Auto maintenance is nothing like it used to be. In the past, your vehicle required regular replacement of a variety of parts: spark plugs, ignition wires, PCV valves, distributor caps, ignition rotors, and more.
With the exception of spark plugs, technology has replaced most of these with advanced, integrated ignition systems.
Nevertheless, vehicle maintenance is still vital. So what does your vehicle really need in order to maintain it? Put another way: “What am I paying $300, $400, $900 for anyway?”
To simplify car maintenance questions, let’s put the general requirements of today’s vehicle maintenance management into two categories:
Regular Vehicle Maintenance
Let’s start with tune-ups. Tune-ups are a thing of the past. As mentioned above, most of today’s vehicles are equipped with advanced technology, which has replaced many wearable parts of the past (points, distributor caps, ignition rotors…etc). While there are still many vehicles on the road with the above parts, they are fading fast.
Today’s tune-ups are incorporated into general automobile maintenance
Today’s tune-ups are incorporated into general automobile maintenance.
So what makes up today’s tune-up?
So what makes up today’s tune-up?
There are four primary tune-up components:
- Air Filters
- Fuel Filters
- Cabin Filters (also called dust filters, or HVAC filters)
- Spark Plugs
Two of these have often extended replacement time intervals or “auto extended maintenance.”
- Some fuel filters last the life of the vehicle. Others last 60,000-miles
- Many platinum spark plugs last 100,000-miles.
This reduces primary tune-up components down to only two: Air Filters and Cabin Filters.
Air Filters: Some air filters can last 60,000 miles, although most last between 15,000 to 30,000 miles.There are lifetime performance air filters, but these require maintenance.
Cabin filters: Cabin filters filter the incoming air of dust and debris, helping to keep your interior clean and dust and pollen free. They require replacement starting around 10,000 miles. Not every vehicle is equipped with cabin filters.
Maintenance Online Help & Car Maintenance Schedules
Let’s move on to regular vehicle maintenance. Vehicle maintenance management procedures vary, depending on the year, make, and model.
Again, vehicle maintenance is separated from the Tune-Up section above for clarity, not because they’re separate.
Below is a break-down to five vehicle maintenance services:
General Vehicle Maintenance
- Oil and Oil Filter Service
- Coolant/Antifreeze Flush
- Brake System Flush
- Transmission Fluid Service
- Differential/Gear Box/Transfer Case Services
There is also tire maintenance – rotation, balance, replacement, and alignments. Then there are various maintenance inspections: brakes, front end, under-carriage, belts, hoses, and battery. Lastly, we can’t forget wiper blades and miscellaneous lubrication services. That about covers the extent of vehicle maintenance services for today’s vehicles. It’s not much.
There are two other maintenance services to keep in mind outside of manufacturer recommendations. The first is fuel system cleaning maintenance. Also called fuel injector cleaning auto maintenance. The second is per road trip car maintenance.
Important note on tire rotation: many manufacturer maintenance sheet guidelines do not clearly articulate the importance or the intervals of tire rotations. To keep it simple: rotate your tires approximately every 5,000 miles, as applicable.
If you’re wondering if you need a tune-up, just follow your manufacturer’s maintenance interval. More importantly, find a auto repair shop that will follow your manufacturer’s maintenance intervals for your specific make and model car.
A final thought: What’s surprising about today’s tune-ups and maintenance services is that the costs have not come down. One would think fewer parts, less work, less money – right?
Vehicle Maintenance Chart
The auto maintenance chart below is just a sample, but will provide a good overview of the simplicity’s of today’s cars and their maintenance needs. Note there are only a few “replace” sections. While it’s important that the other components get checked periodically for safety and proper function, they’re usually fine.