Remember the days (even years) leading up to getting your driver's license? And then finally your first car? At long last, you were free! Free to go where you wanted, when you wanted, and with who you wanted. Having a car is a mainstay of our national sense of freedom, and most of us refer to our vehicles as a "member of the family" or "best friend." Let's come clean. We talk to our cars. We yell at them. Sometimes, they yell at us. They can even make us cry. When we're friends again, we even pat them on the back or high-five the rear-view mirrors. We give our cars names. Our relationships with the automobile is an intimate one because we rely on our cars for many reasons. The truth is, our cars rely on us just as much. Quantrell is proud to offer this basic car maintenance guide, but we're also acutely aware that it might just be a relationship survival guide!

The Benefits of Consistent Maintenance

Like anything we encounter in life, the better we care for it, the longer it lasts. It's that simple. From the homes we live in, to the timeless art that inspires us, the more attention we pay to maintenance, especially preventative care, the things we love last a long time. There are many benefits to following your vehicles car maintenance schedule, recommended by the factory and the main benefits are:

Save Time & Money

For most, this is one of the main drivers. When you stick to the factory car maintenance schedule, services can be performed that are more like an ounce of prevention rather than a pound of cure. When you bring your vehicle in for the 90K maintenance interval, you can expect to pay for services designed to keep your vehicle in great condition. The cost and results are predictable. If you "defer" that maintenance and hope for the best, your vehicle might quickly unravel, putting stress on other systems, which could lead to catastrophic damages, expenses, and delays. Who needs that?

Keep your vehicle reliable and in top condition

This idea isn't something to quickly dismiss! Contrary to popular belief, cars are not "tanks", and they will not run forever, no matter what brand they are. In fact, you still need to change the oil in a tank. Without routine maintenance, nearly all vehicles' systems will fail over time, some sooner than others. Much like an insurance policy, you're really paying for the times you'll need it. Imagine an emergency or natural disaster. You secure your family, race to your vehicle, turn the key, and nothing happens. Scheduled maintenance is one of the best ways to ensure turn-key reliability when you need it most.

Maintain your resale value

Most people don't think of this but put two like-vehicles side by side. One is clearly well-kept. It also has a nice stack of service receipts. Both vehicles are priced the same. Which one would you buy? Which one would you even spend a little more on knowing that it had some much care over the years?

Here's the basic routine maintenance schedule

It is always best to consult your owners manual for the exact specified intervals, what services and checks are required, and what fluids and capacities pertain to your vehicle. However, if your owners manual cannot be sourced or a reliable work-shop-manual be available, these are some guideposts that will keep you on track.

On a monthly basis

Pick one day a month. Make that "car-check-day." You can find a host of how-to videos online for your car, usually by a factory technician. They'll show you what to check, where to look, and what to do if something is out of the ordinary. The monthly schedule is usually visual in nature, and you are looking for things like nails in tires, low fluids, burnt-out bulbs, or swollen/cracked hoses and seals.

Every 3 months/3,000 miles

For most older cars, the 3,000-mile mark is the standard interval between conventional oil-changes. Be sure to use the correct filters and lubricants. They are NOT all created equal. Anything less than OEM spec could lead to problems.

Every 5 months/5,000 miles

This service interval is much like the previous one but pertains mostly to newer vehicles (yr 2000+) that use synthetic oil. The same rules apply. You must ensure OEM spec parts and lubricants because anything out of spec in these sophisticated engines will likely promote premature failure.

Every 6 months/6,000 miles

Otherwise known as the "oil change, plus" service, this maintenance interval includes another oil change if conventional is specified, plus a series of adjustments to brake and drive cables, intake servicing, cabin filtration (if applicable), body mount & chassis lubrication, and in most cases tire inflation and/or rotation.

Annually, or every 12K miles

A lot can happen in a year, and this service interval is best performed by a trained professional. Undercarriage components are inspected for surety, body seals are tested, glass is inspected, safety equipment is adjusted, alignments are performed, and yes - that's in addition to the specified service that falls in line sequentially, e.g., the 6K mile service.

Additional service intervals

There are other key service intervals that are imperative to ensuring reliability, safety, and performance. Some of these service intervals are prescribed by the factory; others are usage dependent. If you are diligent about the aforementioned service schedules, you should have good enough sense to carry out the visual portions of these services to identify anything out of the ordinary.

