What to Expect at Regular Service Intervals on Your Vehicle

regular service intervals

For most new vehicles, it’s recommended by manufacturers that routine services be performed at standard intervals, which occur at the following mileage marks: 15,000, 30,000, 45,000, and 60,000.  In this post, we’re going to give you a brief outline of what to expect and a checklist of areas for each milestone.

By its very nature, vehicle maintenance is a necessary evil, but by following the outlines and checklists below, you can easily keep track of your vehicle’s major maintenance items. Regular maintenance will ensure that your vehicle remains as problem-free as possible and help it to retain an appropriate resale value.

15,000-Mile Service

This will be your first major service and should come at about 15,000 miles, which typically occurs within or close to the first year anniversary of purchasing your vehicle. Given the young life of your car and its components, it’s a relatively basic procedure. Expect to have the engine oil and oil filter changed, along with the engine air filter and the in-cabin air filter. A new engine air filter will ensure optimal gas mileage and keep engine contaminants to a minimum, while a new in-cabin air filter will keep your car’s interior dust and contaminant free.

Wiper blades should also be inspected at this point, especially if winter is approaching, and replaced as needed. Understanding all of the items in your 15,000-mile service is important, because this process will be repeated at all major service intervals.

15,000-Mile Checklist:

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement

30,000-Mile Service

In addition to the items replaced at your 15,000-mile service, a new fuel filter will be needed to keep your engine running smooth. Engine coolant will also be changed at this time to ensure that your car’s engine does not overheat, and power steering and transmission fluids should be flushed out and replaced. These fluids break down over time and lose their effectiveness; for the average commuter, these fluids will have been in use for roughly two years. This service should be repeated every 30,000 miles to keep your car in good health.

30,000-Mile Checklist

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement
  • Fuel filter
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Engine coolant

45,000-Mile Service

Your vehicle’s 45,000-mile service will include its commonly changed maintenance items (such as an oil and oil filter change), but will additionally focus on the service of the car’s ignition system. Spark plugs are key engine components that need to be replaced after three years or 45,000 miles. Worn-out spark plugs can cause misfires and dead cylinders, which seriously harm the performance and lifespan of an engine. A new ignition management system, which runs the spark plugs, should also be fitted to ensure that the entire ignition system is functioning normally.

Brake fluid should also be changed after 45,000 miles or three years, as it absorbs water over time and thickens, losing its efficiency. Brake pads need to be checked and replaced as needed, especially for drivers who spend a significant amount of time in stop-and-go traffic. This service should be repeated every 45,000 miles to ensure maximum engine health and brake use.

45,000-Mile Checklist

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement
  • Spark plugs
  • Distributor cap
  • Brake fluid
  • Inspect brake pads/replace if necessary

60,000-Mile Service

At 60,000 miles, the 30,000-mile service should be repeated with one additional replacement – the timing belt. The timing belt runs critical internal engine components (specifically cams and valves) and can cause serious damage to the engine if it breaks, so be careful not to overlook this easy-to-miss item. Due to its age and constant use, the car’s battery will probably be losing its charge by now and should also be replaced to avoid future start-up troubles. Repeat this service every 60,000 miles, and at 75,000 miles, repeat your initial 15,000-mile service.

60,000-Mile Checklist

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement
  • Fuel filter
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Timing belt
  • Battery

Whether you decide to have your vehicle serviced with the dealership service center or at a local repair shop, the important thing to remember is that each milestone service must be done to ensure your vehicle is running its best.

Let us know what you think or if you have any questions in the section below. We always appreciate your feedback!

image: osunick on Flickr.com

Spring Cleaning for Your Vehicle

spring cleaning for your car

Winter is the harshest time of the year for pretty much everything, but especially cars!  This is doubly true for vehicle owners who live within the snow belt. Corrosive road salt, loose stones, and road debris from snow plows, traction sand, and repeated freezing and thawing can wreak havoc on your car’s exterior, and leave your second largest investment looking like a jalopy. These severe aspects of winter driving can also put a strain on the moving parts of your car.

