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BASIC AUTO MAINTENANCE FOR MOST VEHICLES

Regular Oil Change Synthetic Oil Change Oil Filters
Coolant Service Hoses Transmission Fluid
Spark Plugs Spark Plug Wires Timing Belt
Disk Brake Pads Rear Brake Drums Air Filter
Clutch & Brake Fluid Windshield Wiper Blades Windshield Washer Fluid
Engine Belts Air Conditioning Power Steering Fluid
Tire Rotation Tire Pressure

Tire Balancing

Alignment



Always check the maintenance schedule for your particular vehicle.
These are general guidelines that apply to most vehicles!!!


Type of Service

Mileage Intervals

Why

Regular Oil Change. Use the type recommended by the manufacturer in the owner's manual for your driving conditions. Average oil for most vehicles is 10-30 wt. In extreme cold areas a 5-30 wt oil, for extreme heat and towing use a 10-40. For more information about oil.
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3,000-3,750 for changing oil, check oil levels monthly or on every fuel refill. Oil never wears out, it just gets dirty, that is why you can recycle it. Driving conditions, extreme heat and cold, as well as fuel seepage through the pistons and valves, are all factors that can cause the oil to deteriorate. This is the cheapest way to extend the life of the engine.
Synthetic Oil Change. Usually a 10-30 wt is the best under all driving conditions, but check the recommended guidelines from the manufacturer of the synthetic oil. Manufacturers generally do not have any guidelines for synthetic oil. Synthetic oil was created for use in jet engines back in the '40s. Regular oil burns up in about 20 minutes in a jet engine.
For more information about synthetic oil.
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3,750 - 25,000
depending on the recommendations of the synthetic oil manufacturer.
Same basic concerns are regular oil, it just does not break down as easily since it is not a derivative of fossil-oil based manufacturing.
Oil Filter Replacement. Use the type recommended by manufacturer in owner's manual. The best type includes an anti-drain back valve to allow quick lubrication of the upper engine on a cold start. If using synthetic oil, use the type recommended for that oil.
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With every oil change. If using synthetic oil at longer intervals, change filter at least every 7,500 miles. Extends the life of the oil and protects the engine, especially during cold starts.
Coolant Drain and Refill, use the type recommended in your owner's manual.
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Usually around 60,000+ or 5 years On vehicles made since around 1998. Older vehicles could require less mileage intervals. Check your owner's manual. If you have let your coolant go a really long time without a drain and refill, you may want to do a full pressure flush through the whole system, including the heater core and pressure testing the radiator cap. Coolant cleans and lubricates the components of the cooling system. It will get dirty from contact with metal and aluminum, extreme heat and cold and the hoses.
Coolant and Heater Hoses.
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Should be inspected with every oil change. Hoses will start to crack or leak over long period of use. Do not drive vehicle if any of these hoses break.
Transmission Fluid, drain and refill. .
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Different manufacturers are suggesting different intervals, usually 60,000-90,000. Some of the newer transmissions are sealed and do not require any service. Check your owner's manual. Fresh fluid helps maintain proper shifting and keeps the seals lubricated. Check the owner's manual for the type to use. To check fluid level, carefully follow directions in owners manual, usually engine must be at regular operating temperature
Spark Plugs.
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30,000 - 100,000 miles depending on the engine and plug type. Check owner's manual for type and intervals. Allows for complete burning of the fuel, cleaner emissions and better fuel economy. Most vehicles only require the spark to be replaced as the timing and other ignition components are computerized and set at the factory.
Spark Plug Wires, use the best you can buy.
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As needed, should be inspected with oil change. Allows the best possible spark to the plugs to complete burring of fuel and minimize misfire.
Timing Belt, use the one from the manufacturer of the vehicle.
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60,000 to 120,000, depending on the engine type and manufacturer's recommendation. It is a belt that will break totally disabling your vehicle. When it breaks on some engine types, it can also do damage to the valves or other engine components. Since the late 90s, many manufacturers do not use timing belts on many engines, be sure to check the owner's manual for your engine type and if it needs a timing belt.
Disk Brake Pads, 2 or 4 wheel.
