What car maintenance should an owner do?
Here is what I recommend for maintenance intervals. There are exceptions to all of these including severe duty, which most northern cars fall into.
- Change transmission fluid every 30,000 miles
- Change oil every 3,000 miles or three months, unless you use synthetic oil, in which case every 5,000 miles
- Chassis lube every 3,000 miles, assuming there are fittings
- Spark plugs: Conventional plugs: 30,000 miles, Double platinum: every 50,000 miles (100,000 mile plugs are best to be changed well before that, although some can reach it)
- Fuel filter: 30,000 miles. Unless it is in the tank. But if the tank is ever dropped, do it then
- Ignition cap, rotor, wires: (if it has them) As needed
- Timing Belt, if applicable: At manufacturers recommended intervals
- Coolant flush: Five years
- Coolant flush -- dex-cool or long life: 5 years
- Tire rotation: As needed
- Alignment: 15,000-20,000 miles, unless tire wear is not a problem and car goes straight
- Brake fluid flush and power steering fluid flush: 2 years or when dirty or discolored
- Air filter, pcv valve and cabin air filter: Every 30,000 miles or as needed
Every auto manufacturer lists their required maintenance on their web sites and in the owners manual the maintenence service intervals vary between manufacturers.
Your car is a moving piece of machinery, it needs maintenance, if you want this car to last you need to service it. Do not just do the minimum recommended services that are listed in your service manual. Make sure you service your cooling system which prolongs the life of the radiator and water pump, and the power steering system, which will extend the life of your cars power-seeking pump and gear box or rack. It will cost you much more than you want to spend when you fail to maintain your car and larger problems surface. I recommend that you review your owners manual and get acquainted with a reputable auto repair facility. A good relationship with your car and your car's mechanic will benefit you in the long run, providing you with a long lasting and safe car.
Basic Car Care
Basic car care can be simple and take only a short time to complete if you know what to do and look for.
Check your oil every week by first starting the vehicle and letting it run for at least 30 seconds. This allows the oil to fill the oil filter and will give you a proper reading on your dipstick. Shut the engine off wait 2-5 min to allow the oil to settle, and pull the oil dipstick, wipe it clean and replace it in the dip stick tube. Pull it out a second time and check the level. Fill if needed, but do not overfill, and it's best to use the same weight of oil last used.
Check your transmission every month by first pulling the transmission dipstick and checking if it requires the transmission to be in neutral or park. You can do this by reading the dip stick usually near the fill line. Start your vehicle and run it through the gears ending in the recommended gear, set the parking brake and pull the dipstick, clean it off and recheck it for a proper reading (remember that transmission fluid expands when hot). If the fluid is in the checked area do not add. If you do need to add fluid be sure to use the correct type recommended for your vehicle and again do not overfill.
I recommend never pulling the cap off your brake fluid. Brake fluid draws moisture from the air and can contaminate the system. If you think there is a problem with your brakes, have them checked by a certified brake specialist. You should not need any fluid added to your brakes unless you have a problem such as a leak or the brakes need to be replaced. Most new vehicles have a sensor built into the brake system that lets you know if you need brake work, and this is activated by the amount of fluid in the reservoir. By adding fluid you can do more damage than good. (Make sure you know what fluid it takes dot 4 and dot 5 are not compatible. Cars with Anti-lock brakes should get their fluid flushed every couple years or every 30,000 miles. A $1500.00 ABS module that went bad from dirty fluid can be avoided)