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Car maintenance schedule?

SpacemilkSpacemilk Registered User regular
edited December 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
My car is about a year old now and has approximately 15k miles on it. So apparently I am starting to approach some standard car maintenance milestones, but I'm confused because it seems like half the sources I see either tend towards the "unnecessarily early maintenance" or "it's only recommended but we're going to say it's required so we can make a quick buck!". My car manual is only semi-helpful because while it gives some of the common maintenance items, I have been reading about others that are apparently very necessary but aren't in the manual at all. (or they are called something different than what's in the manual) No I do not want to go to my dealership because it is about a 30-40 minute drive and in my previous experiences, they have ripped me off as much as possible.

Before you ask, yes I know about oil changes and tire rotations. Here are the ones I have questions about:
  • Fuel system cleaning: Some places list it as necessary. My manual says it's recommended but gives no details. My (favorite because they are so nice) local mechanic lists one of his services as "fuel injection cleaning" and there are two levels of it (regular and advanced systems) but that's not the same... right? How much should I expect to pay?
  • Engine flush. I don't even know what this is. My manual doesn't list it but maybe it's called something else, but I have seen some sites say that it's highly recommended.
  • Differential service. I am helpless here. I have no clue what this means.

So what's necessary? What's not necessary but a "good idea"? What should I expect to pay? I really don't want to get screwed.

As a side note, my favorite mechanic who I am going to today (and who I will probably ask the same questions) does the following as part of their full-service oil change:
Change oil (up to 5 quarts)
Install new oil filter
Complete chassis lubrication (working zerk fittings only)
Check and fill transmission fluid (1st pint free)
Check and fill differential fluid
Check and fill brake fluid
Check and fill power steering fluid
Check and fill washer fluid
Check and fill battery fluid
Check air filter and breather
Check wiper blades
Check and adjust tire pressure
Vacuum interior
Wash outside of windows
Check and fill radiator fluid
Check PCV valve

Spacemilk on

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    b0bd0db0bd0d Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Fuel system cleaning usually means throwing some sort of cleaning agent in the fuel system. Fuel injector cleaner, that type of stuff. the stuff you see at the store. There's no point in paying somebody to put a bottle of stuff in your car when you can go get the same stuff and do it yourself. They're not, like, taking the fuel injectors out and cleaning the ports.

    Engine flush could mean a few things but it's basiclly just adding cleaning agents to the fluids already in it. Like, adding something to the oil to clean the gunk out, then draining it. you don't need this and I've heard the agrument that it can cause more problems. you have a new car. I do it if the oil seems to be espcially dirty and hasn't been changed in awhile. ie, the truck i bought that hadn't had an oil change in a year. I highly doubt that you need it. Unless you haven't had an oil change yet...

    Differential service is for your differential. The thing that transfers power from your transmission to wheels. If you have a rear wheel drive car, it's the round thing in the rear. You don't need this. Well, maybe if that car has been exposed to high water and leaked into it, contaminating the fluid. Have you driven through a flood?
    differential-rwd.gif

    Just follow the instructions in the manual. Or find you a forum that is specific to your car and ask there. All that other stuff is just fluff. And if you have a mechanic that you like and treats you good, just listen to him.

    some links:
    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/flushservices.html

    http://www.asashop.org/autoinc/june98/techtotech.htm

    b0bd0d on
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    TejsTejs Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'd definitely find the car forum for your vehicle and ask the question there - they'd more than likely be able to tell you what exactly needs to be done, and may even point you to DIY explanations for your specific vehicle that will save you money.

    For example, a Lotus Elise oil change costs around 190 dollars at the dealership. Doing it yourself is MUCH cheaper.

    Tejs on
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    SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit Tandem Electrostatic Accelerator Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Spacemilk wrote: »
    My car is about a year old now and has approximately 15k miles on it. So apparently I am starting to approach some standard car maintenance milestones, but I'm confused because it seems like half the sources I see either tend towards the "unnecessarily early maintenance" or "it's only recommended but we're going to say it's required so we can make a quick buck!". My car manual is only semi-helpful because while it gives some of the common maintenance items, I have been reading about others that are apparently very necessary but aren't in the manual at all. (or they are called something different than what's in the manual) No I do not want to go to my dealership because it is about a 30-40 minute drive and in my previous experiences, they have ripped me off as much as possible.

