ExecutiveChronicles | How Often Should I Do Car Maintenance? | Next to a home, your car is likely one of the most important investments you’ll make. Although vehicle maintenance requires time and money, it will help prevent major repair costs down the road. But how often is car maintenance required, and what exactly does it involve?
As a family-owned business that’s served the Portland area for over 50 years, the car experts at Beaverton Toyota are here to offer a few tips. Below you will find the most common maintenance required on your vehicle and how often it should be performed. Whether you buy new or used, proper maintenance is necessary to ensure you have safe and reliable transportation for the life of your vehicle.
An oil change is one of the most common and regularly scheduled maintenance tasks your car requires. As motor oil works its way through your vehicle’s engine, it eventually accumulates dirt and other debris, which will cause the oil to thicken and become less efficient over time. Eventually, old motor oil will reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. If left too long, dirty oil can lead to bigger problems and seriously impact the functionality of your vehicle’s engine.
Older cars typically require oil changes every 5,000 miles, but newer cars are designed to use oil more efficiently and need fewer changes. Toyota, for example, recommends oil changes based on time or mileage. Either every 10,000 miles or once per year for engines using 5w-30 synthetic motor oil. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine the manufacturer’s recommended schedule for oil changes and contact your Toyota dealer to schedule an appointment.
Tire rotations are another important aspect of routine car maintenance. Tire rotations are typically recommended every 6 months or 5,000. A tire rotation consists of switching each tire to a different position on the vehicle. Rotating your tires helps spread wear on your tires evenly across all four tires so that they each last longer. Even wear on your tires helps improve traction, cornering, and braking. Properly rotated tires also help reduce wear and stress on your vehicle’s drivetrain. Tire rotations are also a good time to visually inspect your tires for damage on a routine basis.
Fluid Level Inspections
In addition to motor oil, experts recommend regularly checking other fluids such as brake, transmission, windshield washer, and transmission fluids. Transmission fluid is checked with a dipstick, but the other fluids can be visually inspected. Engine coolant, washer fluid, and brake fluid are all contained within transparent containers with an indicator line to show whether it is low or filled to the proper level.
Unlike motor oil, your vehicle’s other fluids do not need to be changed as often. Depending on the make, model and year of the vehicle, brake fluid, engine coolant, and transmission fluid should be changed approximately every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. While draining and replacing these fluids can be done at home, many people opt to have an automotive technician perform the task. Service center technicians can flush fluids more easily and with much less mess.
Engine coolant circulates through your vehicle’s radiator and is responsible for keeping the engine at the proper temperature. Overheating can occur when there is not enough coolant present and can lead to significant damage to your engine.
Typically, brake fluid should be flushed every 2 years or every 30,000 miles, but some manufacturers recommend every 3 years or 45,000 miles. Like oil, brake fluid can become contaminated and result in your braking system operating more poorly than intended.
Transmission fluid is crucial. It is typically recommended that you change your vehicle’s transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles (depending on manufacturers’ recommendations). Unlike engine coolant and brake fluid, most vehicles’ transmission fluid is checked using a dipstick near the back of the engine. Clean transmission fluid is pink; old transmission fluid is darker red or even brown. So, if you notice a significant deepening color in your transmission fluid, be sure to get it changed.
As windshield wipers are necessary when visibility is reduced due to rain or snow, wiper blades should be checked routinely for wear. Streaked windows or noisy wipers are good indicators that it’s time for replacement.
Air filters should be changed at least every 30,000 miles, but depending on the air quality in your area, they may need to be replaced more often. Most vehicles now have two air filters: one for the engine and one for the vehicle’s cabin. Filters on some vehicles are easy to change. The location of some vehicles’ air filters is difficult to reach and easier for a service center to replace.
Brake Pads and Rotors
Brake pads are built to last for 50,000 miles, but routine checks during tire rotations are a good way to ensure your vehicle continues to brake properly. If you notice any grinding, high-pitch squeals, or other noises, be sure to check your brake pads for excessive wear. Most service centers offer brake pad inspections as part of their oil change/tire rotation packages. This is also a common time for them to spot-check your vehicle’s fluid levels. Rotors should typically be replaced or resurfaced every 60,000 miles.
On average, batteries are built to last about five years. Because batteries tend to die without warning once they’ve lost their full charge, it’s a good idea to replace your battery after five years, even if it is still working. A service center, or even an automotive parts store, can test your battery periodically if you are unable to check it yourself.
Check Engine Light
Although it goes without saying, it is crucial to your safety and the functionality of your vehicle to bring it to a certified mechanic whenever the check engine light comes on. There are dozens of reasons for your vehicle’s check engine light to come on, and a repair shop can diagnose and fix the issue. Regular maintenance can help a car owner avoid a lot of expensive repairs and ensure the vehicle stays in proper working condition. Keeping your vehicle up to date on scheduled maintenance can also help boost its resale or trade-in value.
The team at Beaverton Toyota is available to help answer any maintenance questions you may have, and their service department is open six days a week. From oil changes to check engine light repairs, Beaverton Toyota will help your vehicle stay on the road.