How to Create a Maintenance Timeline for Your Vehicle

If you want to see your car hit 150,000 miles (or even 300,000), you’ll have to perform regular maintenance on your car every so often. This doesn’t necessarily mean taking the engine apart every 20,000 miles and wiping everything down, but it does mean treating your car to a little TLC from time to time.

Unless you’re car junkie though, the idea of performing any kind of maintenance on your car can be a challenge. To help out with that, here’s a rough timeline of just about everything you’ll need to do from the moment you drive it off the lot to the time you trade it in for a newer model.

1. 3,000 Miles – Change the Oil

Ideally, this should be done every 3,000-5,000 miles over the life of the vehicle, unless you decide to use synthetic oil, in which case you can change it every 5,000-7,000. It’ll certainly cost more to change it initially, but the cost savings in changing it a fewer amount of times should help offset the cost, and some people argue that it’s better for the health of the car overall.

2. 30,000 Miles – Get a Tune-Up

During a tune-up, the mechanic generally checks all the hoses and belts to make sure nothing is loose or cracked. If so, they’ll be able to replace it for you on-site so as to keep it from failing somewhere else. They’ll also usually check and replace the fluids found in the car, such as coolant, power steering, windshield wiper fluid, etc.

3. 50,000 Miles – Check the Shocks

The shocks and struts inside your car are the main components responsible for the way your car handles and travels over bumps in the road. As you would expect, 50,000 miles of road travel cause them to wear down, making for a potentially hazardous situation. Even if they don’t replace the shocks or struts (which is unlikely), they will check to make sure they’re wearing properly and that you don’t have any break in the seal which can leak oil.

4. 60,000 Miles – Replace the Timing belt

Around the same time that you have your shocks and struts checked, ask your mechanic to look at the timing belt as well. If you don’t know what a timing belt is, pop open the hood and look for the big belt that rotates in the front of your engine, keeping the top half in sync with the bottom half. If this belt is worn down or stretched, it can throw your engine out of rhythm and potentially wreak havoc on your car. Getting it checked or replaced is inexpensive and can be a life-saver.

5. 70,000 Miles – Service the Fuel Pump

Not long after you check the previous two items, check the fuel and water pumps as well. The fuel pump helps regulate the amount of fuel that goes into the engine, while the water pump keeps the engine from overheating. A spike in engine temperature or stalling noise in your car can indicate one of these is failing.

6. 80,000 Miles – Replace the Battery

Unless you have a dud, your battery should last about as long as your pumps. Still, it’s a good idea to check or even repair this item around the 80,000-mile mark, which makes for about six years of driving. If you have to replace it, look for one that is right for the weather in your area.

7. 90,000 Miles – Second Tune-Up

At about the 90,000-mile mark, bring your car in for the same type of checks that they did 60,000 miles ago just to make sure everything is still operational. A thorough tune-up can bring everything up to speed as well as spot potential problems.

8. 100,000 Miles – Evaluate Engine and Transmission

Though you shouldn’t necessarily have to replace the engine or transmission at this point, 100,000 miles is a good time to have the whole system properly evaluated to check for issues. The best way to protect your car is to be proactive, and since the engine and transmission represent the biggest (and most expensive) parts of your car, a thorough check is necessary to prevent catastrophic failures.

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