Car Maintenance Schedules

Routine maintenance is key to keeping your car in top shape and preventing costly breakdowns.
Find your car's maintenance schedule

Purchasing a car is one of the largest investments you'll make, so maintaining it is not something you should ignore. Doing so can get expensive. Performing routine, preventative maintenance ensures that your vehicle remains safe to drive, that it retains its resale value, and that the warranties remain valid.


5 frequent questions about car maintenance

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about how to keep your car reliable and safe without breaking the bank.

1. When do I need to change my oil?

Vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the oil between 5,000 and 10,000 miles. We recommend following the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual, and keep an eye out for that maintenance light on your dash.

2. Why are oil changes important for my car?

Changing the oil helps ensure you get the best fuel mileage and longevity from your engine. An important part of having your oil changed is having the vehicle inspected by a professional. At that time, they can catch any small issues before they turn into large, costly repairs. If you wait too long or avoid oil changes altogether, you run the risk of voiding any warranties you may have on your engine or its parts.

3. Why do I need to rotate my tires?

Because the front and rear tires wear at different rates, it's important to rotate them periodically to get the longest life out of them.

4. What about fluid flushes not required by the manufacturer?

There are good reasons to perform fluid flushes, but this is where maintenance costs can get out of hand. You can avoid excessive repair bills by following the manufacturer's fluid replacement guidelines.

5. When should I replace my battery?

Batteries tend to last about four years, unless you have an electric or hybrid car. Then they can last 10 years or more. To ensure the best battery performance and longevity, have it inspected and tested every time you have the oil changed.

How to know which maintenance schedule to follow

This is a lot to remember. When you're unsure about something, it's best to reference your owner's manual.

Manufacturers define maintenance schedules for your car and typically prescribe different ones for "normal" and "severe" driving conditions. You probably don't think the way you drive would fall under "severe" driving — most of us don't. But you are more likely to fall into this category if you:

  • Take short trips of less than 10 miles
  • Drive in heavy traffic with many stops and starts
  • Drive at high rates of speed
  • Tow heavy loads or drive off-road
  • Drive in dusty conditions
  • Drive in extremely cold or extremely hot climates

If the above conditions are severe, then what's normal?

  • Trips of 10 miles or more
  • Sustained speeds of 50 to 75 miles an hour
  • Driving in low-traffic situations with few stops and starts
  • Ambient temperatures above freezing and below 95 degrees Farhenheit