Engine 101


You should know some of the common maintenance items that are important to address.
  • Oil Change
    Typically every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Some foreign car companies are using synthetic oil, which has a longer lifespan than conventional oil. With synthetic oil, expect a lifespan of anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 miles. In this situation, it is normal to have to add oil to your vehicle after about 7,000 miles. Check with your local dealership to see if they cover oil changes as part of a maintenance program. Otherwise, there are shops that specialize in quick oil changes and they also will typically check the other fluid levels in your car, check wiper blades and tire pressure. Be on the lookout as some of these companies will overdramatize a problem to make an extra buck.
  • Tire Rotation
    It’s important to rotate your tires every 5,000 miles. When you buy tires from a specialized tire store – be it a large chain or small shop – they will typically rotate the tires for you for free as long as you have the tires. Dealerships will also often perform this task for you if you are getting other work done. Check your dealership for their policy.
  • Wiper Blades
    These are often the most overlooked part on a vehicle. It is recommended that you change your wiper blades every 6 months, or every major season change. Again, many car manufacturers are starting to include the replacement of wiper blades with maintenance programs, so see your dealer to see if this is covered. Keeping your wiper blades clean will also help improve their performance. Simply take a wet towel or paper towel and wipe off the rubber blade. When dirt and other debris collect on the blade, it can hinder the performance of the blade. In the wintertime, keep a spare gallon of window washer fluid in your trunk. In inclement weather, you’d be surprised how fast you can use it up and having a spare bottle could come in handy. In addition to keeping your wiper blades in top shape, keep your car clean too, using this car wash finder.
  • Tire Pressure
    The tire pressure recommendations for your car can be found in the owner’s manual, but can also be found on the inside of the door jamb on the driver’s side. In 2009, the U.S. government is mandating that all new vehicles have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This system quickly tells the driver if the tire pressure is low on their vehicle. Some more advanced systems tell which specific tire and how low it is, and other systems simply note that there is a problem.