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20,000 - 60,000 on average, but can depend on driving habits, towing uses or other factors that can create faster wear. Listen for grinding noises when braking. Have them inspected with each oil change. It is best to replace them when there is about 10-15% of the pad remaining. Safety is the main concern. However, if the pads go to metal, they will damage the metal brake rotors, which will have to be replaced adding a major expense. Rotors are the part of the wheel that the pads make contact to stop the vehicle.
Rear Brake Drum Service and Brake Shoe Replacement.
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15,000 best for cleaning and inspection. Replace shoes as needed, intervals can vary depending on driving habits and conditions. Brake shoe dust and dirt build up in the drum causing poor adjustment and contact between the shoe and drum. This creates faster wear of the front pads and uneven braking under emergency stops, especially with anti-lock braking systems.
Air Filter, use the best type possible.
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7,500 - 15,000, depending on driving habits and environmental conditions. Important for complete burning of fuel, affects mpg and engine performance. Allows for proper air/fuel mixture. Helps keep the fuel injectors and throttle body clean.
Clutch and Brake Fluid, when necessary usually refill with 3 Dot type hydraulic fluid. Check owner's manual for best type to use.
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Inspect level and quality on every oil change. When levels are low, they usually indicate the need to replace the pads or shoes, but this can also indicate a leak in the system. This fluid can also get dirty and collect water contaminating the brake fluid.
Windshield Wiper Blades, one of the most skipped maintenance items, usually discovered when it is raining. Cheap safety item.
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Inspect and replace with each oil change or as needed. Major safety item, don't forget them!!!! Can easily be cleaned at every fuel fill, just wipe them with a wet paper towel to get grim off of them.
Windshield Washer Fluid, only buy fluids recommended for this purpose, very inexpensive. Do not use water, can freeze and ruin the system.
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Top off with every oil change. Major safety item, keep the reservoir filled.
Power Steering Fluid, use recommended fluids in owners manual.
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Some manufacturers do not suggest replacing this fluid, so it may not be listed in your maintenance schedule. Inspect level on every oil change, there are max and min levels. Can cause damage to power steering system and failure of steering system.
Engine Belts.
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Inspect on every oil change, for signs of dryness or cracks. If getting too dry, can start to squeal or make other similar noises. Can disable the engine, steering, ac or electrical systems.
Air Conditioning System.
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Inspect system yearly, especially if you do not use your AC system much during the year. If not used occassionally, the seals can dry out causing freon leaks. Freon never goes bad, AC system failures are due to leaks or system failure.
Tire Rotation.
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3,750 - 7,500, depending on recommendations in owner's manual and vehicle type. Mini-vans and trucks usually need rotation at 3,7500. Regular vehicles between 5,000 -7,500. Allows for even tire wear to extend life of tire and for maximum safety and handling.
Inspecting Tire Pressure, check owner's manual for proper pressure for your vehicle type. Do not fill tires to maximum recommended on tire unless it matches pressure recommendations in owner's manual.
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Monthly or on every fuel refill. Allows for even tire wear to extend life of tire and safety when braking for straight stops.
Tire Balancing, actually this is a repair, usually needed due to losing balancing weights on rims from hitting something like a pothole.
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If needed, main symptom is a vibration in the steering wheel at a specific speed range - for instance, 30-35 mph. Allows for even tire wear to extend life of tire.
Alignment, a repair situation due to hitting something, not a maintenance though many dealerships suggest a yearly service.
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If needed, main symptom is pulling in one direction and a smooth tire wear pattern on the inside or outside of the tire. Allows for even tire wear to extend life of tire. It is recommended to have an alignment check when installing new tires, then have an alignment done if the check shows a problem.
Review Owner's Manual for other needs.
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Copyright, 2002, J. Daniel Emmanuel


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