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What Does a Car Maintenance Schedule Look Like?

Car owners should be taking care of their vehicles. If the only time that you bring your vehicle into a shop is when the check engine light comes on, you’re going to lower the lifespan of your vehicle.

Maintenance needs to be performed routinely.

New vehicles, such as Hondas, will come with service reminders. These reminders may pop up with a letter and number, or the service may be an illuminated wrench that will require a mechanic to determine your maintenance needs.

But you can also follow a basic schedule that allows you to service your vehicle properly based on certain engine mileage.

This schedule should be followed for older vehicles, and it’s of the utmost importance to follow the schedule that is listed within the owner’s manual. A few of the basic maintenance tips and schedules that you should be following are:

3,000 – 7,000 Miles: Oil Change and Filter Replacement


Every time you’re at the 3,000 to 7,000-mile mark, it’s time to at least perform an oil and filter change. Synthetic oils last longer, but traditional oil should be changed every 3,000 miles or so. Remember to flush out the system and to change out your oil filter.

Reusing an old oil filter will only lead to subpar performance and will not increase the longevity of the vehicle.

This is also a good time to conduct the following inspections:

  • Tires
  • Wipers
  • Washer fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Exterior lights

If any of the fluids are low, be sure to top them off. If fluid levels are severely low, you’ll want to check the vehicle for any leaks.

15,000 – 30,000 Mileage Intervals


When you hit the 15,000 and 30,000 mileage intervals, you’ll be doing a lot of inspection and potentially some maintenance, too. The inspections that you’ll be making are more serious than when you’re at the lower mileage intervals.

Basic inspection will include:

  • Coolant
  • Radiator hoses
  • Suspension components
  • Brake pads
  • HVAC system

You’ll want to check and refill the coolant as needed. You may need to replace the coolant at this time depending on the coolant color. If you notice that the coolant is discolored or there seems to be some debris in the coolant, you’ll need to flush the radiator and refill the coolant as needed.

Fuel filters often need to be changed at the 25,000-interval mark, so keep this in mind.

Air and cabin air filters should also be replaced. These two maintenance items are very easy to perform and will be much easier than a fuel filter to change.

Lube up any areas of the vehicle that need to be lubricated at this time. It’s also a good idea to check the tread on your tires to determine if the tires should be changed. Tires will improve the vehicle’s overall performance, including your vehicle’s stopping ability. Change tires as needed, or change to snow tires if you live in an area with harsh winters.

35,000 – 50,000 Mileage Intervals


Your vehicle is starting to show some wear at these interval levels, so it will be a good idea to have some major services done and possibly a tune-up. Batteries will need to be inspected at this time. If you see any corrosion on the terminals, be sure to clean of the corrosion with a wire brush.

This is a good time to replace an aging battery if needed.

Newer batteries can last 5 – 7 years (or longer) without any issues. You can also go to AutoZone or any local service center or mechanic shop to have your battery tested. Testing is often free and can save you the expense of having to replace an entire battery.

Spark plug wires and actual spark plugs will have to be at least checked at this time.

Wires should be replaced as needed. Different spark plugs last for different intervals, so you’ll need to change them on a must-change basis. You can look for videos online that will show you what different colors or corrosion or buildup will mean on your spark plugs.

The ignition system should also have a thorough inspection as well as your vehicle’s suspension.

Continue making these same inspections at the 45,000 and 50,000 interval mark if you have not needed to do maintenance.

60,000 Mileage Intervals


When your vehicle hits 60,000, 120,000 or 180,000+ mileage, you should be prepared for a few significant maintenance tasks to be made. You’ll be making replacements of many key parts, including your vehicle’s:

  • Brakes
  • Radiator hoses
  • Brake fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Timing belt (depends on the vehicle)

A thorough inspection of the vehicle will also need to be performed. You’ll be looking for wear and tear on all of the belts and hoses. If cracks or leaks are present, or you notice that the hose is squishy, it’s time to replace.

Check to make sure that all major suspension components are functioning properly and have also been properly lubricated. Your mechanic will also be able to help you keep your vehicle in pristine condition by recommending any pertinent repairs as they present themselves.

Regular inspections should be performed, and it’s a smart idea to maintain the vehicle before summer and winter.

If your vehicle did not come with an owner’s manual, a lot of manufacturers are now putting them online for owners to download. These manuals will provide you with basic maintenance schedules that should always be followed.

It’s often better to take a proactive approach than to wait to complete a routine maintenance task.

For example, I recently brought my Civic into the shop to have the oil changed as well as the transmission fluid. The fluid for the transmission wasn’t dark, so the shop said that it wasn’t a necessity to have it done immediately, but that I will need it to be done soon. I opted to have the transmission fluid changed immediately because metal particles can get into the fluid and start to degrade the vehicle’s transmission.

All of these maintenance tasks are important, and when performed regularly, you can ensure that your vehicle is running in top condition.

November 11, 2019

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Picture this: You’re driving down the highway, when all of a sudden your check engine light comes on. Your car had been driving a little funny, but nothing too out of the ordinary. In a panic, you pull over off the road and call a tow truck.

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