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posted: 5/6/2012 5:56 AM

Under the hood: Replace parts in pairs

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Have I ever written about the importance of maintenance?

Just kidding; it seems that's probably my favorite topic.

I am writing this column from Camp Paradise in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Camp Paradise is a beautiful camp but fairly isolated in the north woods. If you are reading this, technology worked and, I was able to get the email out.

So, you might be asking, what does this have to do with maintenance? Good question, because that is the whole reason I drove nine hours to get here.

I am here with a good friend, my son and son-in-law to help get the camp ready for summer. Our role, as you might have guessed, is to prepare all the equipment for the summer season. It seems everything up here has a gas-powered engine on it, so we will spend a couple of days going through every piece of equipment to make sure it is ready for the long summer ahead.

We will be changing lots of oil and spark plugs and making any other adjustments or repairs that may be needed. Imagine if we just ran all this equipment and never did any routine maintenance. How long do you suppose it would last?

The bad news is many of us don't take care of our cars the way we should and that lack of maintenance will eventually catch up to us.

I wanted to focus in on one habit I would like to recommend you develop; that is to replace things in pairs. Whether it be a light bulb or a suspension part like a ball joint or a brake caliper, it is real good practice to replace both sides.

If you think about it, both sides of the car have the same amount of wear, so if one side wears out or breaks, you can be pretty sure the other side will not be far behind. Even if the part looks good, do yourself a favor and change it anyway. You won't know it, but, trust me, you will save yourself a fair amount of aggravation.

Here are some of the parts you should change in pairs that come to mind, though not everything.

• Brakes and brake components like calipers and wheel cylinders, drums and rotors.

• Suspension parts like ball joints, tie rod ends, struts and springs.

• Light bulbs, belts and hoses, wiper blades and tires.

• Universal joints and axle joints.

Gas savings tip of the week: If you are driving with a "check engine" light, on you may be wasting fuel. It depends on what system on the car has failed, but there is a good chance your car is not running in an optimal state.

There are three benefits to getting the car fixed and the light reset. Your engine will be running optimally, you can run to the emissions lane without fear of failure, and, lastly, you won't have to see that light staring you in your face.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to

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