So, to help you get your vehicle ready for hitting the open road with the windows (and maybe even the top) down, we came up with 8 areas that should be checked once spring’s warmer weather hits.

  1. Check Your Alignment, Tire Pressure and Brakes – Potholes and other less-than-optimal driving conditions can throw your wheels out of alignment, putting more wear and tear on your tires. If your vehicle displays any signs of veering off to one side, you should have your alignment checked and readjusted as soon as possible.  In addition, check tire pressure against the recommended pressure for your vehicle and particular type of tire. The change in temperature can cause changes in air pressure within your tires. The change of seasons is a great time to check your brakes because they generally lose performance slowly over a long period of time, so we might not notice that they are not functioning properly until they get into the danger zone.
  2. Replace the Air Filter – Replacing a clogged air filter can increase a vehicle’s life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing strain on the engine, especially heading into the warmer months of spring. During the winter, snow-related debris and other impurities may build up in a vehicle’s air filtration system, and replacing the air filter can improve acceleration time by around 6-11%, according to fueleconomy.gov.
  3. Change the Oil and Top-off All Fluids – A typical driver generally changes the oil every 3 or 4 months, which corresponds perfectly with the change in seasons. However, during the winter months, cold weather puts extra strain on the engine as it must contend with more viscous motor oil. Once spring gets here, we advise an oil change to flush out the old oil and make sure all fluids are property topped-off – especially the coolant in the radiator. Proper fluid levels are critical for your vehicle’s best performance.
  4. Check Wiper Blades – Although people use their wiper blades often, their maintenance is something that is easily forgotten. Once winter is gone, you should check your current wiper blades for cracks, dry-rotting or excessive wear. If they look shabby, they’ll do a shabby job of clearing your windshield.  That’s definitely something you don’t want heading into spring (April Showers, anyone?). Don’t forget the rear wiper blade if you have one!  A good rule-of-thumb for the replacement of wiper blades is every six months to ensure the best possible clearing of your windshield.
  5. Check Your Battery – Winter weather can cause problems for your battery’s connections, so you will want to check posts and connections to make sure they are free from any dirt, grime, or corrosion. If the posts are dirty, remove the cables (negative cable first) and clean each of them thoroughly. If you don’t know how to properly clean them, check out this article. In addition, you should know your battery’s power level and the charge it is holding. If you don’t have the tools to do this, many auto parts stores will check your battery for free.
  6. Wash and Wax Your Car – Salt, sand, and debris from winter driving can damage your vehicle’s exterior, so wash it thoroughly as soon as temperatures rise and stay above freezing. Be sure to clean the underside of your vehicle, as well. That is where corrosive elements can do the most damage – even though you might never see it. Spring is also a good time to check your entire vehicle for rust, which can worsen during the winter months. So, in early April, give your car a good wax. Spring rains will roll right off and your vehicle will be much easier to clean the next time you decide to wash it.
  7. Touch-Up the Paint – You might have spent much of the last few months with your vehicle covered with snow, dirt or road grime, but salt, stones and even ice scrapers can cause damage that lies just below the surface grime. After you wash your vehicle, check for chips, scratches, or blemishes that need a paint touch-up. Buy a small amount of matching vehicle paint to do it yourself, or consult your local body shop.
  8. Detail the Interior – Your floor mats and carpets have probably seen better days after winter debris has been constantly tracked into your vehicle. If you have special all-weather floor mats, a simple hosing off will do wonders. If your floor mats are carpeted, vacuum them and clean any stains. With the floor mats out of the car, vacuum the interior carpets and around the various cracks and crevices of your vehicle’s floor. Use a vinyl/leather protector, like Armor-All, to brighten up dashes and trim that may have suffered during the cold weather.

Once you get your ride all spic and span, you’ll be ready to enjoy the warm weather while driving your well-maintained vehicle. Do you have any other Spring Cleaning Tips you’d like to share? Let us know down in the comments section below – we always love your feedback!

*image courtesy of hezoos on flickr.com