Many auto mechanics contribute the myth of needing to change your oil every 3,000 miles to the brain child of marketing gurus at Jiffy Lube or the likes. The fact is, you’re wasting money and polluting the environment if you’re changing your vehicles oil more frequent than every 5,000 miles. Believe it or not, some cars don’t need their oil changed more frequent than every 10,000-15,000 miles. Here’s a guide for most cars to give you an idea of how frequently you should change the oil. Listen to the “Auto Debunkers” radio public service announcement
This doesn’t mean however, that it’s a bad idea to routinely check tire pressure and coolant levels every 3,000 miles, it’s free and easy and the cost of not doing so may mean big expenses for not catching small problems. Not to mention, under inflated tires can decrease your gas mileage by up to 6%! Most new tire purchases come with free tire rotation too, take advantage of them to extend the life of your tires.
Next up, the dreaded air filter, it seems every time you go to have your oil changed the guys tell you to change your air filter. How is this possible though? The life of the average air filter is typically 20,000-30,000 miles. The fact is, air filters are supposed to be slightly dirty, a slightly dirty one, believe it or not, is better than a brand new filter. See, when debris is present, it actually helps stop smaller particles from getting through to the engine. There is a caveat for country drivers who find themselves on dirt or gravel roads more often than paved, their filters will typically have only half the life of filters used by paved drivers.
The final item for this article with regards to car maintenance you may be wasting money on is tune-ups. See, dealerships like to tell you that you need these, when in fact, there is nothing to tune-up besides spark plugs. Most cars made within the last 15 years are made with computers that control your cars fuel injection, idle, and other parts that you used to have to manually adjust. If a spark plug were to foul out, you would certainly know it.
In summary, the best way to avoid unnecessary costs when taking your car in for service is to question everything. If you don’t feel comfortable that you know why you’re spending money on some additional part or service, tell them you want to think it over (or you don’t have the money now, you will do it later), and this will allow you the time to either get a 2nd or 3rd opinion, or to allow you the time to do research at home on your own. As a general rule remember cars have gotten smarter and don’t require the same maintenance they once did.