In-Vehicle Maintenance Reminder Systems vs. The Owner’s Manual
Many newer vehicles come equipped with in-vehicle maintenance reminder systems. You might know these as the little messages that pop up on your dash and say, “service due soon!” These systems don’t remind you of every service your vehicle may need. Typically, it’s only for oil changes and tires.
Some car maintenance needs to be done on a time or mileage basis — things like brake fluid or coolant flushes or timing-belt replacement.
But what about older vehicles? The average age of cars on the road today is 12 years old! And many of those don’t have in-vehicle maintenance reminders. Don’t worry. You have the next best thing — flip open the glove box and grab the owner’s manual. It contains “the 411” on all things related to your car. If your car doesn’t have a manual, check online at the automaker’s website. Avoid using forums or social media for this information as it may not be accurate and/or could be based on individual opinions.
Giving your owner’s manual a read — even if it seems boring — is a good idea for any car owner. It’s like an autobiography that will help you to get to know your car very well.
Driving Conditions Matter
It’s important to understand the type of conditions you drive in since it will impact how often your vehicle needs maintenance. What does “driving condition” even mean? Basically, the amount of traffic you sit in during your daily drive and where you drive (rural, city or highway) and obviously the external conditions (dark, wind, snow, fog). Let’s break it down…
Factory maintenance schedules usually follow two options, one for cars driven in “normal” conditions, and another for those used in “severe” conditions. The exact definition of severe conditions varies by automaker, but it usually involves operating your vehicle under one or more of the following:
- Primarily short trips (5 miles or less)
- Extremely hot, cold, or dusty climates
- Sustained stop-and-go driving
- Carrying heavy loads or towing a trailer
If you fall into the severe category, maintain your car using a more frequent maintenance schedule. However, if you drive your car under normal conditions, be wary of spending money on services your car may not need or benefit from.
Drive an electric vehicle (EV)? EVs generally require less maintenance than gas-powered vehicles. Check out “Electric Vehicles – Like Low Maintenance? Look No Further!”