How often should an owner change their engine oil?

How often should a transmission be flushed and fluid replaced?

Are there other considerations for rear wheel or four wheel drive vehicles?

At what mileage point(s) should maintenance occur?

Is this maintenance expensive?

These are all great questions that all owners should ask themselves.

Unfortunately, the answers are often prefaced with, “it depends.” The answers and maintenance needs depend on the driving habits of the operator, conditions where the vehicle is driven and loads imposed on the vehicle.

The drive trains of today’s vehicles are capable of operating for 200,000 to 500,000 miles.

The expense to change fluids which enable this longevity, cost between $ 50 and $ 200.

The parts these fluids protect may cost $ 1,500 to $ 10,000 to repair or replace.

Upon reaching the 80,000-100,000 mile point, the fluids have outlived their useful lifespan and should be changed to continue protecting the engine and drive train.

The math is simple, perform routine fluid change maintenance and extend the working life of your vehicle.

Most of today’s vehicles recommend or require the use of synthetic oils to support the higher operating temperature and performance levels. Synthetic oils can last longer and outperform under extreme conditions without the residual sludge build up of traditional oil.

One thing consumers should be aware of is the difference between oil labeled as synthetic and true synthetic oil. Many “synthetic” oils are actually conventional petroleum derivatives with additional purification and synthetic additives. True synthetic oil is nearly entirely man made.

This higher quality product will improve fuel economy and protect your engine for longer periods between changes. They also reduce our dependency on oil based products and reduced waste.

While true synthetics are more expensive to purchase, they are more economical long term because they need to be replaced less often.

High-end synthetic oil can last 25,000 miles which is 5 times or longer that low-end synthetics or traditional oils.

High-end synthetic drive train fluids can last 250,000 miles which is more than twice as long as traditional fluids.

Typical maintenance Schedules
Maintenance Item  Schedule
Oil Traditional 3,000 miles
Synthetic 5,000 miles
High-End Synthetic 25,000 miles

Transmission Fluid  30,000 – 60,000 miles

Differential Fluids  60,000 – 100,000 miles

Timing Belts  60,000 – 100,000 miles

Replacing fluids and belts will reduce the incidence of expensive repairs.

Most transmission failures are caused directly by fluid failure.

Engine coolant used beyond its useful life will generate corrosion particles which act as sandpaper, destroying gaskets and eroding interior metal surfaces.

Broken timing belts can often result in a totaled vehicle due to the massive damage caused by the failure.

Fuel Injection maintenance can eliminate carbon buildup in the engine and fuel system improving performance and fuel economy.

Spending $ 500 per year in preventative maintenance can add years to the service life of your vehicle and reduce or eliminate the incidence of expensive repairs.

Sam Postema owner of Professional Fleet Services has over 16 years in the automotive repair industry. Your Lansing Auto Repair Experts!

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