What Maintenance Schedule
Should I Follow?
The simple and easy answer is to take your car in for an oil change
every 3 to 12 months / 3,000 to 7,500 miles, depending on your car's year. Think of an oil
change as a physical for your car, a chance to have an expert thoroughly look it over and
see if everything is O.K. Assuming you drive between 12,000 and 20,000 miles a year,
here's my recommended annual maintenance schedule:
JAN-FEB-MAR (1st Visit) = LUBE, OIL, FILTER (LOF), ROTATE TIRES,
CHECK BRAKES, CHECK ALIGNMENT
APR-MAY-JUN (2nd Visit) = LUBE, OIL, FILTER (LOF), TRANSMISSION
JUL-AUG-SEP (3rd Visit) = LUBE, OIL, FILTER (LOF), ROTATE TIRES,
CHECK BRAKES, COOLING SYSTEM FLUSH
OCT-NOV-DEC (4th Visit) = LUBE, OIL, FILTER (LOF), TUNE UP
Before we go on, let me explain why some of my recommendations
follow the car manufacturers and why I differ on other issues. First, it's important to
know that your owners manual is put in every car sold, no matter if the car is sent to
Gunnison, Colorado or to Death Valley, California. Every recommendation for service
depends on how you drive, how far you drive and the ambient or outside temperature of the
climate you are driving in. Often an owners manual will dictate cooling system flushes
every two years. That's fine if you live in "moderate climates". But not OK if
you live where it's always very cold or very hot.
A flush every two years is not a good idea now that radiators and
related cooling system repairs cost 3-5 times what they did in the 70's. It's the old,
"you can pay me now or you can pay me later" routine except the "pay me
later" will cost a whole lot more. A $100 cooling system flush done properly once a
year will virtually assure that you will never have to purchase a radiator. I think you
will agree that $100 a year is better than $500-700 every three to five years.
Its a good idea to actually listen and follow the
recommendations of your technician, the one who is charged with the responsibility of
keeping your car in good shape. When in doubt, ask him what he does to his own car or his
You can go to the next FAQ which is a page you can keep track of
your annual maintenance by clicking here: NEXT FAQ.
Bottom line, you are best served by following the recommendations of
the maker of your vehicle and all of that information is in your owners manual.
Changing your oil every 2 or 3 thousands miles because you think
your car will love you more, is foolish. On just about all 2000 and newer cars and trucks
(2000 and upwards), you can go 5000 - 7500 miles between oil changes as long as you check
your oil at fill ups. See FAQ# 31
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