used to get giddy on the first few days of class in anticipation of the possibility of some beautiful girls being fellow students.

I also envisioned becoming someone who would buy a new car every three or four years, enjoying the latest and greatest of Detroit’s offerings.

Even something as mundane as updating my clothes or work boots brought a level of fervor. When you are young, the world is a stimulating place with new experiences and joys to be found around every corner. But that was yesterday.

Today I look at things a little differently.

From experience, I have recognized that life, in many ways, provides delight in small doses, surrounded by sorrowful moments. It is like Whitman’s Sampler of joy – enough to give you a taste of it but leave you longing for more. Thus, I shun most changes since they are forced on me when I am happy or at least satisfied with the status quo.

The passing of a loved one, the “new” standard, the government spending money it does not have, the growth of suburbia into my beloved farmland, and the continual attack on the ideals our country was built on, such as God, duty, and honor.

If anything, I am now the antithesis of change.

When my cherished Goodyear Assurance Comfortreads wore out on my Ford, I even got sentimental. They were no longer made in the size I needed. Nevertheless, they were the best tires I ever owned.

Though everyone reading this may not share my sentimentality for the past and things owned, I have seen a decided trend with machinery. It is an aversion to changing the working fluids. This holds true not only with road vehicles but farm equipment too. The one thing I do not get attached to is fluids.

I recently attended a seminar put on by the Ford Motor Company, its purpose was to instill in the tradespeople the need to properly service the Power Stroke diesel engine with fluid changes while using the correct parts.

The old 6.0-liter Power Stroke has garnered an undeserved reputation for being problematic. Still, the issue really is a lack of proper maintenance.

Its large size (not in displacement but in mass) requires a copious amount of engine oil and coolant. This translates into costly services, and the owner extends the time between intervals. This would be akin to saying that toothpaste has gone up, so you brush your teeth less.

Another issue that was brought to the surface was idle time’s impact on fluid and service schedules. Excessive idling is a killer of any engine.

Photos of sludge clogged engines that failed in applications such as New York City ambulances that are never shut off were very dramatic. Since the accumulated mileage was low, these engines were hardly ever serviced, but the idling time was equivalent to tens of thousands of miles between oil and coolant changes.

For this reason, all of the diesel-powered light-duty trucks from every company have an odometer and an hour meter. Service is based upon either the mileage accumulated or the running time.

Most but not all in agriculture are actually too good with engine oil changes. This hurts nothing other than the pocketbook. But they are very poor with antifreeze, brake, transmission, power steering fluids, and hydraulic lubricants. These fluids break down from the heat, absorb moisture, and introduce dirt into even a sealed system. They all need to be serviced and not only on your road vehicles but every piece of equipment that you have.

Show me an engine with a blown head gasket that was not overheated, and I will show you coolant that has hardly ever been changed.

Other victims of a lack of service are the radiator and heater core. Most transmission failures result from changing the worn-out fluid’s chemical composition through moisture and depleted additives.

Likewise, moisture-laden brake fluid causes corrosion and lowers its boiling point. Degraded fluid will gas under high heat conditions, rendering the brakes inoperable. It will cause pitting in the master cylinder and other components that will rupture seals and induce complete failure.

Other areas that need to be considered are:

  • Suspension grease joints.
  • Brake pedal and linkage.
  • Speedometer cable.
  • Power steering fluid. 

Contrary to what many believe, older engines are more forgiving than modern designs due to the lack of metal compositions. Years back, engines were all cast iron, and other than a composite head gasket, there was little or no reaction between them.

A modern engine is a melting pot of different materials, making them more intolerant of chemical changes in any working fluid. This is the flip side of their stellar performance.
The good thing about fluid change is that it is rarely too late. Even though you may have neglected your fleet, today is an excellent time to start. There may have been some damage, but at least the problem will be arrested.

Follow the manufacturer’s specifications for the fluid type and buy the best name brand or the original equipment product itself. This way, you know your machinery is getting the right chemistry for a long and happy life. Proper fluid service is an effort that will cost you chump change, but it will help prevent the type of change you do not want – a failure of a significant mechanical component.

And by the way…. did you see that chick in the front row of the math class?