Vehicle Maintenance Chart

Vehicle Maintenance Service Intervals

R=Replace

I=Inspect

I/R=Inspect then Replace if needed.

This schedule is appropriate for most American, European and Japanese automobiles. Information and instructions in your owner’s manual supersede this repair schedule. This guide is meant to supplement the manufacturer recommendations for your specific vehicle, and should not replace such recommendations. This is not meant for vehicle troubleshooting, repair advice or to replace the manufacturers service intervals.


 
Explanations of Recommendations:

Click any of the service components below for a detailed explanation of the service recommendation.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INSPECTION & REPLACEMENT

15k

20k

25k

30k

35k

40k

45k

50k

60k

1.Air Filter

R

I

I

R

I

I

R

I

R

2.Antifreeze/Coolant

I

R

I

R

3.Battery/Battery Load

I

I

I

I/R

I

I

I

I

I/R

4.Belts

I

I/R

I

I/R

5.Brake Pads/Fluid

I

I

I

I/R

I

I

I

I

I/R

6.Differential

I

R

I

R

7.Fuel Filter

I

I

I

R

I

I

I

I

R

8.Radiator Hoses

I

I

I

R

I

I

I

I

R

9.Engine Oil

R

R

R

R

R

R

R

R

R

10.Power Steering Fluid

I/R

I/R

11.Shocks & Struts

I/R

R

12.Spark Plugs

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

13.Ignition cables

I/R

I/R

14.Tire Rotate

I/R

I/R

I/R

I/R

I/R

I/R

I/R

I/R

I/R

15.Transmission Fluid

I

I

I

R

I

I

I

I

R

16.Wiper Blades

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

17.Washer Fluid

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

18.Exterior Care

I

I

I

I

I

R

I

I

I

19.Timing Belt

I/R

20.Exterior Lights

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

21.AC System

I

I

I

22.Steering & Suspension

I

I

I

23.CV Boots & U-Joints

I

I

I

1. Air filter

Inspect:Check to see if air filter is dirty. A dirty air filter can reduce engine performance and fuel economy.
Replace:You should have the air filter replaced about every 15,000 miles for normal driving conditions.
Back to Chart

2. Cooling System

Inspect:the coolant reservoir. If the fluid level appears low it could cause your engine to overheat. It is suggested that you have your vehicle inspect by an automotive technician immediately. For winter and summer you should inspect the coolant boiling point and freeze point with a hydrometer. Another inspection that can be done is a cooling system hydrocarbon test. This test is only necessary if you’re having overheating issues or coolant consumption other than a external leak.
Replace:Drain and flush old coolant from the radiator and reservoir bottle. Inspect the heater, radiator hoses and clamps for replacement, and install a new radiator cap. A vented replacement radiator cap safely removes hot steam from the radiator and makes emergency road side coolant inspections easier and safer.
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3. Battery

Inspect:terminals and cables, loose or dirty battery cables are a common “no start” condition. Cable ends and battery terminals should be cleaned with a wire brush or light sand paper periodically to remove any corrosion. For excessive corrosion use baking soda and water “a spray bottle works best” Battery “load” is how much load or drain can be placed on the electrical system before the battery begins to discharge itself. Think of it as the amount of electricity the battery can store before having to be recharged. It is not uncommon for batteries to go completely “flat” or discharge without ever giving any warning signs. If the battery is over 2 years old, have an automotive technician check the condition and load levels at every oil change interval to ensure it won’t leave you unexpectedly stranded. A weak battery that is not storing enough power, will cause the alternator to work harder and possibly cause premature alternator failure. Dirty or corroded battery terminals can also severely reduce the lifespan of the battery and alternator.
Replace:When replacing the battery, use the same type of cable connections, battery size, and electrical capacity as the original battery.
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4. Belts

Inspect: Check for worn or loose belts. Check the tension on each belt, and see if anything is rubbing or coming in contact with it. If the belts are noisy, do not spray silicone or WD40-type chemicals on them. It will usually make it worse.
Replace:Have the belts replaced if they are frayed, cracked, or worn on the edges.
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5. Brakes/Pads

