Maintenance blog and procedures.

“An executive from L-3- Communication company once asked me how do you guys really maintain all your 10 vehicles, I have been using your company’s services for 8 years, and I have never found anything not working, how do you manage such, I have hard time keeping up with 2 vehicles that I rarely use. I thanked him for the compliments and told him you are opening a door to a library, I told him many tasks that we perform, but then I thought I will start a blog which will help small fleet operations like ours and individuals as well.” - Owner ~Dave.

Blue Limousine Service has an ongoing preventative maintenance program for our entire fleet. Each vehicle is serviced and checked every 3000 for over 40 point performance inspection. In such inspection we perform a rigorous and complete safety check. This preventative maintenance program is practiced each time a vehicle is serviced, which is about every 20 days,

We trust only Ford and Lincoln vehicles, some companies tend to use GM, Cadillac, Chrysler, Mercedes and BMW in livery industry. Many use Toyota Avalon as well. I find Ford-Lincoln vehicles to outperform all the vehicles, we can put up to 400,000 miles on Lincoln Town car, Ford Expedition, Lincoln MKT, and Lincoln Navigator, and this has been achieved over and over without much issue; how we manage this, here we go…

So I will start with why not any other make and model: All other make and model are either too cheaply made, like Chrysler and Camry, and give a cheaper feeling on the ride all along. Cadillac sure has a class equal to Lincoln, but they are expensive, and have a lot of electric and maintenance issues. They are not liked by many Livery Companies and don’t do to well after 100k to 115k. A lot of problems are just waiting to happen without notice after 80k to be honest.

Why FORD and LINCOLN: and how we manage

Ford and Lincoln, are the only company that gives a 150,000/4 year bumper to bumper warranty on fleet vehicles. We love this, no maintenance issues up to 150k. And even after 150k, a well maintained vehicle can easily go up to 300k without an issue.Its also very convenient to have all the vehicles under Ford, maintenance predictions and planning is much easier that way

So here goes our maintenance plan

  1. OIL Change::We change oil every 10,000 miles, or about every 1-3 month depending on the usage and vehicle. We use either Mobile Extended Performance 5w-30, or Amsoil Signature series 5w-30.

    I have done many oil testsat JP lubricant labs and Mobile 1EP after 12k shows very little sign of slight ware, but Amsoil is good till 16-19k. Ams-oil is 30% more expensive than most oil, but it sure is better. If you want to call me and talk about oil and their performance tests, give me a call on Tuesday between 2-4 pm only. Regardless of oil performance or quality, we will still change oil at every 10k. Use premium Mobile one or Amsoil oil filter; do not use cheap filters if you are planning to go for 10k/oil change. Also change air filter every time we change the oil.

  2. Transmission oil change:: On a commercial use, I find the transmission oil doesn’t need to be changed up to 60-70k on a new car, and then change every 70-90k based on it needs. We sure will check the quality every 20k as a part of normal inspection procedure and determine if its needs a change or not. Ams-oil is the only oil company that manufactures fully synthetic transmission oil. Matter of fact, they are the first to come out with fully synthetic oil in the entire Oil Industry. Just after the first transmission oil change with Amsoil, one can feel a huge difference in the drive and shift, and also a little better mileage as well. If you are to use Mercon-5, which is Ford recommended transmission oil, then do change it every 30-50k.

    Note: ford does not require the change of transmission filter, we change it after 2nd change anyway, and again every alternate change.

  3. Brakes: We will change our brakes and rotors every 40k. Every time we change brakes, we will replace the rotors, and every time we replace the rotors, we will replace the brakes. Now the front rotors lasts less than rear, but it is easier to replace both at the same time, get over with it and forget about it.

    On larger vehicles: we will use non-ceramic brakes; it will create more dust, but stop the vehicle much faster. On sedans, we can use ceramic brakes. I find hawk performance brakes far superior, they cost twice the amount than dealer, but much easier in multiple ways. Every time we change the brakes, we will also flush the brake fluid. To replace brakes and rotors in sedan along with brake flush will cost us $500, to do the same in BMW, it will cost $1700. In BMW, Audi, and many other vehicle, only dealer can fix the brakes as they have installed a computer in it, and no one else can fix it; what a scam. We love ford for such reason… Note: don’t forget to lubricate caliper pistons with synthetic grease.

  4. Flush steering fluid: we will flush steering fluid every 50k. Synthetic brand steering fluid is preferred. To save time on this change, one can also extract steering fluid with injection and replace with new one.

