Ask The Beaverton Car Guy: When your car adds miles, look for these maintenance milestones

By Larry “The Car Guy“ Ferguson

Hello loyal Beaverton Readers!

Thank You to all of you who have written in, called, and emailed. I appreciate the feedback.

Recently I received a call from Carolyn who lives here in Beaverton and she was concerned with services on her vehicle. She had not been going to the Dealership and only been doing oil changes. She asked if I would write about vehicle maintenance: what work is needed and when. So for October, here is my recommended service guide by mileage on your vehicle.

Oil Changes

First, let’s talk oil. Although oil should be changed on a fairly regular basis, you probably don’t need to change it as often as you’ve been told. A commonly cited number is 3,000 miles — The owners manual for your vehicle will tell you how often it really should be performed.

For the last few years, manufacturers have been backing away from the 3,000-mile recommendation because that number is based on older, less efficient oils that were used decades ago. Today, because of the improved lifespan of synthetic oils, many manufacturers suggest a change every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. In fact, getting an oil change every 3,000 miles can actually be wasteful.

There are some reasons you might want to change it more often, however. Driving that includes a lot of stopping or slowing, for example, will put more strain on the engine and use up more oil, so if that’s you, you’ll want to get your oil changed more than once every 7,500 miles. But even then, 3,000 is still too often.

Scheduled Servicing

Scheduled services are recommended by the manufacturer to ensure that your car doesn’t break down, and you’re often required to stick to this car maintenance timetable to keep your warranty intact. Each car has a different schedule, though, so when in doubt, check your owner’s manual.

15,000 Miles

About 15,000 miles down the road, most vehicles are due for their first service. This initial round isn’t too demanding, but it can still run you around $200. It should include an oil change, air filter, tire rotation, and inspection of key parts like the brake and cooling systems.

30,000 Miles

This one will cost you a little more; expect to pay upwards of $500. Why is that? Well, in addition to all of the items on the 15,000-mile itinerary, this service includes new transmission fluid, a fuel filter, and a more thorough inspection.

Your mechanic might also suggest changing your spark plugs at this point. Not necessary! There are different levels of spark plug quality, but few need to be changed every 30,000 miles. In fact, you likely don’t even need to change the transmission fluid at this point.

45,000 Miles

This milestone requires pretty much the same servicing as the 15,000 mark. If you haven’t changed the transmission fluid already, do that now.

60,000 Miles

In addition to the items included in the 30,000-mile service, at 60,000 miles you’ll want to replace all the belts, valves, and hoses that are wearing thin. Depending on the type of spark plugs you have, now would be a reasonable time to switch those out as well.

100,000 Miles

When you finally hit the big 100k, it’s time for the ultimate checkup. It’s a nice round number, your car has served you well, and it’s time to go all-out … right? Well, not necessarily.

There are a few items that generally don’t get addressed until 100,000 miles or more (orange coolant, long-life spark plugs), but 100,000 is nothing special — at least not in terms of car maintenance. Todays vehicles are designed to run way past 100k miles so if you perform your maintenance the way the manufacturer suggests, then you will certainly have a vehicle that will last for years to come.

I hope this article is useful, and that you to all of our loyal readers.

I hope this information was helpful to all of our loyal reader here in Beaverton we do truly appreciate all of you. I can be reached at or on my cell phone (503) 930-1493. Larry’s specialty is locating cars, even hard to find cars, for everyday folk. He has been in the automotive industry for over 35 years and has several degrees in automotive technology.