Author Topic: Advice about regular car maintenance?  (Read 3698 times)

FrugalFan

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Advice about regular car maintenance?
« on: November 12, 2015, 12:44:36 PM »
We have two fairly new cars and want to make them last as long as possible (both paid in cash but once was bought new - facepunch!). I sometimes get the feeling that car dealers just want to get you to spend money on a bunch of unnecessary stuff, but I don't want us to skimp on the important things. We do have a nice mechanic that we trust. What should we be doing regularly, and how do we know when it is time to do those things? Thanks in advance!

AZDude

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2015, 12:56:42 PM »
Just look at the maintenance schedule from the manufacturer. Should be in the owners manual.

use2betrix

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2015, 12:58:33 PM »
Are they under warranty? If so, read your manual and follow it to a T, unless you want your warrant voided.

To be honest, even not under warranty I still read the service manual and follow its instructions. On older vehicles not burning oil I may stretch my oil change from 3k, to 5k miles, but other than that, that's about it. I believe that the major services are also important, such as the timing belt.

If you plan on driving your car into the ground, this is the best suggestion I would recommend. Shop outside the dealer as well if necessary.

FrugalFan

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 01:05:03 PM »
Hmmm, I didn't think about voiding the warranty. For some reason my DH thinks that maintenance was more than necessary (but he doesn't know much about cars). I will read up on it! Thanks for the suggestion. Hopefully it is clearly laid out.

Syonyk

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 01:30:30 PM »
There are two maintenance schedules.

"Normal duty" and "Severe duty."

You don't ever drive "Normal duty."  Literally everyone who uses a car falls into the "Severe duty" schedule.

Follow that schedule.  If you're driving fewer miles than average (which you'd better be...), change your oil at least once a year.  3 months or 3000 miles is silly for a modern car, IMO, unless you've got something known to be picky (Subaru Outback XTs, in particular, are very touchy about oil changes).

Some stuff can be safely ignored, but the manufacturer recommended schedule exists for a reason - it usually involves changing things *before* they fail.  So just don't drive much, perform the recommended maintenance, and you should be fine.

use2betrix

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2015, 01:31:23 PM »
Hmmm, I didn't think about voiding the warranty. For some reason my DH thinks that maintenance was more than necessary (but he doesn't know much about cars). I will read up on it! Thanks for the suggestion. Hopefully it is clearly laid out.

It is important and rightfully so. Car companies spend countless millions designing these engines to last, and engineers far smarter than anyone here designate the service intervals to maximize the cars life. They don't want vehicles in for warranty repairs. That's out of their profits.

The manual should be very straightforward. I actually go above and beyond on some things, even under warranty. Specifically fuel filters for my diesel.

use2betrix

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2015, 01:32:46 PM »
There are two maintenance schedules.

"Normal duty" and "Severe duty."

You don't ever drive "Normal duty."  Literally everyone who uses a car falls into the "Severe duty" schedule.

Follow that schedule.  If you're driving fewer miles than average (which you'd better be...), change your oil at least once a year.  3 months or 3000 miles is silly for a modern car, IMO, unless you've got something known to be picky (Subaru Outback XTs, in particular, are very touchy about oil changes).

Some stuff can be safely ignored, but the manufacturer recommended schedule exists for a reason - it usually involves changing things *before* they fail.  So just don't drive much, perform the recommended maintenance, and you should be fine.

For my truck, severe duty is classified as major regular towing and/or a huge amount of idling.

Kroaler

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2015, 03:52:33 AM »
Just wanted to chime in,   everyone I know falls into "normal duty".     Unless your fit the description in the manual for severe (and it is usually very harsh).  Do the normal schedule.     The engineers that designed the car wrote the manual.   Follow it religiously for long life.

skeeder

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2015, 10:21:47 AM »
I honestly do 'normal check ups' with my cars.  They are both over 10 years old.  I go in, and once a year I pay the higher price for oil change and a XX point inspection.  They make sure everything is functioning and isn't about to fail.  It costs a little bit, but it provides a peace of mind that your not missing a lose tie-rod or something that can snap and case some serious bodily harm. 

Oil changes I follow the manuals, Toyota says 7500 miles, my Saturn recommends every 3000 miles, but it goes about 5000 now.

