Circle of Life: What to Expect at Each Milestone Service Appointment

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Checklist with copyspace blackboard templated/Image Credit: 8VFanl

Getting a new car is a truly thrilling experience! Keeping up regular maintenance and service appointments for your car? That’s a little less than thrilling. However, the more “love” you show your car now, the longer you’ll be able to enjoy driving it without maintenance headaches. Thankfully, your odometer can clue you in on when to perform necessary maintenance. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will detail what’s right for your car or truck, but here are common mileage milestones to keep in mind throughout the life of your vehicle.

Every 3,000 Miles:

  • Check those fluid levels. This includes transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. If your vehicle is older, it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek at your oil levels either!
  • Check your tire pressure and tread (including the spare!). Your tires take the bulk of the abuse from regular usage. Keep an eye out for uneven wear patterns and look for damage to the tread and sidewalls. Make sure your tires are at their recommended pressure and replace any damaged ones.
  • Check your hoses and belts. And no, we don’t mean the garden hose or your favorite leather belt with the cool metal studs. Your hoses should be free of leaking fluids and any unusual bulges. If your vehicle has a timing belt, it should be changed based entirely on time and mileage, and it should ALWAYS be done on time! Serpentine belts should be checked out to ensure they’re not cracked or split.

Every 5,000 Miles:

  • Get your motor oil changed every 5,000 miles. If you drive an older, less efficient vehicle, your owner’s manual might recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles instead. This is also a good time to change your oil filter.
Auto mechanic service and repair/Image Credit: DuxX

Every 10,000 Miles:

  • Time for more tire love! Give those glorious pieces of rubber a rotation and an alignment check to ensure even wear on all four tires. This will help prolong the life of your tires and provide a smoother ride.

Every 15,000 Miles:

  • Give your engine a breath of fresh air! Air filters are a bit peculiar in that their milestone can range from 15,000 to 30,000, depending on how often you drive in really dusty areas. A dirty air filter makes it harder for your engine to breathe and drain’s performance. If you’ve been running on the same filter for a year, it’s a good rule of thumb to replace it even if it is not noticeably dirty.

Every 30,000 Miles:

  • Stay cool with coolant! Your vehicle’s radiator is vital in keeping your engine cool and running properly. Having your coolant flushed regularly helps get rid of buildup inside as well as ensuring that your radiator is filled to a proper level.
Auto mechanic service and repair/Image Credit: DuxX

Every 50,000 Miles:

  • Give your brakes a break! We’ve all heard the horrific screech of brakes that are in need of some serious TLC. However, you never want to wait for a problem to arise for you to deal with it. Check your pads and rotors and get them replaced if they’re showing serious signs of wear.
  • Time for a new fuel filter! In the past, it was recommended to replace your fuel filter every 20,000 to 30,000. However, modern vehicles have been improved and can usually go 50,000 miles between fuel filters.

Every 60,000 Miles:

  • The average battery lasts 4 to 5 years, which puts most drivers somewhere in between the 50,000 and 60,000 milestones. That can also vary widely if you live in places with extreme temperatures or if your vehicle goes long periods of time without being used. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your battery, get it tested to see how well it holds a charge. Many service shops will test it for free!

Every 100,000 Miles and Beyond:

  • First, we applaud you reaching the 100,000 mark! That’s always a big deal, whether you drive a 2005 Camry or a 2021 Hellcat (although we’re curious how you got 100,000 miles on your Hellcat so fast… unless you secretly own this one from Fast 9.) Now, it’s time to replace spark plugs. Spark plugs are a pretty durable component that don’t need to be replaced TOO often, but it doesn’t hurt to have them checked out periodically.
  • If you’re experiencing rough idling or your engine misfiring, your O2 sensor may need replacing. As we’ve said, we’re all about preventive service rather than waiting for an issue to arise, so when you hit that golden 100,000 milestone, get that baby replaced.
Car service center. Vehicle raised on lift/Image Credit: Kyryl Gorlov

Once you’re over 100,000 miles, all previously stated services become even MORE vital. Sticking to a solid service routine for your vehicle means more miles you’ll get to enjoy driving it. It’s important to keep in mind that these milestones are just guidelines, and you should always check your owner’s manual for the most exact maintenance schedule! If your vehicle is aging or becoming a bigger headache than it’s worth, there are lots of ways to get into a new one!

Annie Boss

Annie Boss

Annie grew up in a small mining town in northern Utah, which gave her an early appreciation of big trucks with even bigger tires. She has a true passion for writing, as well as injecting lighthearted fun and gentle goofs into every piece she puts out. Annie now resides in Phoenix, Arizona, and has been writing about automotive and automotive-adjacent topics for the past two years. Her dream car is a bright yellow hard top Jeep Wrangler with SHERA on the vanity plate.