Inspect:brake pads and shoe wear periodically. Don’t wait until you they begin to grind before having them checked.
Replace:Here are some signs that your brakes need to be replaced: You can hear a grinding noise when the brakes are applied. The steering wheel shakes when the brakes are applied. Your vehicle requires more than 2 oz. of brake fluid to the reservoir. The brake pedal feels soft or squishy. The brake pedal goes to the floor slowly when the brakes are applied.
Brake Fluid
Inspect:Check the brake fluid level. The fluid level should only need to be slightly topped off occasionally. If more than 2 oz. of fluid is needed, the brake system should be inspected for leaks and component wear. Add only the recommended type of brake fluid as listed in the owner’s manual. Do not add any other fluid to the brake fluid reservoir, and keep all foreign objects and fingers out of the fluid. The fluid in the reservoir should be clear in appearance and free of dirt and debris.
Replace:Brake fluid retains moisture and should be flushed and re-bled (the air removed from the system) to keep brakes working effectively.
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6. Differential Fluid

Inspect:The differential fluid should be checked during each routine oil change and topped off as needed with the fluid prescribed in the owner’s manual.
Replace:Drain and flush the differential fluid periodically to remove any metal filings that have normally accumulated in the differential housing.Add any recommended supplemental additive prescribed in the owner’s manual.
Back to Chart

7. Fuel Filter

Inspect:Check the fuel filters. They will become clogged with dirt and debris during normal operation.
Replace:Replacing the fuel filter should extend the life of the fuel pump life, increase engine performance, and aid in fuel economy.
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8. Radiator/Hoses

Inspect:When checking for leaks or bulges, make sure the engine is cold. Squeeze the radiator hoses with one hand at all points along the hose. If soft spots, bulges, or a “cracking feeling” is identified, replace ALL water hoses at the same time.
Replace:Replace all water hoses, radiator hoses, heater, bypass, coolant, and radiator cap at this time.
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9. Engine Oil

Inspect:Check oil level when engine is cold and with vehicle on level ground.
Replace:When changing engine oil, you should also check all fluids, air filter, belts, hoses, tires and air pressure, as well as the condition of the spare tire. This is also a great time to clean the corrosion from the battery cables. Check the Owner’s Manual for specific oil recommendation.
Back to Chart

10. Power Steering Fluid

Inspect:Check the power steering fluid level. It should be pink or clear in color. Only a very small amount of fluid is needed to top off fluid level. If more than 2 oz. is needed, have the system checked for leaks or wear.
Replace:Power steering fluid just like any other fluid becomes dirty and contaminated and should be replaced with clean fluid periodically. Dirty power steering fluid can cause the power steering pump or the power steering gear assemblies to fail and can cause premature wear to occur.
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11. Shock Absorbers/Struts

Inspect:Check for fluid leaks around the shocks. Some shocks are filled with oil and a visible fluid leak can be detected. Here are some indications that the shocks might be worn or damaged. Your vehicle rides excessive bumpy. Your vehicle leans or sways in one direction more than normal when turning or brakes are applied.
Replace:Replace all four shocks/struts at the same time to get maximum benefit and drivability.
In some cases a wheel alignment should be performed after new struts are installed.
Back to Chart

12. Spark Plugs

Inspect:Worn or faulty spark plugs can cause misfire, poor fuel mileage, loss of power, and slow or extended starting time.
Replace:Spark plugs and spark plug wires should be replaced at the same time.
Back to Chart

13. Ignition Cables

Replace:Spark plugs and spark plug wires should be replaced at the same time to obtain maximum performance and life expectancy of spark plugs.
Back to Chart

14. Tires

Inspect:Check pressure and tread wear. Check air pressure when cold unless otherwise described in the owner’s manual. Inspect tires for uneven tread wear, punctures, bulges, or cuts in sidewall of the tire. Routine rotation and balancing can greatly extend the life of your tires. Most front end “shake and shimmy” complaints can be attributed to out of balance, or out of round tires. Ask the automotive technician if he would inspect the brakes for free when rotating and balance tires.
Replace:Tires should be replaced if you discover uneven tread wear, punctures, bulges, or cuts in the sidewall.
Back to Chart

15. Transmission Fluid

Inspect:Put the vehicle in park and start the engine. Check the transmission fluid level while the vehicle is running, once it gets hot. Check your owner’s manual for proper fluid type and proper fluid level inspection procedures. Automatic transmission fluid is usually pink in color. Most standard “stick” shift transmissions will have a drain plug to service the fluid. Some stick shift transmissions use engine oil as a lubricant; consult your owner’s manual when servicing. It could also be a good idea to have the replacement fluid type information available for the repair shop.
Replace:Consult vehicle owner manual for proper fluid type and service interval. If applicable, replace the internal automatic transmission filter or clean the re-usable screen when changing the transmission fluid. A transmission pan gasket will also be required during the filter change. Some newer model vehicles require special additives. Consult your owner’s manual
Back to Chart

