How closely do I need to adhere to my car’s maintenance schedule?

Question:

Do auto manufacturers suggest maintenance checks just so that their service departments can make money?

Answer:

Every auto and truck manufacturer recommends a maintenance schedule customized for its own vehicles. This month (April) is National Car Care Month, so it’s a good time to consider how well you are adhering to that schedule. You might think the schedule is overly demanding, with too many expensive procedures in too short of a time, but the manufacturers’ reputations are at stake. A happy customer is likelier to return, and we have never seen an “overly aggressive” maintenance schedule

  • You can find the maintenance schedule in your owner’s handbook. While some people tend to tuck the book into their glove compartments and then forget about it, we recommend you consider transferring some of those maintenance dates into your smartphone’s calendar, with a handy alert.
  • Mileage intervals for maintenance vary greatly by manufacturer. They also vary by your driving habits (“normal” or “severe”) and the type of oil used. There are about a dozen things you should check or maintain at every oil change interval. A few things you should check every six months include your wiper blades, belts and battery. At 12 months, check your brakes, spare tire pressure and cabin air filter. The big services are usually at 30,000-mile intervals. They include fluid exchange services on all your car’s major components (transmission, brake system, power steering, differential, etc.) These bigger, more expensive services are designed to prevent the catastrophic and expensive failure of major components so you can drive your car well past 200,000 miles.
  • You can have any reputable auto shop perform the maintenance, not just the dealer. Your car’s warranty will remain in effect.

Bottom line: The easiest way to keep track of your car’s maintenance requirements is to let your favorite repair shop do it. That way, the appropriate schedule can be selected to match the severity of your vehicle’s environment. At Lake Arbor Automotive, we pride ourselves in notifying our customers when their vehicles are due for work.