Keeping up with Changing Car Maintenance Intervals

The statement, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile,” has never been more valid than when comparing today’s tech-rich vehicles to those from a couple of decades ago. Modern cars enjoy many advances over their predecessors; however, those advances have been accompanied by changes in maintenance needs.

According to Don Paxton, AAA Ohio Auto Club’s director of AAA Car Care Plus, the fast pace of manufacturing changes have left many vehicle owners unsure and unaware about the updated maintenance requirements of their cars.

“Years ago, cars didn’t have many systems needing regular maintenance,” said Paxton. “As cars have evolved, manufacturers have layered on systems and features to enhance safety and/or driving pleasure. Many of these additional features must be regularly maintained in order to provide the intended benefit.”

One example is the cabin air filter, which first appeared about 25 years ago, and is present on most modern cars. The purpose of the filter is to keep pollen, dust and other airborne particles out of the air circulating within the cabin. This filter should be changed annually or every 15,000 miles.

Wiper blades are another common item that drivers change less frequently than they should. Rubber wiper blades lose flexibility, harden and crack over time with exposure to cold, heat, sun and the elements. Effectively working wiper blades are essential to safety, and car owners should replace them at least annually.

Proper care of tires is a critical, yet often overlooked maintenance item. As a general rule, vehicles should have their tires rotated, their tire balance checked and their tire sensors reprogrammed every six months or 6,000-8,000 miles. These steps help tires wear evenly and last longer, allowing the owner to get the most value for the money invested in them.

Proper alignment also is essential for keeping tread wear even and extending tire life. Vehicles should have the alignment checked at least annually. If the vehicle begins to pull to one side or the driver notices vibration in the steering wheel, the alignment should be tested sooner.

How to make sense of it all? Paxton recommends that car owners start by becoming familiar with the recommended maintenance intervals outlined in their car’s manual. Following those guidelines will prevent many problems before they arise, save money in the long run and help keep the vehicle operating safely and smoothly.

Brenda Suttles is brand manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club.