Service Tip of the Week: When Should I Come In?

Editor’s note: Every week, Waikem’s Fixed Ops Director David Sams gives you his Service Tip of the Week. This week, Dave is covering when you should bring the car in for service.

Service Tip of the Week: When Should I Come In?

I was told I need maintenance.  How do I know I really need it? What schedule should I use?

One of the areas of most misunderstanding is the maintenance that needs to be performed on a vehicle.  There are several items to consider when deciding what recommendation to follow.

  1. How do I drive the car? City or Highway
  2. Where do I drive the car?
  3. Where do I live?
  4. What does the manufacturer call for?

If the car is driven local city and under 5-10 miles per day, that can be more stressful than highway driving.  It is due to a couple of items:

  1. Driving less than 10 miles per day and under 50 miles per hour does not heat up the engine enough to vaporize the moisture that condenses in the cold engine crankcase (like on the outside of a glass of iced tea).  That condensation then mixes with impurities in the oil and forms sludge. If you go long enough, that may cause obstructions in the oil passages and may cause significant engine wear.  That is why there is given a time and mileage interval for oil changes.  It is usually given in both months and miles (i.e., 3 months or 3750 miles).
  2. A cold engine driven short distances runs in a very rich mode on cold starts and will remain there until sufficient heat is present to efficiently burn the fuel/air mixture for best emissions and mileage.  Driving short distances hurts your fuel mileage and the extra fuel mixes with the oil and can wash off some of the lubrication on the cylinder walls.
  3. In town driving is harder on tires due to the many turns, stops and starts not to mention the potholes we encounter.
  4. In town driving is harder on brakes since there are many stops to be made at stop signs, intersections, or other destinations.

Highway driving at reasonable speeds has a few benefits:

  • Your engine gets warm and burns off the moisture
  • Your tires get more even wear since there are usually less turns than in the city
  • Your brakes last longer since the vehicle is driven for longer distances that are not interrupted with stops.
  • Your oil changes are normally stretched out due to highway driving, unless there are other conditions that may change the circumstances.

If I live in a rust belt state (Ohio is one) or in a cold climate (Ohio is one) or Short distance driving daily or in the heat of the western states, there are different guides for maintaining your car.  Read and follow the manufacturer guides regarding normal or severe maintenance.  To decide which guide to follow, you must read the list of conditions spelled out by the manufacturer.  Those conditions usually spell out the normal guideline characteristics. There is also listed a set of conditions that state that if one of the conditions applies to your driving area, then you should follow the severe service schedule.  That will prolong the life of your vehicle, protect your investment and give you many more miles of safe predictable motoring.

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About Jeff Russ

Lead blogger and content writer for the Waikem Auto Family in Massillon, Ohio. Product specialist in Ford, Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Mitsubishi models. 2008 Graduate of Kent State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Married to wife Christina. Resides in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

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