Car Care Tips > Basic Maintenance Tips

Type of Service

Mileage Intervals

Why

Regular Oil Change

Use the type recommended by the manufacturer in the owner's manual for your driving conditions. Average oil for most vehicles is 10-30 wt. In extreme cold areas a 5-30 wt oil, for extreme heat and towing use a 10-40.
3,000-3,750 for changing oil, check oil levels monthly or on every fuel refill. Oil never wears out, it just gets dirty, that is why you can recycle it. Driving conditions, extreme heat and cold, as well as fuel seepage through the pistons and valves, are all factors that can cause the oil to deteriorate. This is the cheapest way to extend the life of the engine.

Synthetic Oil Change

Usually a 10-30 wt is the best under all driving conditions, but check the recommended guidelines from the manufacturer of the synthetic oil. Manufacturers generally do not have any guidelines for synthetic oil. Synthetic oil was created for use in jet engines back in the '40s. Regular oil burns up in about 20 minutes in a jet engine.
3,750 - 25,000 depending on the recommendations of the synthetic oil manufacturer. Same basic concerns are regular oil, it just does not break down as easily since it is not a derivitive of fossil-oil based manufacturing.

Oil Filter Replacement

Use the type recommended by manufacturer in owner's manual. The best type includes an anti-drainback valve to allow quick lubrication of the upper engine on a cold start. If using synthetic oil, use the type recommended for that oil.
With every oil change. If using synthetic oil at longer intervals, change filter at least every 7,500 miles. Extends the life of the oil and protects the engine, especially during cold starts.

Coolant Service

Coolant Drain and Refill, use the type recommended in your owner's manual. Coolant should have a strip test for nitrates and ph balance at every oil service.
Usually around 30,000 or 60,000. Check your owner's manual. Coolant cleans and lubricates the components of the cooling system. It will get dirty from contact with metal and aluminum, extreme heat and cold and the hoses.

Hoses

Coolant and Heater Hoses.
Should be inspected with every oil change. Hoses will start to crack or leak over long period of use. Do not drive vehicle if any of these hoses break.

Transmission Fluid

Drain and refill. Even better flush and refill, flush sucks old fluid out of all areas of transmission. Check the owner's manual for the type to use. To check fluid level, carefully follow directions in owners manual, usually engine must be at regular operating temperature.
. Different manufacturers are suggesting different intervals, usually 30,000. Check your owner's manual.

Spark Plugs

Check owner's manual for type and intervals.
30,000 - 100,000 miles depending on the engine and plug type. Allows for complete burning of the fuel, cleaner emissions and better fuel economy.

Spark Plug Wires

Use the best you can buy.
As needed, should be inspected with oil change. Allows the best possible spark to the plugs to complete buring of fuel and minimize misfire.

Timing Belt

Use the one from the manufacturer of the vehicle.
60,000 to 120,000, depending on the engine type and manufacturer's recommendation. It is a belt that will break totally disabling your vehicle. When it breaks on some engine types, it can also do damage to the valves or other engine components.

Disk Brake Pads

2 or 4 wheel.
20,000 - 60,000 on average, but can depend on driving habits, towing uses or other factors that can create faster wear. Listen for grinding noises when braking. It is best to have them inspected with each oil change. It is best to replace them before there is about 10% of the pad remaining. Safety is the main concern. However, if the pads go to metal, they will damage the metal brake rotors, which will have to be replaced adding a major expense. Rotors are the part of the wheel that the pads make contact to stop the vehicle.

Rear Brake Drum

Rear Brake Drum Service and Brake Shoe Replacement.
15,000 best for cleaning and inspection. Replace shoes as needed, intervals can vary depending on driving habits and conditions. Brake shoe dust and dirt build up in the drum causing poor adjustment and contact between the shoe and drum. This creates faster wear of the front pads and uneven braking under emergency stops.

Air Filter

Use the best type possible.
7,500 - 15,000, depending on driving habits and environmental conditions. Important for complete burning of fuel, affects mpg and engine performance. Allows for proper air/fuel mixture.

Clutch and Brake Fluid

When necessary usually refill with 3 Dot type hydraulic fluid. Check owner's manual for best type to use.
Inspect level and quality on every oil change. When levels are low, they usually indicate the need to replace the pads or shoes, but this can also indicate a leak in the system. This fluid can also get dirty and collect water contaminating the brake fluid.

Windshield Wiper Blades

One of the most skipped maintenance items, usually discovered when it is raining. Cheap safety item.
Inspect and replace with each oil change or as needed. Major safety item, don't forget them!!!!

Windshield Washer Fluid

Only buy fluids recommended for this purpose, very inexpensive. Do not use water, can freeze and ruin the system.
Top off with every oil change. Major safety item, keep the reservoir filled.

Power Steering Fluid

Use recommended fluids in owners manual.
Inspect level on every oil change, there are max and min levels. Can cause damage to power steering system and failure of steering system.

Engine Belts

Inspect on every oil change. Can disable the engine, steering, ac or electrical systems.

Air Conditioning System

Inspect system for leaks on every oil change. Freon never goes bad, AC system failures are due to leaks or system failure.

Tire Rotation

3,750 - 7,500, depending on recommendations in owner's manual and vehicle type. Mini-vans and trucks usually need rotation at 3,7500. Regular vehicles between 5,000 -7,500. Allows for even tire wear to extend life of tire and for maximum safety.

Inspecting Tire Pressure

Check owner's manual for proper pressure for your vehicle type. Do not fill tires to maximum recommended on tire unless it matches pressure recommendations in owner's manual.
Monthly or on every fuel refill. Allows for even tire wear to extend life of tire and safety when braking for straight stops.

Tire Balancing

Not really a maintenance, usually needed due to losing balancing weights on rims from hitting something like a pothole.
As needed. Allows for even tire wear to extend life of tire. If needed, main symptom is a vibration in the steering wheel at a specific speed range - for instance, 30-35 mph.