Author Topic: Car maintenance for low mileage cars  (Read 2374 times)

SimpleCycle

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Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« on: January 04, 2018, 08:36:55 AM »
We drove about 3300 miles in 2017.  Most of that was short city trips - a few miles to the grocery store or Costco, some longer shopping trips to the suburbs, and two longer road trips.  Our car is a 2003 Toyota Corolla with a manual transmission.

I am working on biking more to reduce the short tripping, and we've decided to keep our current car for at least another year.  So my question is, how do you maintain your older cars that drive few miles per year?  For example, our manual says oil changes every 7500 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first.  But we drive less than 2000 miles in 6 months.  Can I stretch that out?  It seems most other maintenance tasks are mileage based, so those are obviously much less frequent for us.

Phenix

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 08:52:58 AM »
We drove about 3300 miles in 2017.  Most of that was short city trips - a few miles to the grocery store or Costco, some longer shopping trips to the suburbs, and two longer road trips.  Our car is a 2003 Toyota Corolla with a manual transmission.

I am working on biking more to reduce the short tripping, and we've decided to keep our current car for at least another year.  So my question is, how do you maintain your older cars that drive few miles per year?  For example, our manual says oil changes every 7500 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first.  But we drive less than 2000 miles in 6 months.  Can I stretch that out?  It seems most other maintenance tasks are mileage based, so those are obviously much less frequent for us.

Personally, I try to stick to the owner's manual.  You shouldn't have to pay more than $20 for oil & filter on an 03 Corolla.  With as little as you drive, your maintenance costs will be minimal.  That car has a lot of life in it.  In your shoes, I would just keep up with oil changes, tires & brakes, and make sure all of your fluids are at the right levels.

nereo

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 09:37:21 AM »
Curious what others say, as we also drive our vehicle <5,000 miles/year. 
To date we've followed the 'maintenance minder' which has us changing the oil ever 12 months (roughly after 4,000 miles), but the oil always looks good given the low miles driven.  I have no idea why they recommend an upper limit of every 12 months.  Since I do it myself my annual out of pocket cost is about $25, so I just do it, but... do I need to change my oil every 6 or 12 months? 

To answer your other questions, we rotate our tires whenever we switch from our all-seasons to snow tires (we run two sets due to our location) but otherwise we do all other servicing based on mileage, which for many things can be several years (e.g. timing belt, spark plugs.  I check the fluid levels (oil, coolant, brake, transmission) almost every time I fill up, since this can sometimes be a month apart and it takes me < 60 seconds to complete (and it's an older vehicle).  The battery we replace after 3 years because it's friggen cold here in winter and a 4 year old battery - even gently used - doesn't like to start when it's -20 and the car is dead cold. Interestingly I spend more on car batteries than I do on DIY oil changes. About once-a-year I remove the air filters for the cabin and engine and check to see if they look dirty (they rarely are); i replace those maybe ever 3 years, more because they start to feel brittle than they get clogged (my owners manual says every 20,000 miles in a dirty urban environment - most of my driving is in rural areas).

acroy

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 10:04:45 AM »
^^ mostly what Nereo says

2 of my 3 cars (go ahead a face punch me I deserve it, they are my expensive art/toys/mechanical children) are driven 2-3k miles/yr.

-change oil/filter with full synth Mobile 1 every 5k. This may be 2-3yrs. Nice oil does not degrade with time. The older cheaper dino-juice may. I do it myself and use the Wally-world coupon so this is cheap.
-full inspection every 3 months: tires, filters, brakes, belts etc etc.
-Battery + all fluids (coolant, brake/clutch, power steering, diff, tranny) every 5yrs

May be a bit overkill but I enjoy the time and cost is minor.

hoping2retire35

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2018, 12:26:44 PM »
^^ mostly what Nereo says

2 of my 3 cars (go ahead a face punch me I deserve it, they are my expensive art/toys/mechanical children) are driven 2-3k miles/yr.