16.Wiper Blades

Inspect:Check wiper blades for wear during a regular oil and filter change. Don’t make the mistake of never thinking about replacing or inspecting the wiper blades until you really need them.
Replace:Some wiper blades are different lengths for driver and passenger side. Measure the old blades before replacing with new ones. Some manufactures offer different replacement wiper blade types (i.e. for snow and ice, off road, and severe duty).
Back to Chart

17. Washer Fluid

Inspect:Check windshield washer fluid level.
Replace:Anti-freezing and water repelling additives can also be added to the washer fluid reservoir when replacing. Not only will washer fluid aid in removing dirt from the windshield, but also it will act as a lubricant to prolong the life of the wiper blade. Adding rubbing alcohol to the washer fluid can be harmful to the rubber on the wiper blades.
Back to Chart

18. Exterior Care

Regular car washes can remove air borne chemicals through “acid rain” that get deposited onto the paint surface, and dull the layer of “clear coating” that is meant to protect the paint and help promote shine and luster. Car wash soap should be used and not dish or household soaps, as their chemical makeup can damage the clear coat. Semi-annual waxing of the exterior paint surface will help to protect this important clear coat.
Back to Chart

19. Timing Belt

Inspect:Wear on timing belt is not easily visible and replacement time’s are not on visual like a normal drive belt. Timing belt should be replaced at the factory indicated mileage. Replace as scheduled if applicable for your vehicle. Timing belts are commonly used on Japanese cars. The timing belt is a rubber belt that drives the engine’s internal components. If the timing belt breaks, the engine stops and costly internal engine damage can occur ONLY if the engine is an interference engine. The water pump on some vehicles is driven by the timing belt, and should be replaced when replacing the timing belt. Consult owner’s manual or ask the repair shop if this is the case on your car. If you do not know the last time your timing belt was replace or wither or not your engine is an interference motor. Call your local automotive repair facility and schedule an appointment for inspection.
Replace:Timing belt replacement should only be done by a professional repair technician. If you do not know one go to our Business Listings section to locate and review a repair facility near you.
Back to Chart

20. Exterior Lights

Save yourself the hassle of failing a vehicle inspection or being pulled over by the police for a tail or brake light bulb out. Have all lights checked when performing a regular engine oil change.
Back to Chart

21. A/C Refrigerant Level

Air conditioning refrigerant commonly known as “Freon” should be checked for proper pressures and level of refrigerant oil periodically. Low Freon and refrigerant oil levels can cause premature wear on air compressors, and decrease overall performance of the a/c system. Although the a/c system is a sealed unit, it is not uncommon to have to add small amounts of refrigerant (Freon) periodically due to small leaks and seepage. Freon is a gas that is under high pressure and should only be serviced by a trained professional.
Back to Chart

22. CV Boots/Joints

Inspect:Used mostly on front wheel drive cars, Constant Velocity (CV) joints are shafts that connect the transmission to the wheels with knuckle joints on either end of the shaft. The shafts provide the power to turn the wheels by linking the transmission to the wheel. There are two shafts and four joints on most front wheel drive cars. CV boots are made of pliable rubber to cover the CV joint. Torn CV boots allow grease meant to lubricate the joint to escape, and allows dirt and debris to enter inside the joint. A worn CV joint usually produces a clicking noise from the wheel area on hard turns.
Back to Chart

23.Drive Shaft/U-Joints

Inspect:Rear wheel drive cars and trucks have drive shafts in place of CV joints that are found on front wheel drive cars. The drive shaft links the transmission to the rear differential to provide power to turn the wheels. Most drive shafts have two or three U-joints connecting the shaft to the transmission and rear differential. The shaft and joints should be checked for wear during regular engine oil changes. Some U-joints can and should be greased during the “grease job” portion of the oil change.

This post was written by: Martin Hand

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Martin Hand

About Martin Hand

ASE Certified L1 Advanced Mastertech. Martin Hand has over 15 years experience in Asian and European Import Auto Repair. Specializing in electrical diagnosis, engine performance, AT/MT transmission repair/rebuild. Martin is also pursuing a degree in Computers Science & Information Systems starting at Portland Community College while he plans to transfer to OIT. Certified in Java application level programming, experienced with other languages such as PHP, Ruby, JavaScript and Swift. Martin has future plans of automotive diagnostic software development.

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