There’s nothing more critical for the long-term life of your vehicle than regular car maintenance. Of course, many drivers aren’t sure exactly when their vehicles need a trip to the local mechanic or dealership. They don’t want to get unnecessary work done but also fear shortening the life of their automobile.
Here are some things to consider when deciding how often you need car service:
Mileage-Based Car Maintenance
Many car service jobs are based on different mileage intervals. This kind of maintenance schedule says that a particular task needs to be completed once you drive a certain number of miles. For example, your mechanic might suggest replacing your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
While letting the miles on your odometer indicate when it’s time for car service is a simple way to track maintenance needs, it’s not always accurate. For example, many people believe that your car’s oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. Modern engine oils and lubricants mixed with newer engines might only need an oil change at 5,000 miles. Some engines, those that require full-synthetic oil, might be able to go 15,000 miles between changes.
Sadly, it’s nearly impossible to judge the life of your car’s oil by color, so it’s not always easy to know when your car really needs service.
Car Maintenance Reminders
One of the nice perks about newer vehicles is that they come with a maintenance reminder system. These systems consider various operating conditions to determine when certain tasks should be completed. Typically, an in-dash warning light will turn on when it’s time to schedule car service.
Vehicle maintenance systems are usually pretty reliable, so you can trust their warning lights. At the same time, if you don’t drive your car often or don’t put many miles on it, the warning lights may not come on enough. For example, even if you don’t drive 3,000-5,000 miles in a year, it’s still a good idea to have your oil changed at least once every 365 days.
The Best Way To Know
While vehicle maintenance systems and mileage-based car service are tried and tested methods for knowing when your car needs maintenance, the best way to know is to simply read your owner’s manual.
While all vehicles benefit from things like oil changes, tire rotations, belt replacements, etc., they may not all need them at the same time. Your vehicle’s manual has the specific intervals that your specific car needs different levels of service.
If you no longer have your owner’s manual, you can often find the information you need online or at your local dealership. Even if you rely on other methods of knowing when to schedule maintenance, it’s critical that you understand what your car needs and when.
If you’re still in doubt, stop by your local mechanic. Mechanics and service departments will often error on the side of caution, so do your homework as well.
Keeping your used vehicle on a tight car service plan will ensure that it keeps you running for miles to come.