Manufacturers’ Recommendations and Vehicle Maintenance

Fleet of black cars on light background to illustrate manufacturers recommendations and vehicle maintenance

We talk a lot about manufacturers’ recommendations here at the Big Blue M blog. That’s because we deal with them all the time. Whenever we work to bring a damaged vehicle back to its pre-loss condition, we are typically doing the work according to manufacturers’ recommendations.

Part of the McCollum Auto Body guarantee is our pledge that Big Blue M vehicle technicians “undergo rigorous and continual training to stay on top of the latest technologies and manufacturers’ recommendations.”

What are the manufacturers’ recommendations? There are two ways to answer this question.

First, the manufacturers’ recommendations and the related OEM specifications are the guidelines we use to fix your car. When your vehicle leaves one of the McCollum Auto shops, you can be sure that we’ve followed the manufacturers’ recommendations and quality control just as if you had taken your vehicle to a dealership.

Usually, however, when people speak of manufacturers’ recommendations, they’re not referring to the work that goes on behind the scenes in an auto body shop. They’re referring instead to preventive maintenance. These are the suggestions for when a driver should bring their vehicle in for service.

Maintenance Standards

According to the “Auto Repair Basics” page of the Federal Trade Commission, there are consequences to postponing maintenance.

“Many parts on your vehicle are interrelated,” writes the FTC. “Ignoring maintenance can lead to trouble: specific parts — or an entire system — can fail. Neglecting even simple routine maintenance, like changing the oil or checking the coolant, can lead to poor fuel economy, unreliability, or costly breakdowns. It also may invalidate your warranty.”

How can we avoid these problems? By following the manufacturers’ maintenance schedule. You can find it in your owner’s manual.

You should always follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule rather than a mechanic’s. (Let’s face it: They want you in their shop more often!)

The FTC speaks to this, too.

“Some repair shops create their own maintenance schedules, which call for more frequent servicing than the manufacturer’s recommendations,” they write. “Compare shop maintenance schedules with those recommended in your owner’s manual. Ask the repair shop to explain — and make sure you understand — why it recommends service beyond the recommended schedule.”

The AAA agrees.

“Like most motorists, you want to take good care of your vehicle and may wonder how often it needs car maintenance, “ AAA says. “Despite conflicting information from various sources, the answer to this question is actually quite simple. Follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual or service booklet for your car.”

Service Recommendations

There are service recommendations for oil changes, tire rotations, spark plug changes, and more. These will vary by make and model; again, check your owner’s manual. They’ll also vary according to how the vehicle is used — e.g., for short city trips or long, rugged outback treks.

For the most part, however, there are some general rules that all drivers should follow to keep vehicles in tip-top shape.

Most modern vehicles contain sophisticated reminder systems that keep track of service schedules for you. In these vehicles, you’ll see an alert on your dashboard letting you know it’s time to check tire pressure, engine oil, and other fluid levels.

Still, not everybody has a newer vehicle. Besides, it’s good to have this information anyway, because, well, the more you know … ! It’s good to know the basics of basic car maintenance and car care, especially when you set out on that highly anticipated road trip.

Let’s look at some of the more common manufacturers’ recommendations (in alphabetical order).

Air Filters

Unless you live in a super dusty area — which in Oregon and Washington is not all that unusual — you only need to change your air filter every 30,000 miles. If you live where it’s dusty, consider doing it every 15,000 miles.

Batteries

Car battery life is affected by temperature and long periods of dormancy (i.e., not being used). Most batteries last about five years. Your actual battery mileage may vary greatly here since batteries are warranted against time, not mileage.

Brakes

Brake pads and/or shoes start to make horrible metallic scraping noises when they wear out. Don’t let them get that bad. Get them checked every 40,000 miles to 50,000 miles. Your brake fluid will probably last up to 45,000 miles. And the rotors? Have them inspected every 60,000 miles or so. It goes without saying (yet here we are saying it) that your brake system is vital to the safe operation of your vehicle.

Fuel Filters

This is one of those recommendations that can vary a great deal according to make and model. The general rule is that fuel filters should be swapped out every 30,000 miles — but you may not need it.

Oil Changes

The old rule of thumb said to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles. Humbug! Modern vehicles — and even some not-so-modern vehicles — only need their oil changed only once every 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles. Engines that use full-synthetic motor oil can go up to 15,000 miles before they need a change.

Timing Belt

This one’s a doozy. When this goes, everything else stops. You should change your timing belt somewhere between 60,000 miles and 100,000 miles. Get it changed before it goes kaput. It’s gonna be expensive, but then you won’t have to worry about it for a good long while, if ever.

Transmission Fluid

Vehicle transmission fluid for manual (aka stick shift) transmissions should be checked somewhere around 30,000 to 60,000 miles. The lower range is for big trucks and other vehicles that do a lot of towing and heavy-duty work. For vehicles with automatic transmission, the range is even greater: every 30,000 miles to 100,000 miles. Follow the — wait for it! — manufacturers’ recommendations!

McCollum Auto Body

Don’t spend money when you don’t need to. Get in touch with McCollum today to talk about your specific vehicle and its specific needs. We can guide you through all kinds of vehicle maintenance and repairs, including power steering, cooling systems, check engine lights, oil filters, wiper blades, and more.

Drive safe, and we’ll see you out there on the road!

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