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Car Service Essentials Maintenance Milestones

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Basic maintenance schedule for the average car
Following a car maintenance schedule can help prevent major car problems before they occur, as well as boost your car’s resale value if you keep a record of its service history. Most car components ought to be inspected, changed, or replaced at 30,000-mile intervals, but a handful of other components require attention on a more frequent basis.

Frequent maintenance items
Your engine oil and oil filter are two of the most important parts of your car and must be changed regularly. According to AAA Automotive, older cars using traditional oil typically require more frequent changes that vary based on driving conditions. However, AAA says that “newer cars are equipped with oil-life monitoring systems that automatically determine when an oil change is needed,” enabling you to drive worry-free until the car gives you an alert. Consult your owner’s manual for more guidelines on oil change intervals.

Every 30,000 miles
Approximately every 30,000 miles, there are two major car components you should change: the air filter and the fuel filter. According to CarsDirect, an online automotive research portal, the top reason to change your air filter is to increase fuel efficiency. “Some studies indicate that replacing a dirty air filter increases fuel mileage on older, carbureted cars by as much as 14 percent if the filter is so dirty it affects drivability,” CarsDirect says. Changing the air filter will also reduce your emissions as well as extend the life of your engine. You may need to change it as often as every 15,000 miles if you drive in dusty conditions.

The fuel filter, much like the oil filter, catches contaminants and impurities in the fuel line, thus protecting the engine from harmful debris. It should be replaced about every 30,000 miles to ensure it continues working as designed.

Every 60,000 miles
The 60,000-mile service milestone is a big one for most vehicles. At this time, you should replace a variety of critical car components, including battery, coolant, transmission fluid, and brake assembly items — pads, rotors, and brake fluid. Though you can get away with having some of these components maintained less frequently, you should still get them inspected by a technician at your local service center to avoid a potentially nasty repair bill. For example, “if you lose too much coolant, the engine will overheat, which can cause severe damage,” warns Scott Sowers, contributor for CarGurus. Likewise, you don’t want to experience brake failure while on the road. Make sure to look out for warning signs that your brakes need maintenance, such as a mushy-feeling brake pedal or screeching noises when slowing down.

Many other car components wear down at an unpredictable rate, including windshield wiper blades, tires, rubber gaskets, and rubber hoses. However, even the more predictable components can have irregular wear-and-tear caused by various factors, such as how often and in what environments you drive your car. To catch potential problems before they arise, get your car inspected every 15,000 miles — or about every other oil change — and make sure to consult your owner’s manual for more details about service intervals and maintenance.

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