We all know that regular maintenance is important to keep our cars running safely and efficiently, but what does this entail and why is it so important?
Regular maintenance (including oil changes, tune-ups, and brake inspections) is a wise investment. It is as important to your car as regular doctor visits are to us. Cars that are well taken care of are safer, get better gas mileage, more dependable, perform better, and last longer.
So what items need to be maintained regularly? Check your car’s manual, but AAA recommends the following:
- Tire pressure and lights should be checked monthly
- Chassis lubrication, oil change with filter should be done every 3000 to 5000 miles or every 3 to 4 months
- Belts and hoses should be inspected at the same time your oil is changed
- Tires should be rotated and wheels balanced at every other oil change
- Brakes should be inspected at every other oil change
- Air filter should be replaced every 12,000 to 24,000 miles or as indicated by inspection
- Fuel filter should be replaced every 24,000 to 100,000 miles
- Automatic transmissions should be serviced every 24,000 to 100,000 miles
- Wheel alignment should be checked every 12,000 to 24,000 miles or as indicated by tire wear
- Cooling system should be flushed and refilled every 40,000 to 100,000 miles
- Belts and hoses should be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles or 5 to 8 years
- Timing belt should be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles or 5 to 8 years
- Air conditioning should be checked every spring to make sure it’s working properly
Tip: When getting your car serviced or comparing prices, make sure you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges. For example, when replacing a timing belt on some cars, your mechanic may recommend and include prices for a water pump and some seals since the extra labor is minimal (30 minutes) and to do it later could take four or more hours. Also, some shops may get you in for a low price on a timing belt and then let you know about the water pump after they’ve gone under the hood. Their price may not be as competitive in the end.
Another plug for routine maintenance: We had a customer bring his car in because it was running very poorly. He was pleased that his car had lasted so long and he hadn’t had to put any money into having repairs done. Well, after thoroughly inspecting the car, it needed more than two thousand dollars worth of work done to get it back on the road, not including the new transmission it required. He decided to buy a new car. Now we see him regularly for preventative maintenance.
We rely on our vehicles to get us to work, take us on a trip, and take our kids to school, playdates, and practice. Take care of your car, so it can take care of you.