Car Maintenance Schedule – An Essential Checklist

Car Maintenance

Like any other piece of equipment, your car will break down. Although it is impossible to avoid that altogether, your next best option is to keep it to a minimum.

Adhering to a regular maintenance schedule is the best way to achieve that goal. Apart from ensuring that your vehicle is roadworthy, it is also an excellent way to keep repair costs low.

Read the manual

Whether you have a brand new or secondhand car, one of the first things that you need to do is to check the manual.

Apart from telling you how to operate your car correctly, the owner’s manual offers several helpful tips covering different subjects. One of the most important topics a manual covers is maintenance.

While perusing your car manual, you might notice two recommended maintenance schedules: regular and severe

A severe maintenance schedule is recommended for vehicles under different conditions. These include:

  • short drives;
  • carrying heavy loads;
  • passing through rough terrain;
  • passing through salty or dusty roads;
  • high humidity or freezing temperatures;
  • and idling.

Otherwise, you can stick to the regular maintenance schedule.


Many car manufacturers recommend following the 30-60-90 maintenance schedule.

Under this maintenance scheme, you must either check, change, or replace entirely specific car components before 30,000, 60,000, or 90,000 miles. For other car parts that do not wear out at regular intervals, the recommendation for these is to check them by yourself or ask a mechanic to do it for you periodically.

Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles

Unless you use non-synthetic oil for your car, you should replace the oil and oil filter before 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

You need to replace these as dirt and debris, as well as tiny bits of metal, can accumulate on the oil and its filter. Left unchecked, these can contribute to engine damage.

30,000 miles

When your car filter is clogged, you will see a marked decline in the performance of the engine. You can prevent this by replacing the air filter before reaching 30,000 miles. However, if you frequently drive in dusty environments, you should replace the filter before or just after reaching 15,000 miles.

The same thing applies to the fuel filter. Replace it at around 30,000 miles to ensure optimal engine performance.

60,000 miles

On average, a car battery will last between four and five years or about 50,000 to 60,000 miles. This lifespan can be shortened by different factors such as temperature and extended periods of non-use.

Over time, water can get to the brake fluid. When this happens, the brake fluid boiling point goes down, and you will notice that the brake pedal does not work like it usually does. At around 20,000 to 40,000 miles, you will need to drain the brake fluid from your car and top off. As for the brake pads and shoes, replace these at around 50,000 miles.

Apart from changing the brake fluid and pads, you will also need to replace the brake rotors at about 60,000 miles. Over time, the rotors can become deformed, primarily due to heat and friction. You can have the rotors resurfaced if you are in a pinch. But this can only be done once.

The best time to change transmission fluid will depend on whether you drive a manual or automatic car. For cars with a manual transmission, the liquid should be changed at around 30,000 to 60,000 miles. However, if your car usually hauls heavy loads, you should change the transmission fluid more frequently.

The transmission fluid in automatic transmission vehicles should be changed anywhere between 30,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on the model and manufacturer’s recommendations.

These are just rough estimates. Check the transmission fluid regularly, even before the recommended schedule. Otherwise, you risk getting problems with shifting, or worse, damage to the transmission.

90,000 miles

Before your car even reaches 100,000 miles, replace the hoses for the coolant and power steering fluids. Because hoses are made from rubber, these can become deformed and cracked.

At around 75,000 miles, drain the power steering fluid and top it off completely. Otherwise, you will notice that it can be harder to steer the wheel.

How often you replace your spark plugs will depend heavily on the type you use for your car. If you are using titanium or iridium spark plugs, you can replace these after 90,000 to 100,000 miles. However, if you are using a copper spark plug or any other material, replace it at around the 30,000 mark.

If your car uses a timing belt, do not wait until failure occurs. Change it at around 75,000 to 90,000 miles. Otherwise, you might figure in an accident or breakdown. On the other hand, if your car has a timing chain, get it checked by your mechanic regularly. Most timing chains will last over 100,000 miles.

Prevention is key

To keep your car in good driving condition at all times, do not wait until something goes wrong. When your life and safety is on the line, you should not gamble with your chances. Make sure that your car is regularly checked and maintained with the help of professionals.