Here is a schedule of recommended vehicle maintenance. The schedule may vary on certain models, and can change dramatically based on driving style and conditions, but is a good rule of thumb for the average car or truck on the road.
Every 3000 miles or 3 months:
Change oil and filter and inspect vehicle. A good quality oil (such as Castrol) and an original equipment oil filter (Delco for GM products, Motorcraft for Ford, Toyota for Toyota, etc) is highly recommended. Every oil change service should include a multi-point inspection to keep tabs on the vehicle’s wear and upcoming required maintenance. Note: if you use synthetic oil (such as Mobil 1), the service interval can extend to 5000 miles or 5 months. Some manufacturers say newer vehicles can have even longer intervals in theory, but this is not recommended in actuality. Longer intervals between oil changes causes the oil to break down and not function properly (in both a lubricating and cooling capacity), and will cause engine lifespan to decrease.
Every 12,000 miles or 12 months:
Depending on driving conditions, it is recommended that the air filter be changed at least once per year, if not more often. Not changing an air filter allows dirt and other contamination to pass into the engine and onto sensors, which decrease their functionality.
Every 24,000 miles or 24 months:
-Brake fluid flush
-Transmission service (replace transmission filter and gasket and refill fluid) or flush (power flush; a complete fluid exchange); suggest alternating between the two at each interval
-Coolant drain and refill
-Power steering flush
Every 36,000 to 60,000 miles, depending on wear:
-Complete proper brake job. We measure brake lining in 1/32”, and record this measurement at each oil change. New brakes can be anywhere from 8/32” to 15/32”, depending on application. The average driver in this area wears out about 1/32” between each oil service, so the first brake job will fall somewhere in this mileage span, depending on wear rate. When brake lining gets below 2/32”, it’s a good idea to get ready for a brake job, as any measurement lower than that can quickly cause extra wear in the brake rotors, which is an added expense to replace as part of a brake job. A proper brake job includes: replacing brake pads with an original-equipment grade A or better pad set, rebuilding or replacing brake caliper assemblies (these are what squeeze the pads against the rotors and slow down a car; if they wear out they can cause the pads to wear unevenly or damage the rotors), machining or replacing the rotors (there is a minimum legal thickness on brake rotors, and when they’re too thin, they have to be replaced), flushing the brake fluid, bleeding and adjustments. For drum brakes, a proper repair entails replacing brake shoes, wheel cylinders, hardware, flushing, bleeding, and adjusting.
Every 60,000 miles or 60 months:
-Complete tune up (replace spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor if equipped, PCV valve, air filter, fuel filter). It is also recommended that a compression test be performed on the engine before starting this repair, as it would be pointless to tune an engine with low compression.
-Induction Service (chemical flush and cleaning of the fuel and intake systems). This cleans out carbon deposits left by gasoline in the internal engine components, and typically increases fuel mileage and performance.
-Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor. The sensor lies behind the air filter, and over time accumulates debris that causes the sensor to read inaccurately, thereby changing the air/fuel mixture in the engine detrimentally. Cleaning this sensor increases its lifespan and allows for a proper air/fuel mixture.
Every 60,000 to 90,000 miles:
Manufacturer-recommended intervals vary, but this is the typical range for having the following repairs done:
-Replace timing belt, accessory belts, water pump, tensioners and pulleys. On some engines (called “interference engines”), if the timing belt breaks, it can bend valves in the engine, which requires a major valve job and cylinder head repair. Replacing the timing belt at the proper interval prevents this from occurring.
Every 90,000 miles:
-Complete cooling system: replace all coolant hoses (radiator hoses, heater hoses, bypass hoses, oil and transmission cooler hoses if equipped), replace thermostat and gasket, and radiator cap. The cooling system and coolant / antifreeze protects the engine from overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter, so keeping it properly maintained will prevent drastic damage.
Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you!