Scheduling Car Maintenance by Mileage: Your Checklist

Feb 18, 2021 3 min read

Recommended Maintenance Schedule

Your car’s odometer can clue you in on when to perform necessary vehicle maintenance. Many car manufacturers recommend a 30-60-90 schedule, which means that certain items will need to be inspected, changed or replaced at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles. Here are the mileage milestones to watch for and what to check your car for when you hit them.

Routine Car Maintenance: 0–30,000 miles

Keep your new car running like new for years to come by getting in the habit of performing regular maintenance.

5,000 miles

Schedule an oil change every 5,000 miles. If you drive an older, less efficient vehicle, the owner’s manual might recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles. Opt for synthetic oil, which has a longer lifespan than conventional motor oil. Change the oil filter, too.

10,000 miles

Rotate the tires. Continue rotating the tires every 6,000–8,000 miles to ensure even wear and to prolong the life of the treads. To cut down on trips to the mechanic for routine car maintenance, ask to have your tires rotated at every oil change.

15,000 miles

Change the engine air filter. It’s good practice to change the air filter every 15,000 miles or so, especially if you park or drive in a dusty environment.

20,000 miles

Plan to replace the brake pads every 10,000 to 20,000 miles. If your brakes start squeaking, that’s a sign that your pads are wearing thin.

Routine Car Maintenance: 30,000–60,000 miles

Once you’ve put a number of miles on your vehicle, maintenance becomes more important than ever. Routine checks and fixes may start to cost a bit more, but preventative measures are almost always cheaper than repairs.

30,000 miles

Keep your brakes working properly by changing the brake fluid sometime between 20,000 to 45,000 miles. Follow the instructions according to your vehicle’s manual to bleed the brake system’s old fluid and replace it with new fluid or take it in to your local mechanic for assistance. This is also a good time to have the coolant flushed and to check the entire coolant system for any leaks or damage.

36,000 miles

Whether you bought new or used, your manufacturer’s warranty likely expires after 36,000 miles. Take the car in for a checkup to make sure all of the systems covered under the “bumper to bumper” warranty, which may include suspension, heating and air conditioning and car audio, are in good working order. The brakes should also be inspected.

50,000 miles

The 50,000-mile service is a particularly important milestone in your car maintenance schedule. When your car hits 50,000 miles, you’ll need to replace worn parts such as brake pads; install a new fuel filter; and drain and replace the automatic transmission fuel and filter. The exhaust system, muffler, catalytic converter and suspension components should also be inspected and worn parts should be swapped out. Check the tires, too. The average tire is designed to drive around 50,000 miles, but this can vary based on different factors. If your car is used, make sure you ask for maintenance records, so you know which services have been completed. Head to the mechanic to take care of the rest, depending on the mileage. 

60,000 miles

All of the belts, valves and hoses should be inspected for wear and replaced, if needed. It’s also time to replace the spark plugs and install new tires. This also may be a good time to change the battery, depending on how many miles you drive each year. Most batteries last about five years, which is when the typical driver hits 50,000 to 60,000 miles.

Routine Car Maintenance: 60,000–100,000 miles

Hopefully, by the time you hit the six-figure range, the car has been paid off and you’re able to invest even more in its upkeep. Keep in mind that the better you maintain the vehicle, the more you’ll be able to get for it when it’s time to trade it in or sell it.

75,000 miles

Flush and replace your power steering fluid. If your steering feels becomes heavy or excessively noisy when you turn the wheel, that’s a sign that the power steering fluid is low and needs to be replenished.

90,000 miles

Check and change all rubber hoses as needed. As rubber ages, cracks can form, so it is important to check the hoses before a hose breaks entirely.

100,000 miles

Add high-mileage coolants and spark plugs. Schedule a thorough inspection that includes assessments of the transmission, water pump, timing belt and other components that start to fail as the vehicle hits this “high mileage” milestone. Automatic transmission fluid should also be changed at this point, if it wasn’t already replaced. Keep in mind, too, that while most new cars have iridium or titanium spark plugs that can last up to 100,000 miles, copper spark plugs are still in use and typically need to be replaced by 30,000 miles.

Routine Car Maintenance: 100,000 miles and beyond

If the car has been properly maintained up to this point, it should be able to have a lifespan of well over 200,000 miles.

125,000 miles

It’s time to change the O2 sensors and inspect the air conditioning compressor and belt tensioner, installing new parts as needed. Replace the coolant, fuel filter, brake fluid, shocks and struts, monitor the suspension, and get a vehicle alignment. 

180,000 miles

Inspect the seals on the vehicle’s axles and drive shafts and replace those that are leaking. Also clean the airflow sensor, inspect the timing chain and engine and transmission mounts, and change the power steering fluid.

250,000 miles

Clean the fuel injectors, inspect the chassis and check the catalytic converter for damage to ensure the car isn’t releasing harmful pollutants.

Scheduling car maintenance by mileage milestones can keep your car running well for many, many miles. Stay on top of the most important maintenance milestones with this car maintenance checklist.

Infographic: Car Mileage Milestones

Protection From Day One

Performing the vehicle maintenance recommended for each mileage milestone is just one step toward staying safe on the road. Get the protection you need from day one with auto insurance from Farm Bureau. Contact your Farm Bureau agent to get the coverage you need today.

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