-change oil/filter with full synth Mobile 1 every 5k. This may be 2-3yrs. Nice oil does not degrade with time. The older cheaper dino-juice may. I do it myself and use the Wally-world coupon so this is cheap.
-full inspection every 3 months: tires, filters, brakes, belts etc etc.
-Battery + all fluids (coolant, brake/clutch, power steering, diff, tranny) every 5yrs

May be a bit overkill but I enjoy the time and cost is minor.

Just to clarify. Am I correct that this is not a typo?

405programmer

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2018, 12:42:59 PM »
Also keep an eye on all rubber items on the car. Rubber (like tires) can either wear from friction literally removing some of the material or from time where the rubber oxidizes until it becomes brittle. I wouldn't drive on any tires older than 10 years even if they only had 500 miles on them.

There's rubber all over your car in the form of belts and hoses and tie-rods. The lifespan of each of theses depends largely on environment and usage. Thankfully a lot of rubber on your car can be visually inspected. So if you see rubber starting to crack or leak fluids it is probably time to replace. Also with any older car keep in mind the level of danger if something were to break. If my AC compressor breaks while I drive down the highway then <shrug> but if my brakes fail or a tire blows out... Much bigger headache.

When you have an old car you need to periodically crawl under it and look at all this stuff. You can't see every problem that your car might develop but there are several that are easy to spot if you just look at it!

EricEng

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2018, 02:47:38 PM »
^^ mostly what Nereo says

2 of my 3 cars (go ahead a face punch me I deserve it, they are my expensive art/toys/mechanical children) are driven 2-3k miles/yr.

-change oil/filter with full synth Mobile 1 every 5k. This may be 2-3yrs. Nice oil does not degrade with time. The older cheaper dino-juice may. I do it myself and use the Wally-world coupon so this is cheap.
-full inspection every 3 months: tires, filters, brakes, belts etc etc.
-Battery + all fluids (coolant, brake/clutch, power steering, diff, tranny) every 5yrs

May be a bit overkill but I enjoy the time and cost is minor.

Just to clarify. Am I correct that this is not a typo?
Pretty sure he is correct.  I do the same with mine.  If you use Synth you can wait a lot longer, it doesn't break down nearly as fast as old dino oils did.  I put long mileage synth 10-15k miles with matching filter in my civic and only change it every 2 years (5k miles a year).  The every 6 months oil change thing is way too often, even for dino oil.  You should be pretty safe with 12 months on dino oil.  What climate are you in?  Extreme heat or cold?


HipGnosis

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2018, 04:19:44 PM »
I'm a gear-head from way back.  I've had multiple vehicles for over 40 years.  I've got a car and a pickup.   I've got 5 motorcycles (only ride 2 of them regularly).
So none of them get many miles per year.
I not only do my own maintenance, I've rebuilt engines of cars, trucks and motorcycles. I blueprinted the engine that's in my pickup - and I personally did it, other than having the heads machined.

I change all their oil at 5,000 miles, and I do it at multiples of 5,000 on each vehicles odometer.
My car gets all synthetic (volvo w/ turbo)
All the others get a blend of synthetic and regular (aka dino) oil.
25/75 for the older, stock engines
50/50 for the newer, low mile engines

I recommend the OP use name brand synthetic blended oil and changing it once a year - spring or fall.
I also recommend not making to many short trips in a row. 
 

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2018, 11:14:08 PM »
I'm in a similar situation--my '95 Corolla gets about 5k miles per year.  I know it's overkill, but I change the oil every 6 months, usually the same weekend as I change it in our van, which gets far more miles.  It's just an easy way for me to remember to do it ona  regular basis.

stashgrower

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2018, 04:03:31 AM »
Similar mileage here. Annual oil change and safety check. The other things are done by distance in the manual, unless the service garage says they need to be done on a time basis.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Car maintenance for low mileage cars
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2018, 05:30:20 AM »
My C-Max Energi says oil changes every *20,000* miles, which will take me four years. But most of those miles don't use the engine st all on my usage so it would be more like every 3000 engine miles.