Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane on Tuessday reassured the public that student l.
RODNEY, there is a general trend affecting DIY servicing. This is that a fuel-injected, computer-controlled engine is relatively difficult for the average owner to service, compared to the carburettor-fed engines on older cars.
This also applies to the Fiat Palio, in fact, it applies to all new vehicles sold in South Africa in the past few years. The last carburettor models disappeared from new vehicle showrooms when the Nissan 1400 bakkie went out of production and Volkswagen converted their Citi Golf to fuel injection.
The reason is the all-pervasive use of highly-specialised, complex electronic control modules for every engine function. Unfortunately the man in the street has no realistic hope of diagnosing, let alone fixing, a fault in an electronic component - he will never pick up the electronics expertise in the normal course of events.
That's the bad news about modern cars and DIY servicing. It explains why people who prefer, or are compelled to do their own servicing, often stick to older cars.
Fortunately there's a flip side to this story: many of the traditional maintenance chores that in the past had to be done regularly are no longer necessary on a fuel-injected engine. These include fussing with a carburettor that can wear and go out of adjustment as well as points replacement and the subsequent ignition timing adjustment.
Even before the arrival of fuel-injection in family cars, points disappeared, their function having been taken over by maintenance-free electronic ignition systems. On late-model engines long-life spark plugs are used which only require replacement at very long intervals.
So, you can do less than in the past, but there is also less that you have to do. However, certain things the DIY mechanic can still do: changing the oil, replacing the oil filter, replacing the air filter, to name three of the most important ones. And when it comes to this, not all cars are born equal.
There are those where engine components are so deeply hidden under a maze of wiring and plumbing, so completely covered under shrouds that it's hard to even see them.
In this regard you are lucky - for a small car, the Palio Go! has exceptionally good accessibility in the engine compartment. (It helps that it doesn't have power steering or aircon - the more basic the car, the less there is to clutter up the engine bay.)
All items requiring regular attention are easy to see and reach, and no special tools are needed.
Even the timing belt, a crucially important service item that's often a nightmare to replace, is very easy to get to on this engine.
Be careful when changing the oil that you don't cross-thread or over-tighten the sump plug, and that its sealing washer is in good shape. As mentioned in last week's column, it's important not to overfill the engine with oil. Stick to the manufacturer's recommended grade of oil, and steer clear of aftermarket additives. When replacing the oil filter, make sure, before you fit the new filter, that the old sealing ring is not left behind on the mounting flange, and always check for oil leaks after the engine has run for a few minutes.
A major oil leak will reduce your engine to scrap aluminium in a very short time.