    Before you ask, yes I know about oil changes and tire rotations. Here are the ones I have questions about:
    • Fuel system cleaning: Some places list it as necessary. My manual says it's recommended but gives no details. My (favorite because they are so nice) local mechanic lists one of his services as "fuel injection cleaning" and there are two levels of it (regular and advanced systems) but that's not the same... right? How much should I expect to pay?
    • Engine flush. I don't even know what this is. My manual doesn't list it but maybe it's called something else, but I have seen some sites say that it's highly recommended.
    • Differential service. I am helpless here. I have no clue what this means.

    So what's necessary? What's not necessary but a "good idea"? What should I expect to pay? I really don't want to get screwed.

    As a side note, my favorite mechanic who I am going to today (and who I will probably ask the same questions) does the following as part of their full-service oil change:
    Change oil (up to 5 quarts)
    Install new oil filter
    Complete chassis lubrication (working zerk fittings only)
    Check and fill transmission fluid (1st pint free)
    Check and fill differential fluid
    Check and fill brake fluid
    Check and fill power steering fluid
    Check and fill washer fluid
    Check and fill battery fluid
    Check air filter and breather
    Check wiper blades
    Check and adjust tire pressure
    Vacuum interior
    Wash outside of windows
    Check and fill radiator fluid
    Check PCV valve

    Follow the service schedule in the owner's manual.

    - Fuel system cleaning typically refers to a bottle of injector cleaner poured into the gas tank at oil change (or the next time you top the tank off after the oil change). Pretty standard maintenance item, but this is typically not be in the owners manual. Perform at your own risk. Fuel injector cleaner is typically around $10/treatment if you purchase the cleaner yourself at your local retail store. If you get charged $50, you are getting ripped off.

    - "Engine Flush" typically refers to a coolant flush - this item should be in the owner's manual, follow the manufacturers schedule.

    - Differential service - this should be in the owner's manual. Typically involves draining the gear oil and refilling. Any necessary additives are also put in at this time - these additives would be for something like a clutch-type LSD or a locker. Follow the manufacturers schedule.

    Soggybiscuit on
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    NewtonNewton Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Don't ever get an engine flush. It's a service that shady shops will try to push onto people with higher mileage engines. It really doesn't do any good and can actually destroy your engine.

    You'll likely need to follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule to keep the warranty valid, but at least in Washington that doesn't mean you have to take it to the dealership for the work. You can take it to any mechanic or do the work yourself. Just keep any receipts for parts you buy and document what you do in case you need to make a warranty claim at some point.

    Newton on
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    Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    you know that little packet of books in your glove compartment?

    FOLLOW THAT

    your warranty will often have a little line at the end of it in the fine print that says 'assuming a normal maitenence schedule is followed'. you can do all the work yourself so long as you keep the reciepts but if you don't follow the book and have something serious go wrong, they may fight you for it.

    it doesn't matter if the required maitenance is licking the bottom of the tires, you better do it if you want to keep the warranty.

    Dunadan019 on
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    illigillig Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    follow the maintenance schedule in your car's manual... there, that was easy :D

    seriously... if you don't know anything about cars (and judging by the OP, that's very likely) why would you mistrust your car's manual?

    going above and beyond the manual is only for people who know what they're doing... thing such as running 5w-30 instead of 10w-30 motor oil, or extending the oil changes to 5K instead of the recommended 3K... etc. etc. etc.

    by the way... 1st rule of posting car questions anywhere is:
    post the car make/model/year

    illig on
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    The Black HunterThe Black Hunter The key is a minimum of compromise, and a simple, unimpeachable reason to existRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Get it all done, what you do now will add years to your cars life

    Anyone who changes oil 5k instead of 3k is silly, if anything get it done earlier

    treat your car well and it will return the favour

    The Black Hunter on
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    THEPAIN73THEPAIN73 Shiny. Real shiny.Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    What kind of car do you have OP?

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    MidshipmanMidshipman Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Get it all done, what you do now will add years to your cars life

    Anyone who changes oil 5k instead of 3k is silly, if anything get it done earlier

    treat your car well and it will return the favour

    Heh. In a properly running engine, 3k mile oil changes are excessive. Unless you are running way hot, your oil doesn't degrade or break down, it merely builds up dirt and other contaminants which your oil filter then removes. 4-5k miles is perfectly fine for standard motor oil, and you can go as long as 7-9k miles with some of the synthetic oils.