Axecleaver

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2015, 10:31:56 AM »
A few, simple things that will give you the best ROI on your car:

1. If you buy a car used, replace the oil and consider replacing brake, transmission and radiator fluid. I like to start from a known maintenance interval. Many poorly maintained cars never have had brake, trans, or radiator fluid changed. For a 4wd, change the front and rear axle fluid, consider replacing transfer case fluid if over 60k miles.

2. Most modern cars have oil sensors that measure certain features of the oil (resistance, viscosity, water content), or that have algorithms that figure out how long the oil should last based on oil temperature and driving conditions. The car will tell you when it needs an oil change. When it does, do it within 500-1000 miles. I use 100% synthetic in my rides and it lasts 9-12k miles between changes, but at least once a year. 3k oil changes are completely unnecessary unless you're driving a taxi or in the desert. Check oil level every gas fillup. Some cars now have oil level sensors in addition to quality sensors, which are handy.

3. Check tire pressure, even if you have a TPMS system, every other fuel fillup, or monthly, whichever is less. Also check when seasonal temperature changes happen in summer/winter.

4. Rotate tires every 6k miles. This is easy to do yourself. Consider winter/summer tire sets, or five tire rotation methods. I use winter/summer. I admit I'm sometimes lazy about this and shorten my tire life by rotating less often.

5. Change air filter every 12k miles. This and tire pressure make up most inefficiencies in car maintenance.

6. For 4wd vehicles, replace front and rear axle fluid every 24-36k depending on use.

JLee

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2015, 10:37:01 AM »
Just wanted to chime in,   everyone I know falls into "normal duty".     Unless your fit the description in the manual for severe (and it is usually very harsh).  Do the normal schedule.     The engineers that designed the car wrote the manual.   Follow it religiously for long life.

Severe duty usually means if the car is driven in excessively cold or warm climates or if it sees a lot of short trips. Just living in Maine or Arizona will likely put you in the severe duty bracket.

Syonyk

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2015, 11:20:46 AM »
Just wanted to chime in,   everyone I know falls into "normal duty".     Unless your fit the description in the manual for severe (and it is usually very harsh).  Do the normal schedule.

I was wondering if the standards had changed in recent years from what I was used to for severe duty.

Here's what Mazda says about the 2015 Mazda3.  Any one of the following makes it count as severe duty.

Quote
Follow Schedule 1 if the vehicle is operated mainly where none of the following conditions (severe driving conditions) apply.
- Repeated short-distance driving
- Driving in dusty conditions
- Driving with extended use of brakes
- Driving in areas where salt or other corrosive materials are used
- Driving on rough or muddy roads
- Extended periods of idling or low-speed operation
- Driving for long periods in cold temperatures or extremely humid climates
- Driving in extremely hot conditions
- Driving in mountainous conditions continually
 If any do apply, follow Schedule 2.

I'd argue that most people will run into one or more of those, especially the salt, short trips, idling/low speed operation, or cold/hot/humid.  At least one.

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1. If you buy a car used, replace the oil and consider replacing brake, transmission and radiator fluid. I like to start from a known maintenance interval. Many poorly maintained cars never have had brake, trans, or radiator fluid changed. For a 4wd, change the front and rear axle fluid, consider replacing transfer case fluid if over 60k miles.

Definitely.  I like to "zero-time" things I don't know the history of on used vehicles.  It's one of the reasons I'm generally for people keeping cars they know the history of and just driving less instead of trying to save a few grand by buying a cheaper used car - the maintenance you have to perform to get them up to what I consider a reasonable spec is very non-trivial.  On an old shitbox, I usually figured $500, and on anything newer, a couple grand in the first year for maintenance items.

Trudie

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2015, 02:41:44 PM »
I drive 20K miles per year (commute).  I religiously adhere to oil changes (every 5-7K depending on weather conditions) and keep good tires on my car.  I've established relationships with local mechanics and the tire/light duty repair place and they always give it to me straight about maintenance.  The dealer will certainly try to get you in and drain your wallet.  I followed the schedule to a T during the first 100K just to make sure I didn't void the warranty.  Now I rely on the opinions of mechanics I trust.  They don't rip me.  I don't feel I've had unnecessary or expensive repairs that could have been avoided.

moneyandmillennials

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Re: Advice about regular car maintenance?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2015, 02:16:20 AM »
fill tire pressure monthly

change oil every few thousand miles

rotate tires every few thousand miles

change fluids

replace brake pads


read owners manual

weird noises, get checked right away