Understanding Your Car Maintenance Schedule

Auto makers finally have figured out how to make their cars travel farther between regular maintenance appointments, but the new schedules are confusing some car-owners. What's a car owner to do?

Check each car part, fluid, tire...

Oil: In the old days, oil was changed every 3,000 miles or every 3 months. But today, how you drive matters almost as much as how far you drive: Short trips, frequent cold starts, towing a trailer, or driving in dusty conditions require a shorter oil-change interval. Many dashboard-mounted oil-wear indicators calculate the remaining oil life based on your driving habits. Always buy the recommended grade and weight of oil.

Filters: Filters for the air intake, fuel, oil, and cabin air all need periodic replacement.

Fluids: Power steering, brakes, automatic transmissions, windshield washers, and coolant must be kept full with appropriate fluid, and periodically flushed. Low brake fluid signals a leak that requires immediate attention.

Hoses: Replace a cracked or bulging hose immediately.

Belts: Both V-belts, also know as fan belts, and serpentine belts need periodic checkups. Replace the timing belt when the manufacturer recommends or risk ruining your engine.

Brakes: When your car is up on a rack for other maintenance, get a brake inspection.

Tires: A dashboard tire-pressure warning light is probably less accurate than a pencil-type tire gauge. Check monthly, or before any long trip, to save gas, tire wear, and perhaps an accident.

Tie rod ends and constant velocity (CV) joints: Get periodic inspection. A torn CV boot can permit grit to enter and cause damage.

Battery: The connections should be clean and tight, and the mounting solid.

Wipers: Windshield wipers eventually will be damaged by ultraviolet light. Trust your eye—when the wiper is streaking water on your windshield, it's probably time to replace your wipers. Remember the rear wiper if you have one.

Tune-up & Routine Maintenance

Many new cars go 60,000 to 105,000 miles between "tune-ups," which usually require only a new set of spark plugs. Manufacturers set schedules for periodic maintenance, and these are the only reliable guide to what your car needs. Bring your owner's manual to make sure you don't get more service than you need.

If frequent repairs have you thinking you'd rather have a different vehicle, HUECU can help with all your auto financing needs. For more information check out our Auto Buying Help Center or view one of our Interactive Coaches. You can also stop by any of our branch locations, email us or call us at (617) 495-4460.


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