    It always annoys me that oil filter systems on cars are so rudimentary. If they so much as gave you a valve to shut off/bypass the filter you could probably go 15-20k miles on standard motor oil by just changing the filter every 3k miles or so. The filter becoming saturated is the only part that really necessitates the oil change in most situations.

    Midshipman on
    midshipman.jpg
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    SpacemilkSpacemilk Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    illig wrote: »
    seriously... if you don't know anything about cars (and judging by the OP, that's very likely) why would you mistrust your car's manual?
    Like I said in the OP, I don't mistrust it. It's just that I tried to do more research and started finding sources that highly recommended/required more maintenance than was in my manual, and I was also getting confused because I thought some of the stuff may have been the same, but just called by a different name. (you are correct. I know nothing about cars.)

    Also, I want to maintain my warranty so I plan to do at least the maintenance required for that, but I also want to do any additional maintenance that may extend the life of my car. So maybe that's for people who "know what they're doing"... hence why I am asking questions, I'd like to be one of those people who "know". When you get into that realm, there are problems as evidenced by replies so far: "Absolutely get an oil change every 3k miles!" "An oil change every 3k miles is a waste of money!" So for a car noob like me, this is all very confusing.

    I have a 2009 Toyota Rav4.

    Spacemilk on
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    wallakawallaka Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Midshipman wrote: »
    you could probably go 15-20k miles on standard motor oil by just changing the filter every 3k miles or so. The filter becoming saturated is the only part that really necessitates the oil change in most situations.


    Not exactly. The additive packages in oils start to break down after a certain amount of heat and wear, usually around 10,000 miles or so. The additives are arguably more important than the base stock in most oils. They are what give it multiviscosity and cleaning properties, among other things.

    wallaka on
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    MidshipmanMidshipman Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    wallaka wrote: »
    Midshipman wrote: »
    you could probably go 15-20k miles on standard motor oil by just changing the filter every 3k miles or so. The filter becoming saturated is the only part that really necessitates the oil change in most situations.


    Not exactly. The additive packages in oils start to break down after a certain amount of heat and wear, usually around 10,000 miles or so. The additives are arguably more important than the base stock in most oils. They are what give it multiviscosity and cleaning properties, among other things.

    So then just add more with the filter change and don't rebuy several quarts of oil unneccesarily. Also, some filters come with other additives already, so including additional ones to lengthen the life of motor oil would be a pretty trivial thing.

    Midshipman on
    midshipman.jpg
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    Gadrel AmonGadrel Amon Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    It's a really good idea to replace the transmission fluid and filter every 50,000 miles.

    Gadrel Amon on
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    wallakawallaka Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Spacemilk wrote: »
    illig wrote: »
    seriously... if you don't know anything about cars (and judging by the OP, that's very likely) why would you mistrust your car's manual?
    Like I said in the OP, I don't mistrust it. It's just that I tried to do more research and started finding sources that highly recommended/required more maintenance than was in my manual, and I was also getting confused because I thought some of the stuff may have been the same, but just called by a different name. (you are correct. I know nothing about cars.)

    Also, I want to maintain my warranty so I plan to do at least the maintenance required for that, but I also want to do any additional maintenance that may extend the life of my car. So maybe that's for people who "know what they're doing"... hence why I am asking questions, I'd like to be one of those people who "know". When you get into that realm, there are problems as evidenced by replies so far: "Absolutely get an oil change every 3k miles!" "An oil change every 3k miles is a waste of money!" So for a car noob like me, this is all very confusing.

    I have a 2009 Toyota Rav4.


    Do what's required. I do not recommend oil changes every 3,000 and your manual does not call for it. It's a holdover from the 60's when it was required, along with distributor and carburetor adjustments every 5,000 and valve adjustment every 10,000 miles. Those aren't required anymore, and neither are 3,000 mile oil changes. Cars these days are pretty maintenance-free. Fuel filters every 60,000 miles and transmission/diff fluid changes every 75k or so, brakes as needed. I'd do an inspection every oil change, look for obviously worn parts and so on. There are official inspection checklists floating around on car-specific forums that tells you what to look for.

    wallaka on
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    SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    This topic reminded me that it's been a while since I changed the oil in my Titan. I just scheduled an appointment for Thursday morning. Thanks.

    Slider on
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