* Once a month or as frequently as possible: You should check the tire pressure and the overall condition of the treads and sidewalls. Moreover, you should check the levels of windshield washer fluid plus the condition of all your lights, from directional to headlights and from brakelights to taillights. These are easy fixes that can be taken care of right away.
* Every three months or 3,000 miles: Most vehicles will benefit from an oil change at this point, but it is also important to have the car looked at by a technician. A typical inspection looks at the condition of the battery, air filter, cables, vacuum hoses, drive belts, hydraulic lines, steering pump, transmission fluid, and overall functionality of the engine and power train.
* Every six months or after 5,000 miles: The time is right for another oil change, but the technician will likely replace the air filter, the wiper blades, the power steering fluid, brake fluid, brake lines, and other brake components.
* Every nine months or after 10,000 miles: Depending on driving conditions and how the engine is functioning, there may or may not be a need for an oil change. This may be a good time to change the fuel filter and check the lubrication of the gearcase. For plug-in hybrid and electric models, the charging port mechanism and the state of the batteries that store energy should be checked at this time, and the transmission fluid will probably need to be replaced.
* Every 12 months or after 12,000 miles: Aside from the expected oil change, this is when the tires should be rotated and a wheel alignment should be performed. The car has gone through a couple of seasons, so the coolant should be replaced and the radiator checked for efficiency and or rust. This is also a perfect time for a tune-up, which is more than just reviewing the timing of the engine and replacing the spark plugs; if the “check engine” light has already come on, it is time to put the vehicle through the scanner and review what the codes suggest. Many codes are related to fuel efficiency and emissions, which means that you may not feel as if they require repair, but these are important issues for the longevity of your car.
Most drivers are very happy when they leave the shop after the annual service. The combination of rotating the tires, tightening belts, tuning up the engine, and adjusting the alignment usually results in an experience that you can really feel.
In recent years, discussion about the recommended frequency of oil changes has made it to the pages of The New York Times. In 2010, an automotive engineer from Edmunds explained that advances in engine technology and oil chemistry no longer require changing the oil every 3,000 miles. This may be true for drivers who hit the highway every other day and do not encounter any stop-and-go traffic as they travel 20 miles. If this is your case, and if you never get in your car to take short trips to Walmart or to grab a bite to eat, you could get away with an oil change every 8,000 miles.
Bringing your car to the shop every three months for an oil change is more than just keeping the engine lubricated. This is when technicians look at your car and determine whether additional service is required to keep on the road longer and to give you peace of mind.