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The Routine Maintenance Needs for Cars by Mileage

By TheCarzingTeam August 22, 2022 | Car News

Car News

Owning a car comes with additional costs beyond just the monthly car payment, insurance needs and fuel. Cars need to be properly maintained to ensure they can withstand the wear and tear of driving and don’t break down prematurely.

Routine Maintenance Needs for Cars by Mileage

Some cars are reliable and are known to hit 200K miles without issue, but even these cars still need car and routine checkups. To get the most life out of an automobile, look to the odometer to schedule routine maintenance appointments that can ensure that little issues don’t spiral into more expensive mechanical issues. Here are the most common maintenance needs of vehicles by mileage milestones.

Routine Maintenance Needs for Cars

Every 3,000 to 10,000 Miles: Change the Oil and Check all Fluids

For older vehicles, oil changes were recommended every 3,000 miles. However, Kelley Blue Book reports that many cars now can drive 5,000 to 10,000 miles between oil changes. While modern vehicles might be able to go longer between oil changes, car owners should consult their owner manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Routine oil changes can ensure the car runs smoothly; in addition, dirty or old oil might lead to decreased fuel efficiency. An oil level that’s too low could lead to a seized engine, which, ultimately, could be a very costly repair.

At oil change appointments, technicians or mechanics also will inspect other fluid levels. They will let car owners know about any low fluid levels.

Car owners should pay attention to the sticker on the left hand of their windshield that denotes the next oil change. Most cars also include a warning light that alerts drivers about the need for an oil change.

Every 5,000 to 8,000 Miles: Rotate the Tires

Consumer Reports explains that tire rotations should be scheduled every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. However, many car owners might make this maintenance need more simplistic by rotating the tires at every oil change.

Routine Maintenance Needs for Cars

Every 15,000 to 30,000 Miles (or Yearly): Change the Engine Air Filter

A dirty air filter could impact the acceleration of the vehicle. According to Jiffy Lube, car owners should change their engine’s air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. To ensure that the filter isn’t an issue, have it checked once a year. In addition, some owners might need to change the filter before these mileage milestones; driving habits also impact this maintenance need.

Every 10,000 to 20,000 Miles: Swap out the Brake Pads

The brake pads are essential, and car owners do not want to deal with these pads getting too thin or worn. Depending on driving habits, some car owners could need to change their pads more frequently. However, most experts recommend that car owners should change their vehicle’s brake pads every 10,000 to 20,000 miles.

While the mileage milestone is noted by some, Family Handyman explains that mechanics denote that a brake pad thickness of 3 to 4 millimeters signals that it’s time to swap them for new pads. Squeaking brakes is one telltale sign that the pads are worn.

Routine Maintenance Needs for Cars

Every Few Years (or Every 45,000 Miles): Change the Brake Fluid

New brake fluid is a maintenance need to ensure the braking isn’t impacted (braking could be slower). According to Jiffy Lube, this fluid should be replaced every few years or every 45,000 miles. Each manufacturer, though, could have their own recommendation; car owners should check their manual to understand these recommendations.

Every 30,000 Miles: Flush the Coolant

The coolant fluid for a vehicle is contained in a reservoir. Unless there is a leak or the structural integrity of the reservoir is somehow compromised, the coolant level should stay consistent. However, car owners need to flush the coolant regularly to ensure that the fluid stays fresh and the car doesn’t overheat. 

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) explains that the coolant needs to be flushed every 30,000 miles or every other year. In addition, KBB explains that this service also allows technicians to make sure the coolant system isn’t damaged; while the reservoir could be a site of a leak, hoses also could wear down and leak, too.

Routine Maintenance Needs for Cars

Every 30,000 to 40,000 Miles: Change the Transmission Fluid

The transmission system also requires fluid to operate properly. However, this maintenance appointment is much less frequent. While the timing of a transmission flush can depend on a vehicle (and/or the recommendations of the manufacturer), AutoZone also explains that towing could require truck owners to change this fluid more frequently

The company notes that changing the fluid too often won’t cause any issues, but the common timing of a transmission flush is every 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

Every 50,000 Miles: Change the Power Steering Fluid

Changing or flushing the power steering fluid won’t necessarily be required for every vehicle. Again, owners should consult their manual for any recommendations. A Toyota dealership recommends changing the steering fluid in a Toyota every two years or every 50,000 miles

However, Advance Auto Parts explains that there isn’t universal agreement as to when this maintenance is needed—it could vary from 24,000 miles to 100,000 miles. The car manual might be the best resource for this particular maintenance need.

Routine Maintenance Needs for Cars

Every 70,000 Miles: Change the Brake Rotors

The brake pads and the fluid both need routine maintenance. However, about every 70,000 miles, the rotors also need to be replaced. The site Mechanic Base explains that when car owners feel vibrations/shaking or hear some louder noises when hitting the brakes, it’s time to change the rotors. 

The site also explains that any grooves or cracks on rotors also indicate they need to be swapped. When having brake pads changed, car owners also could ask their mechanic to check the rotors, too. Car owners also can look at their rotors to determine if they need to be replaced.

Every 100,000 Miles: Change the Spark Plugs

Without the spark plugs, the engine won’t power correctly. If this part is dying, car owners might notice a few signs: noisy idling, issues starting the car, poor acceleration and compromised fuel efficiency. Jiffy Lube notes that typically the check engine light also will illuminate, giving car owners a visual indicator that something is amiss. KBB explains that spark plugs aren’t a costly replacement.

Common Car Replacements without Mileage Markers

Some car issues don’t have any mileage markers and could come without warning. Over time, a car battery will eventually deplete and need to be replaced. When the battery is dead or drained, car owners won’t be able to start the engine.

Tires also could wear down with excessive driving, and issues on the road (like a piece of metal) could cause those tires to go flat and need to be replaced. The cost of tires varies per vehicle; some car owners also might select higher-end tires.

Another issue that could arise with any car is that the air conditioning compressor fails. Unfortunately, this issue might arise during the heat of the summer. If the air isn’t blowing cold, there could be an issue with the compressor. Most compressors should endure for about a decade, so this could be a problem faced by those with older cars.

Consult the Owner’s Manual for Service Recommendations

These are not all the service needs that every vehicle will require in its lifetime; every make/model might have issues that arise unexpectedly. In addition, manufacturers might have their own guidelines related to maintenance needs. Car owners should consult their car’s owner manual to better understand these recommendations and ensure that they schedule the necessary appointments to keep their car in the best condition possible.

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