Raise your hand if you hate taking your car in for service. I can imagine a lot of hands being raised right now. Next, raise your hand if you know when you should take your car in (and for what) to keep it in the best shape possible? I bet there are a lot fewer hands raised now. Have no fear; I am here to help you with a general car maintenance schedule! You should always double check your owner’s manual, but this guide should get you started in the right direction. Car maintenance can seem like an annoyance but taking proper care of your vehicle now can save you time and money down the road.
With that in mind, here is a car maintenance schedule to help you know when your vehicle needs service, in order from most frequently to least frequently:
- Rotate Tires – This one is done far too infrequently by many, including me! But to extend the life of your tires, and to stay safe, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first.
- Oil and Oil Filter – I’m pretty sure everyone knows you need to change your oil regularly. Even better, most newer vehicles will tell you when you need to get an oil change. As a general rule, though, cars today may be able to go as long as 5,000 to 10,000 miles between oil changes.
- Air Filter – Most vehicles need a new air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. However, if your car is exposed to a dusty environment, change the air filter every 12 months or about 15,000 miles.
- Fuel Filter – The schedule for this maintenance item varies widely by vehicle, but can be as frequently as every 30,000 miles. Check your manual and ask your mechanic to check your filter when the car is already in for service.
- Brake Fluid – To ensure that your brakes work as advertised, bleed your brake system of its fluid and replace with new brake fluid according to your vehicle’s manual. Most manufacturers recommend doing this every 20,000 to 45,000 miles.
- Brake Pads – Brake pads are another maintenance item whose schedule varies widely. Pay attention for screeching noises when they’re wearing out and have them checked regularly. For your reference, good brake pads can last up to 50,000 miles.
- Brake Rotors – Most brake rotors need to be resurfaced or replaced around 60,000 miles. It should be noted that a set of rotors can only be resurfaced one time.
- Coolant – Your coolant should be replaced and the cooling system flushed every 60,000 miles.
- Transmission Fluid – The timing for this maintenance item has many variables – manual or automatic, normal or heavy use, vehicle manufacturer, vehicle type, etc. The recommended schedule can be anywhere from 30,000 to well over 100,000 miles.
Taking your car into the shop or dealership for maintenance can be a pain. However, it is important and will be worth it in the long run. Furthermore, if you have an extended vehicle warranty, or decide to get one, you must adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance to make sure repairs will not be denied due to lack of maintenance. Do you have an extended car warranty or vehicle protection plan?
If your car is no longer under the manufacturer’s warranty, and you have not yet bought or considered getting an extended vehicle warranty or a vehicle protection plan, now is the time to do it! A vehicle protection plan covers the cost of certain repairs and problems after the original manufacturer’s warranty expires. A vehicle protection plan can often pay for itself in just one auto repair bill and will give you the peace of mind knowing that your vehicle will be taken care of if a mechanical breakdown happens. Third-party providers, like autopom!, can give you great coverage for less money than packages offered through car dealerships, so you can have peace of mind and save money too!