Having serviced a quarter of a million cars, Molle’s auto technician shares tips for car longevity
By Kathy Feist
When Bounyong Sysavath became an auto technician 34 years ago, the ground could easily be seen beneath a car’s engine.
Nowadays a vehicle’s engine is a complete sheet of electronic computers, wires and mechanical parts, making Sysavath more a software diagnostician as much as a parts mechanic.
Sysavath began working at Molle Toyota in 1986, soon after it opened off 103rd and Wornall. It is estimated Sysabath has worked on 250,000 cars since then. His attention to detail has made him Molle Toyota’s most sought after technician.
“When people come here, they ask for Boun [pronounced Boon],” says Jim Seaman, director of marketing at Molle. He has relied on Sysavath to maintain his vehicles for over 14 years.
“I treat each car as if it’s my own,” says the popular technician.
Sysavath owns a Toyota Tundra and Sequoia, both with 300,000 miles on them.
“If you treat everything good, your car can last a million miles,” he says.
At Molle, Sysavath works on old cars, new cars, electric cars, and vehicles of all makes and models. He shares some advice on how to keep your car running for a good, long time.
- If your car uses synthetic oil (0W20), you should have the oil changed every 10,000 miles.
- If your car uses conventional oil (5W20), you should have the oil changed every 5,000 miles. “Keep your oil changed regularly and the car will last a long time,” he says.
- Change your brake fluid every 30,000 miles
- Change your transmission fluid every 90,000 miles. Sysavath stresses that keeping all fluids filled is a key to longevity. “If you don’t change it, it will cook and [the fluid] will dry out,” he says, likening the process to cooking over a stove.
- Get a 27-point inspection on occasion. The diagnostics can help you budget for future service repairs, such as new tires or brakes.
- Drive your car hard. “When you buy a new car, drive it hard,” says Sysavath. “Don’t drive it like ‘Miss Daisy. Punch it.” He compares it to exercising every morning, which makes the body feel good. “The car is the same thing. Otherwise its computer gets lazy.”” A sudden change in driving habits can throw off the sensor system. Back in the day, this might have been known as “blowing out the carburetor,” a method used to get the oils up to temperature and burn off the rubbish sediment.
- Find a technician you trust. Sysavath says dealerships may cost a little more than independent mechanics, but mistakes made will cost more in the long run. “Independents might install a generic oil filter that fits 15 different makes of cars,” he says. “At a dealership, you get a filter that actually fits the car.”
- Find a technician who is ASE certified. Molle technicians must go through certification training on a regular basis.
In the end, Sysavath has one concern when it comes to car maintenance. “I want to make sure you go home safe,” he says.