For most people, owning a car means getting to work every morning or driving to school every day. Any potential downtime can cause all kinds of chaos to your schedule, especially if you commute every day.
One way to keep car trouble away is to stay on top of your car maintenance schedule. Our goal today is to give you a rough outline of what needs to be serviced and when. Let’s dig in!
Scheduled Service VS Unscheduled Service
Before we get into details and specifics, we should separate scheduled services from unscheduled ones. Scheduled services include anything you do on your automobile based on mileage. Engine oil changes, air filter changes, accessory belt changes, and similar maintenance items fall into this category.
The unscheduled services represent anything that wears out based on how you use your automobile. For instance, your wiper blades could last you one year or several years — it all depends on where you drive and how you use your wipers. The same can be said about your car battery.
With that in mind, let’s start with scheduled automobile maintenance items.
4,000-7,000 Mile Intervals – Oil and Oil Filter
The 4,000-7,000 mile service is the backbone of automotive maintenance. Depending on what car you drive, you should change your engine oil and your oil filter within this interval. Some vehicles require earlier oil changes, while others are more lenient.
Make sure always to use quality engine oil and quality oil filters. Also, always use the prescribed engine oil viscosity. Your car’s manufacturer had tested all kinds of oils before they made their official recommendation. Our friends at eEuroparts.com recommend Motul oil and lubricants. They argue that you should always use quality oils and lubricants in your car.
15,000 – 30,000 Mile Intervals – Air Filters, Brake Fluid, and Inspection
Once you reach 15,000 miles, it’s time to check your engine air filter. A clogged up air filter can prevent your engine from getting the air it needs, thus interfering with the fuel trim and causing a slightly rich condition.
An average person drives around 13,500 miles per year. Following that statistic, we can estimate that it takes two years to add 27,000-30,000 miles to the odometer. Use this as an indicator that you should change your brake fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means that it attracts water.
Once it’s inside the brake system, it will be exposed to moisture, which begins to contaminate the fluid slowly. The acceptable level of water contamination is 2%. An average automobile, with an average driver, takes around two years to reach 2% contamination. Once that happens, your brake fluid will no longer have the necessary properties and require a change.
The 2-year mark, or around 30,000 miles, is also an excellent time to change your fuel filter. Every time you pour gas into your tank, you’re taking in all kinds of impurities — impurities you don’t want to reach your engine.
Thankfully, a fuel filter takes care of any debris, but it can deal with only so much before it gets clogged up. Once that happens, you could experience low fuel pressure, which causes rough idle, stuttering, and all kinds of other engine problems.
50,000 – 60,000 Mile Intervals – Timing Belt, Brakes, Transmission Fluid and More
Once you cover 50,000 – 60,000 miles, you need to start thinking about several major maintenance items. First, check your timing belt. Different manufacturers have different replacement intervals, but most of them will give you 50,000 – 60,000 miles before this crucial part of the engine needs to be replaced.
Fifty thousand miles is also when you should check your spark plugs. Again, depending on the car you drive, you might have to change them somewhere between the 50,000 to 60,000 miles. Only use spark plugs recommended by the car manufacturer.
Brake Pads and Rotors
Brakes are an essential part of your vehicle. They also wear out over time. A decent set of brake pads will last you around 50,000 miles. While replacing the pads, check your rotors for wear and warping. Replace as necessary.
Flushing the transmission fluid is also recommended within this interval. Old transmission fluid can cause all kinds of gearbox issues, clog various hydraulic valves, and generally make your automobile run poorly. While you’re at it, check the oil in your differentials as well.
Modern engine cooling systems run on so-called long-life coolants. That being said, you should still do regulate coolant flushes every 60,000 miles or so.
Unscheduled Maintenance – Tires, Wiper Blades, Car Battery, Hoses, and Other
As far as unscheduled maintenance items go, there are several things to focus on. We recommend performing an annual inspection of the vehicle where you will check for:
- Tire Wear – Make sure that your tires have enough tread on them. Use tread wear indicators and replace them as necessary. Make sure always to replace tires in pairs on the same axle.
- Wiper Blades – There’s no telling how long a set of wiper blades can last you. Replace them as soon as they start leaving streaks on your windshield
- Car Battery – Automobile batteries can last for up to 6 years, or they can last one year. Always purchase quality batters and have your battery tested every year before winter. A worn-out battery will leave you stranded when temperatures drop below freezing.
- Hoses – Your engine bay is full of rubber hoses. If you drive a car that is ten years old or older, make sure to check your hoses. Rubber will become hard and brittle over time, which will lead to cracks. Replace hoses as necessary.
Always Use Quality Parts on Your Car
Just following your car’s maintenance schedule isn’t always enough. The quality of the parts you’re using also matters. In fact, it’s imperative that you use quality components, oils, and lubricants when performing regular maintenance.
As long as you stay on top of these service intervals, your car should give you no trouble for years to come. We encourage you to look into your vehicle’s users’ manual to find exactly what kind of maintenance it requires.