What is it?
Manufacturers recommend servicing certain fluids and components at specified mileage intervals. This includes things like replacing spark plugs, timing belts, fluids, filters, inspecting steering and suspension components, and greasing door hinges.
Why do I need it?
Preventative maintenance can go a long way toward prolonging the life of your vehicle and can decrease the odds of a catastrophic failure of some type. Regular visits to the shop also allow us to identify and monitor potential issues before they develop into a problem that prevents the use of the vehicle (because that is really the point of all this, isn’t it?)
How often do I need it?
Generally speaking, most vehicles need to go into the shop every 3,000-10,000 miles (depending on vehicle type) for an engine oil change. This is a fantastic opportunity to have a qualified and experienced technician spend a few moments to look at a number of things on your vehicle, like checking all of the fluids under the hood, differential fluid, transfer case fluid, transmission fluid, lubing any grease fittings, inspecting for safety related issues, and inspecting for any issues that might decrease vehicle longevity.
Many vehicles have a checklist for service every 30,000 miles. This list can include things like replacing the cabin air filter, replacing fuel filters, checking coolant composition, inspecting belts and hoses, and replacing spark plugs on older vehicles. As always, this is a good chance to find any safety related issues that need to be addressed.
60k/90k/120k miles services tend to be a little more in depth, and may have wearing mechanical items than need to be replaced. Timing belts wear, get brittle, develop cracks, and become weak, therefore they must be replaced once in a blue moon. Spark plugs in many modern vehicles also need to be replaced around this interval as well. Manufacturers have been using more exotic metals allowing higher performance and longer spark plug life, but that has also driven up the cost to replace them in many cases. Differential, Transmission, and Transfer Case fluids are often recommended at this time as well, but often overlooked. The longer these systems are used with poor quality/ depleted oils, the shorter their service life is going to be. Refreshing the lubricants in your vehicle is money well spent.
Extra Notes/ Best Practices
Don’t skip it! A broken timing belt on an interference engine can require a replacement engine. I assure you it is more costly to replace an engine than to replace the timing belt and associated components. Replacing spark plugs before a misfire develops helps to protect the catalytic converters, which can be costly to replace even using aftermarket parts.
Speaking of parts, this is not the place to cheap out. The world of automotive replacement parts has been hurting for a while now, and the market has been flooded with sub-par knockoffs of the parts our ancestors used to be able to buy. Fluid technology has come a long way in the last decade, and a little more money in a quality product is a good value.