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Owning a car involves more than just driving it. You also should follow the car maintenance schedule to keep the vehicle running and in great shape.

Written by the automakers, the car maintenance schedule tells vehicle owners when to have certain preventative work performed on their car or truck.

The most common items on a maintenance schedule include oil changes, tire rotations and tune-ups, but there are other important services to include as part of your maintenance schedule.

How maintenance schedules work

When you buy or lease a new car, the owner’s manual usually contains a maintenance schedule for you to follow. You must follow this schedule if you do not want to void your warranty.

Most automakers offer these maintenance services through the dealership for a reasonable cost, though you can opt to take your car or truck to a mechanic of your choice as long as you keep a good record of any maintenance completed on it.

Even if you buy a used vehicle, you should follow the maintenance schedule to properly maintain it. As a vehicle gets older, certain components might wear out and need replacement.

In addition to regular maintenance, such as oil changes, a car maintenance schedule tells you when to replace the components or have a mechanic look at them.

Importance of a maintenance schedule

Not following a maintenance schedule often leads to a malfunctioning vehicle. Even a small thing, such as skipping an oil change, can damage your car.

As is most often the case, a small problem in one area can lead to bigger problems later. By following a regular maintenance schedule, you can prevent small problems from becoming bigger ones.

When to do maintenance

The timing of your vehicle maintenance depends primarily on the service the car needs. Services like oil changes and tire rotations happen more frequently than tune-ups. By properly following your car’s maintenance schedule, you can almost ensure that your vehicle runs properly for many years to come. The common services on a maintenance schedule and when you usually need to have them performed include the following:

  • Oil changes

    Changing your oil represents the most basic maintenance task on your car. While some people say to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles, newer cars and oils typically extend this figure to 7,000 miles.

  • Tire rotation

    Rotating your tires on a regular basis can save them from uneven wear. Most new car maintenance plans require a tire rotation every 5,000 miles or so, or in about the same time period that you get an oil change.

  • Air filter

    The air filter is often overlooked when having car maintenance performed. To ensure that your vehicle’s fuel system receives the clean air it needs, have your air filter changed at least every 15,000 miles.

  • Brake pads

    Properly maintaining your brake pads is not just important for vehicle safety. Worn brake pads can damage crucial components in the braking system, costing you more in repairs going forward. Get your brake pads changed at least every 60,000 miles.

  • Battery

    The battery represents a common component that needs replacing. You should at least inspect the battery at 35,000 miles and replace it if necessary.

  • Tuneups

    A tuneup involves replacing worn spark plug wires and fouled spark plugs. In general, you should get a tuneup every 60,000 miles to make sure your vehicle continues to run properly.

  • Radiator flush

    Radiator coolant gets dirty over time as it cycles through the engine while helping to keep it cool. You should get your coolant changed and your radiator flushed at least every 60,000 miles, or sooner if it starts to look dirty.

  • Transmission flush

    While the transmission usually is not an item to worry about when having maintenance performed on your vehicle, it does need some care once in a while.

You should get fresh transmission fluid put into your vehicle and have the filter cleaned at least every 100,000 miles, although some mechanics say you should do it every 50,000 miles.

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Conclusion

Keep in mind that the above estimates are only that. You should check with your specific vehicle manual for the accurate intervals of each service as it pertains to your vehicle.

Properly following a car maintenance schedule helps ensure that your vehicle lasts many years and increases its value if you decide to resell it.

READ MORE: Top 10 check engine light car repairs

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