  5. Tires: Well, tire is a major science, and it’s the biggest factor in maintenance management. Bad or poorly balanced tires can damage the shocks, front end, ball joints, bushings and much more. The technology for tires and tire balance equipment has changed a lot in recent years. We like all season high-way tires, the one that has a rating of 700AB or higher in T rated are good. They usually last for 90k on fleet use; we will replace them at 70k. Believe it or not, local cab companies are ready to pick up our used tires, and we let them…

  6. Tire balance: I only trust Hunter equipment for tire balance and installation. Road Force: tires have to be road force balance if not balance well, most people I know who like to talk about car maintenance do not know what road force balance is; look up at hunter road force balance. Mind well, a hunter tire balance and installation machine will cost around 50k. One can find a cheap machine on ebay for $2000, and it will be just as junk it can get. As far as I know, only 3-4 repair shop in NJ has it. I usually take my tire work to Super Tools in New Brunswick. George is a master mechanic there, and can fix many issues one can’t even imagine regarding tire failure. I will balance and rotate tires every 20k.

  7. Front end: We don’t touch the front end till 150-160k on a new car, but if we find any of the ball joint weak after 125k, I will replace the entire front end. This includes all ball joints, idle arm, pitman arm, control arm and bushings. Moog is a very good quality supplier for front end, and Moog is the only maker where one can lubricate the ball joints. Dealer parts are not recommended as they can’t be lubricated. After changing the front end, a wheel alignment is due. Note: a hunter wheel alignment will cost 80k, and a regular cheap one about 20-30k. I strongly recommend high quality equipment for such task.

  8. 150K maintenance: When the car touches 150k, we will change the dive belt as well. Belt will usually last around 200-220k. Also change oil drain plug. Also lubricate all moving parts as door, hinges, trunk locks, other locks, seats etc…

  9. Coolant change: We change coolant every 60k, or every 2 year. Every time we change a coolant, we will flush it with tap water 3 times before replacing it with coolant. I don’t like to use 50/50, I rather buy the concentrated one, and add only 30% water to it. Radiator fins are power washed every time coolant is changed. Note: please recycle the used coolant at appropriate facility, it’s a dangerous chemical.

  10. Shocks:: We change shocks every 100k. Shocks are tricky, either get OEM from dealer, or use higher brands like Bilstein or KYB. Sometime high end shocks can be stiffer so avoid anything except OEM if you are not so familiar with such. Always change shock bushings when changing shocks. Also, changing front shocks require changing front springs as well. Front springs can be expensive, but it is what it is. In town cars, there are also rear air suspensions, I like to change that around 150-160k; only OEM from dealer…

  11. Rear end fluid: Rear end vehicles provide better luxury than front end. We change the rear end oil at 100k. At 180k we will change the rear end axle, bearings and the oil. This will prevent future breakdown. Most ford vehicles will have bearing and rear end issues around 200-225k. Once we change it at 180k, we are good for another 120k for sure. Note: don’t use silicone to make a rear end gasket, buy a readymade gasket prior changing rear end oil. Silicone gasket will leak eventually after 20-30k.

  12. Spark plugs:: We will change the first spark plug at 80k, and then at every 50k. Sometimes I ask my mechanic to open one and check one or two plugs and see if it needs an early change. Considering we put 6-7k per month, we usually don’t need to change spark plugs till 70k.

  13. Car wash and detailing: All vehicles will go for a full car wash twice a week, and a full detailing twice a year. A new vehicle will skip detailing for one full year; we like the new car smell, and want to keep it that way… Around December, I will put some rubber spray underneath the car to avoid any rust due to snow/salt season. We will clean the radiator fins twice a year, and engine once a year with power spray water gun.

  14. Wiper blades: We change wiper blades every 4 month, three times a year. Usually they last between 5-6 month, but it’s easier to change it every four month and forget about it…

  15. There are many other little maintenance procedure that I can’t really recall after jotting 4 pages, but as they happen, I will come back and write for sure…

Of course, to achieve 400K miles out of a vehicle, it requires passion, consistency, dedication along with well planned maintenance, one has to be on top of any issue every time all the time.

~DaveOwner at Blue Limousine Service LLC (Mechanical Engineer, NJIT )

Learning is a lifelong process, and we are still learning, drop me a line if you liked our plan, or you think we can improve more to it. Like us on facebook

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The repair shops we go to :

RWI Limo repair: Russ is a master Mechanic and Electrician; he has been repairing limos for decades. For limo repairs, and all our complex issues, our vehicles will see Russ for sure.

Super Tool Automotive: For all over front end repairs, wheel alignments, and tire needs, we will take our vehicles at Super tools. George the owner at supertool, is also a master mechanic, and can manage any task that we might need.