30K, 60K, & 90K Maintenance

This service interval is a critical one and involves what most people know as a "major tune-up." At the 30K, you can expect all the 12K/annual services but can expect the replacement of spark plug wires, spark plugs, drive belts, and air filters. The 60K service includes all 30K services in addition to a cooling system inspection, flush, and service. The 90K includes everything from the 60K service as well as a transmission service, AC service, and fuel system service. Most manufacturers will have service intervals that follow this schedule exactly. Of course, years, makes, models, and regions are all different, so don't be surprised if your owner's manual has some shuffling of these items. If in doubt, always follow your owner's manual.

High mileage maintenance

Most car owners take the 100K mile mark as the "high-mileage" checkpoint. It's something about the 6-figure mark that gets in our heads. Take a look at used car prices for any car for sale at 95,000 miles. Then look at the same car for sale with 101,000 miles. What do you see? If you've kept up with maintenance, the 100K mile mark should be something to brag about and not fear. As a general rule, most manufacturers will suggest that every 100K miles is like resetting the service schedule clock to zero. Your maintenance routine starts over again with intervals now at 103K miles, 105K miles, 106K miles, 112K miles, etc. Additionally, major mechanical inspections are prescribed, including starting/charging systems, fuel delivery systems, suspension systems, ancillary components, and critical engine seals. Anything goes beyond the 100K mile mark, so be prepared to service as needed and recommended.

What happens if you skip or neglect scheduled maintenance?

"Deferred maintenance" is never a good idea. This is otherwise known as running your car into the ground, and that's a sure-fire way to create unwanted headaches. Many scenarios can come into play. Here's a look at some of the most common.

Unexpected breakdowns leave you stranded and are more costly

You neglect your car, and it breaks. Always at the worst time. Then, if your new car warranty is expired, you don't have roadside assistance. The average cost of a private, two-hour tow is $250. And you haven't even diagnosed anything yet. Then comes the fixing. Oh. By the way. Have you found a place to stay during the festivities? And who's paying for that? Isn't it cheaper and easier to pay for scheduled service? The answer is pretty clear.

Something may break and do more damage than if corrected early

For instance, the fan belt. Typically, a $30 part, and about that much more in labor to change it. Easy peasy. But it's been on there for years. It's cracked. Dried. And maybe even frayed. You've been advised to change it. You haven't. It snaps at highway speeds, whips the hood from the inside, and dents it pushing outwards. That's $800 in paint and bodywork. The remainder of the belt quickly wraps around and strangles the water pump and causes it to seize and explode. Assuming the tech can vacuum out the shrapnel from your engine, that's about another $500-$1000. The exploding water pump and belt pieces also take out plastic shrouds. So figure about $500 there. And the grenaded plastic pieces can cause your cooling fan to chip and radiator to get punctured. So figure about $1500 to replace all that. WHAT? It happens ALL. THE. TIME. Isn't it better to spend the $60 and be done with it?

You can void your new car warranty

Most people are unaware of this, but if maintenance cannot be verified by an authorized OEM provider, and there is a serious issue, guess who pays for it? Now you need a brand new engine for today's sophisticated vehicle. So figure about $20K there. And you're still paying your monthly lease or finance payment. It can get pretty ugly. So when you go back to the $9.99 quick-lube place to seek remedy, they will quickly point to the waiver you agreed to printed in 2pt type on the back of your invoice, releasing them of any and all liabilities. But they will thank you for being a loyal customer and will still wish you the best!

Missing critical software updates

Every major component in a modern car is powered by a computer module. Routine software updates and patches need to be installed, and it routinely happens at scheduled service intervals. If you avoid these services, most components of your vehicle will fail. They will look like mechanical problems, but in fact, they're software and could have easily been prevented at the correct scheduled maintenance intervals.

Pro Tip: Keep a Vehicle Maintenance Log

This might sound like an extra step, but in addition to the appendix in your owner's manual, keep a notebook with issues, remedies, and service receipts. If you keep your vehicle a long time, this can boost your resale value by an untold factor. If you look at any 3rd party auto auction and find a collectors vehicle with all records and notes and service intervals stamped, values can reach 6-figures pretty easily depending on the make.

We hope that this article will introduce you to the world of scheduled maintenance and the benefits that lay in store for you. Take the time to read your owner's manual. Tons of useful information is in there, and it will enhance the bond you already have with your freedom machine. The open road and all your amazing memories are out there. Don't miss them!

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