Cars need regular maintenance to ensure they keep running properly. However, keeping track of when to replace consumables can be difficult, especially if you are a first-time car owner. That’s the reason why automakers include a maintenance schedule in the car manual.
Unfortunately, most of the schedules only cover a few parts, typically those that often need replacing. So, what about the rest?
This is where we come in. We have created a comprehensive maintenance schedule of consumable car parts, so you don’t need to go through that trouble.
The guidelines are based on the estimated intervals recommended by several automakers and repair shops. Even so, you must refer to your car’s manual or authorised service centres as some car models have specific schedules when it comes to maintenance.
Generally, manufacturers use the number of kilometres or mileage as a metric for determining when specific parts need replacement. Others use the number of months or years the car has been on the road. Sometimes the two are combined.
Regarding mileage, manufacturers make use of a 30-60-90 schedule. Simply put, some parts need replacement after 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, and 90,000. You can keep this going up to higher mileage in the range of over 120,000 miles.
The 30-60-90 mnemonics is so much easier for car owners in other parts of the globe. For us in Australia, that would be 48-96-145 (not as nifty, eh?) It works the same way in reminding you that some parts of your car will need maintenance after 48,000 km, 96,000 km, and 145,000 km.
Oil and oil filter
The oil and oil filter of your car should be frequently replaced as per the manufacturer's recommendation. As you keep driving, tiny particles find their way into the engine. To prevent wear on the engine, you need to get rid of these particles.
For non-synthetic oil, most manufacturers recommend oil and oil filter change after about three months or 4,800 km (3,000 miles). As for synthetic oil (common today), the kilometre range is 8,000-16,000 km (5,000 to 10,000 miles).
Maintenance at/before 48,000 km (30,000 miles)
For a moment, imagine having a blocked nose. Breathing would be difficult, right? That’s the same case with the engine when your car has a clogged air filter. It is why you need to change the filter after 24,000-48,000 km (15,000 to 30,000 miles). If you live in a dusty neighbourhood or drive in dusty roads, change your filter at 24,000 km.
When it comes to the fuel filter, manufacturers have different replacement advice. As such, it is best to visit the repair shop and carry out a pressure test that will reveal the condition of the filter. We recommend changing your filter if it is clogged, which usually happens before 40,000 km (25,000 miles).
Check the air pressure of your tyres every month. Depending on the tread wear, rotate them after 8,000-13,000 km (5,000 to 8,000 miles) to even the wear. If the threads are worn out, replace the tyre.
Maintenance at/before 96,000 km (60,000 miles)
We recommend inspecting the suspension system after roughly 80,000 km (50,000 miles). Check all the components of the system, including shocks, bushings, springs, and struts. While at it, check the ride height as well.
Batteries are usually warrantied; hence, they're rated by time. The health and lifespan of your battery are determined by several factors, including temperature and how long it remains unused. Generally, they serve for 4 to 5 years, after which batteries need to be replaced. For an average car owner, this translates to 80,500-96,000 km (50,000 to 60,000 miles).
Extremely low levels of the fluid may have adverse effects, such as burning of the transmission. You should check the transmission fluid regularly instead of depending on mileage or time.
One way to identify whether your transmission fluid needs change is the colour and smell. Bad transmission fluid will have a dark red or brown colour or a burnt smell.
Modern cars show a warning (check engine) light on the dashboard. For older car models, you can check the fluid using the transmission-fluid dipstick.
That said, automatic transmissions generally cover a longer mileage before they require transmission fluid replacement compared to manual ones. The fluid can last anywhere between 48,000 and 160,000 km (30,000 and 100,000 miles) for automatic transmissions. Manual transmissions, on the other hand, require a change after 48,000-96,000 km (30,000 to 60,000 miles).
The braking action when driving causes wear on brake pads. As they wear out, the rubber is scratched off, exposing the metal surface. You’ll hear some screeching sounds at this point, and that’s your cue to replace them. The rate at which brake pads wear out depends on your driving, but most can serve you up to 80,000 km (50,000 miles).
When you brake, the brake pads squeeze against the rotors, which are metal discs. Since rotors take a lot of thermal abuse, it’s quite common for them to warp after 96,000 km (60,000 miles).
You can replace or resurface warped rotors to make them smooth again. The latter is the cheaper option but can only be done once, after which you will eventually need to buy a new set.
The coolant ensures that the engine does not overheat when running. Over time, the pH level of coolant changes or the coolant level reduces. Consequently, it will be unable to cool the engine effectively, and the coolant’s additive package can lose its corrosion-control ability.
To be on the safe side, replace the coolant and radiator hoses after driving 96,000 km (60,000 miles). You also need to flush the cooling system when replacing the coolant. Today, there are long-life coolants that last for over 160,000 km (100,000 miles).
The brake fluid is an integral component of the hydraulic brake system. If contaminated, the whole braking system will be compromised. That’s why you need to replace the fluid as recommended in the owner's manual to ensure your brakes work all the time.
Most manufacturers recommend to change the brake fluid after 2 to 3 years or 32,000-72,000 km (20,000 to 45,000 miles).
Maintenance at/before 145,000 km (90,000 miles)
Timing belt or chain
Some cars use timing belts while others use the timing chains. If your car uses a timing chain, then you’re covered here as it can serve you for a very long time. Still, you should ask a mechanic to check whether it has the right tension every time you’re going for servicing.
Although it is not a common sight, sometimes the links in the chain can stretch. For car owners using the belt, we advise changing it after 120,000-145,000 km (75,000 to 90,000 miles), or when its tension decreases.
Power steering fluid
The power steering fluid plays a huge role in how the steering feels. Low-power steering fluid makes it hard to steer and can cause noise when turning the wheels. Such issues commonly arise after 120,000 km (75,000 miles) or even before that mark in some cases.
Modern cars show a warning light on the dashboard when there is a problem with the ignition system components. Check you OBD scanner/reader for the associated OBD-II trouble code to reveal the exact problem.
The lifespan of the spark plug depends on the type of spark plug used and how the vehicle is operated. Titanium or iridium spark plugs typically serve for 160,000 km (100,000 miles). If your car uses cheaper ones, e.g., copper, consider replacing them after every 64,000 km (40,000 miles).
Maintenance past 193,000 km (120,000 miles)
Proper maintenance can give your car a lifespan of over 193,000 km (100,000 miles). At this point, chances are that your warranties have expired. If you still want the car to serve you for a few more years, here are some things you should consider.
Check the O2 sensors as they may have accumulated combustion production after driving for this long. Inspect the A/C compressor clutch for wear or any slip, especially if a car lacks an inspection procedure for the clutch.
Do a fuel injector cleaning because the injector's needle and seat have likely suffered substantial damage at this mileage mark. Further, carbon may have piled up on the caps affecting the fuel spray pattern.
Remember that the above are just guidelines from most manufacturers. You should refer to your car's manual for the recommended maintenance schedule and adhere to it.
You can create your calendar using this guide and keep it in your garage. This will guide you in maintaining your car, taking it for servicing, and saving up for major auto parts replacement.
By following the schedule, you can anticipate problems with your car and even prevent them. Keep your car in perfect shape, and it will return you the favour.
By Sam O.