Vehicle Maintenance Schedule to Keep You Running
You can Drive Almost Forever if You Maintain
How long do you think a vehicle will last? Most people would say that a vehicle will conk out somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. At this point the age of the vehicle means that it’s often not worth the money to do major repairs. Long before that time comes, however, many people will trade in their rigs in order to have something newer, perhaps more reliable, safer, and all around more comfortable.
What many don’t realize, however, is that those are rather arbitrary numbers. There are a lot of vehicles out there that are built to last. With regular maintenance, many makes and models will keep on driving into the many hundreds of thousands of miles. The problem is that most people don’t keep up with maintenance; it’s hard to spend money on a vehicle that doesn’t appear to be broken.
Here at Big Sky Collision Center, our goal is to be the best auto body repair shop in Billings. So we have put together a simple maintenance schedule for you. Put reminders in your calendar, keep up with the schedule, and you can have a safe and reliable vehicle for many years to come.
Check These Items At Least Monthly
There are a few items that just need a quick glance over to ensure that everything is running properly.
- Check Engine Light (if it comes on, find out why)
- Washer Fluid (top it off, a gallon costs just a couple bucks)
- Tires (ensure no low tires, tread is wearing evenly)
- Lights (replace burnt out bulbs)
- Clean the interior and exterior (a quick vacuum job and a 10 minute wash are easy to do)
Check These Items Every Three Months
Throughout the year, some items will come up that you have to be proactive on. They’re not hard to do, and they don’t take a lot of time out of your already busy schedule, but they will make a huge impact on the life of your vehicle. If you take your rig in for an oil change, most shops will check these things for you.
- Check Fluids (Transmission, brake, power steering, etc. to ensure they’re topped off)
- Oil and Filter (A quarter of vehicles on the road have low or dirty oil)
- Belts and Hoses (Rubber parts, especially in Montana, dry and crack)
- Exhaust System (Ensure it’s not rusting out)
- Battery and Cables (Is corrosion present? Is the battery cranking hard enough?)
- Everything on the Monthly list
Check These Items Every Six Months
Changing seasons can be hard on your vehicle. Regular maintenance can mean that your car is ready to take on the new weather.
- Chassis Lube (If it’s not sealed)
- Air Filters (Most vehicles have an engine air filter and a cabin air filter)
- Wiper Blades (Change before summer and winter, or at least once a year)
- Tires (Rotate and balance; the shop where you bought them should do it free)
- Deep Clean (Inside and out, wash and wax to protect for the coming season change)
- Everything on the previous lists
Check These Items Every Year
Yearly maintenance isn’t hard to do, but the little things that are done every year are what will really make sure that you aren’t putting too much strain on your vehicle. If you could spend a Saturday afternoon to save $500 in repairs, wouldn’t that be worthwhile?
- Steering and Suspension (Do you need an alignment?)
- Fuel Filter (Dirty gas can wreck an engine)
- Coolant (Make sure your car doesn’t overheat and wipe out the engine)
- Auto Detailing (Bring it to Big Sky for a full auto detail)
Maintenance Based on Miles Driven
Everyone drives differently. Some people will pack on 20,000+ miles per year, others will barely hit 6,000. The wear and tear on the vehicles is determined by how much abuse you put them through. Here’s a quick list of when you should have a little extra inspection done.
Throughout the year you will want to make sure that you’re checking your air filters. Before you get to 30,000 miles, you want to make sure that you’re replacing them.
You don’t have to wait; air filters are easy to change and they’re cheap. If you replace them every year, you’re likely going to spend less than $10.
60,000 miles will take the average driver 4 to 6 years. It’s at this time you’re going to notice two major issues coming up.
Your car may not be starting as easy as it once did. That’s because your battery isn’t cranking as hard as it used to. Batteries wear out, and about 5 years in they need to be swapped out. You can do it yourself easily, or have the shop do it during an oil change (most will do it free if you buy the battery there).
It’s at this time as well that you may notice your brakes making noise. Brake pads wear out. Replacing them before they get too bad will prevent expensive damage to the rotors. While you’re at it, make sure the brake fluid is bled and replaced to ensure they work properly.
Just before your vehicle turns over to that six digit mark, you have some big jobs coming up. In our dry Montana air, rubber and plastic parts wear out faster than in other areas of the country. It’s time to have hoses replaced if they’re showing signs of age.
It’s now that your spark plugs are probably on their last legs and need to be changed out.
Before you hit the big 100, there’s a major maintenance expense that you’re on task for. The timing belt could be on its last legs. If that thing breaks, you’re in for a hefty repair bill to fix the engine. It’s either a few hundred dollars now, or a couple thousand later.
Take your rig to your mechanic and have them do a full tune-up; they’ll know what parts need replaced.
Big Sky Collision Fixes Vehicles
When you ignore the maintenance, you set yourself up for a collision. Most of the collisions that we have seen in the winter are due to neglecting the tires. Many more are due to generally ignoring that regular maintenance.
Be safe, keep the vehicle maintained, and you can hit 200,000 miles and beyond.