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

Top 10 Tips for Teen Drivers, Part 2

Teen Drivers

Welcome Back!  Earlier this week, we gave you the first five tips in our Top 10 Tips for Teen Drivers and today, we’re going to highlight five more that are equally as important.

So, here is Part 2 of our Top 10 Tips for Teen Drivers:

1. Check Your Tire Pressure, and Check it Often– This may seem like another common sense tip, but it’s actually something that is easily overlooked even by experienced drivers. Driving on properly-inflated tires will not only help you conserve gas, but will also allow you to avoid dangerous conditions created by under- or over-inflated tires. Get a pressure gauge and keep it in your glove compartment. A little prevention goes a long way when it comes to tire maintenance!

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings and the Driving Conditions– Being mindful of what’s surrounding you as you drive is something that even the most seasoned drivers must constantly do. With so many variables out of your control – other drivers, animals and pedestrians, the weather – being aware of your surroundings, and what the other people and objects on the road are doing, gives you the tools you need to avoid an accident. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that if the driving conditions are hazardous due to inclement weather, you need to adjust your driving accordingly. Remember: bad weather = worse driving conditions.

3. Avoid Playing with the Technology While Driving– This goes hand-in-hand with not using your cell phone while driving. With so many technological options available to drivers today – the radio, MP3 players, satellite receivers, navigation systems/GPS devices, etc. – there are that many more things that can distract you from the road. While some of these devices may be needed at any given time, planning ahead can help remove unnecessary distractions before they can cause a problem. Set up devices before you start out on your trip and don’t try to adjust them while you are moving. If you need to make changes, pull over in a safe area and made the necessary adjustments.

4. Adjust All Accessories Before You Pull Onto the Road –Just like #3, adjusting things like the rearview and side mirrors, seat, and steering column before you get on the road can help prevent dangerous, and often erratic, driving while trying to make adjustments. Check for any blind spots BEFORE driving so that you will be aware of them while driving. Also, be sure to secure loose objects in the vehicle. If you must make an unexpected, hard-breaking stop, you don’t want anyone in the vehicle to get hit with a random object from the back seat.

5. Get to Know Your Vehicle –In addition to checking your tire pressure, get in the habit of checking the motor oil, the windshield washer fluid and other important fluids for your vehicle, and learn how to fill them if they run low. Make sure all your lights are working before you drive, and keep the windows, mirrors and headlight lenses clean. Also, get to know your local mechanic and get an understanding of the regular service maintenance your car needs to keep it running reliably and safely. This could mean the difference between arriving on time or breaking down on the side of the road!

So there you have it – that wraps up our list of tips for new teens to help them grow and evolve into responsible, experienced drivers. Be sure to leave a comment below and let us know if there are any other tips you think teen drivers should know! We value your feedback!

*image courtesy of State Farm

Vehicle Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

DIY vehicle maintenance

In a recent post, we talked about the importance of regularly scheduled maintenance to protect your vehicle investment. Although routine maintenance is a necessity, it can add up very quickly. But there are several areas of vehicle maintenance that you can do on your own for a fraction of the price – all you need is a little know-how, a little time and a little cash for supplies!

Not all of the things listed below are able to be performed by every vehicle owner. Due to details like time/space constraints or lack of proper tools and general know-how, you may not feel comfortable tackling any or all of them, but even performing one or two of them can help you to save money in the long run. Here’s our list of vehicle maintenance you can do yourself, listed in order of difficulty, with 5 being the most difficult and 1 being the least difficult:

Oil Changes/Topping Off of Fluids – Probably the most involved item on the list in terms of time, space, and tools required, replacing the oil and checking the fluids in your vehicle yourself can seem a bit daunting. With so many different makes and models on the road, it’s best to do a little research about your vehicle’s needs. Items to look into include: proper grade of motor oil; amount needed to fill the engine; type and size of oil filter needed; and location of fluid reservoirs. An extremely important aspect to consider before undertaking this maintenance on your own is the disposal of the used motor oil. It must be disposed of properly due to EPA regulations and cannot be simply dumped down a drain.  Difficulty Level: 5

Replacement of Hoses/Belts – Most hoses in vehicles are easy to locate and replace with simply a screwdriver and/or a ratchet set. Belts, on the other hand, can be more of a challenge as they will more than likely require the movement of other engine parts like the alternator or radiator fan. Again, a little research is needed to find the proper sizes, as well as the average useful life of both hoses and belts for your particular vehicle.  Difficulty Level: 4

Replacement of a Battery – Replacing an old or depleted battery in a vehicle usually takes nothing more than a screwdriver and a ratchet set, but sometimes requires a little extra elbow grease to clean any corrosion off of the terminal cable clamps. In some newer vehicles, especially electric hybrid vehicles, there may require a few extra steps to replace the battery, so be sure to check out the requirements (i.e. size, voltage, etc.) before disconnecting the battery.  Difficulty Level: 3

Replacement of Windshield Wipers – Probably the easiest item on the list, replacing windshield wipers is as simple as buying the correct size blades for your vehicle and snapping them into place. There are several different grades of wiper blades, so be sure to pick up ones that best suit your vehicle’s needs. Things to consider include: amount and type of precipitation in your area, driving conditions for everyday travel, and the durability type of the blades.  Difficulty Level: 1-2

Vehicle Detailing – Maintaining the interior of your vehicle is almost as important as maintaining the mechanics and the exterior, especially for retaining resale value. Auto detailing companies charge a lot of money for something that can be easily done on your own. Investing in the cleaning products and your time is a small price to pay to maintain the integrity of your vehicle’s interior. Simple things like treating leather seats and dashboard and vacuuming floorboards and seats requires little more than some Armor All and a handheld vacuum cleaner!  Difficulty Level: Varies depending on how detailed you want to get.

We mentioned earlier that all of these items required a little bit of know-how, but where do you go to find out how to maintain your vehicle? Great question! There are many resources available to you, but the first place to start is with the Owner’s Manual that came with the vehicle. This is where you will find all of the important information regarding your specific make and model and year.

From there, you can jump online and check out e-learning sites like eHow, wikiHow and How-Cast to get step-by-step maintenance instructions for your vehicle. In addition, there are a plethora of great blogs (like this one) that write reviews on different types of products, like motor oil and wiper blades.

As we said, with a little know-how, a little time, and a little cash, you can perform your vehicle maintenance at home! Have any other suggestions for DIY/home vehicle maintenance? Got an online resource that you use regularly for repairs? Let us know in the comments below – we always appreciate your feedback!

*image courtesy of marie_claire_camp on flickr.com