The maintenance schedule milestones to remember for new cars

The bare minimum of servicing
by Ferman Lao | Mar 29, 2017

Motorists should consider their car's preventive inspection and maintenance schedule as part of the ownership experience. But some new car owners might not take the time to read the material which came with their purchase, as some manuals can be over 500 pages thick.

Thankfully the maintenance schedule guide is a separate, much thinner booklet and is easier to digest. Inside the booklet is brief but important information regarding what owners should expect in terms of the bare minimum required to keep their cars operating as efficiently as possible

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Keep in mind that what's done at each service interval is all very alike, save for certain milestone events wherein long term maintenance items—such as engine coolants, transmission fluid, gear oil, timing or drive belts, and other similar items—must be replaced.

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In case it wasn't clear earlier, these are the bare minimum.

1. The 1,000km check-up. Due to advances in metallurgy, lubricants, and general automotive technology, it doesn't take much to keep engines in tip-top shape. Over the past few years, many cars no longer needed the first 1,000km check-up.

Gone are the days when there was a buildup of excitement and anticipation for your first thousand, but for the few that still bring their rides in for it, there's not much to expect other than the cursory checkup on some of the basic critical systems. Fuel leak, brake systems check, HVAC system check and even proper installation of floor mats is inspected to ensure no untoward incidents happen. Engine oil and filters may be changed, washer fluid, and perhaps engine coolant may be topped up as needed.

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In general, it's more of an additional quality checkup that's meant to catch things that may cause potential problems down the road before they happen; like all preventive maintenance check-ups are meant to be.

You should make it a point to inform your dealership of anything unusual that you may have observed in the kilometers leading up to it, if you haven't already.

2. The 5,000km check-up. Here, some vehicles will require an engine oil and oil filter change apart from the mandatory hunt for fluid leaks. A consumables top up is in order if necessary, too.

By this time most car owners will have become more familiar with the nuances of their chosen vehicle. For many makes and models, the 5,000km checkup is the new 1,000km check-up and won't likely need an oil change under normal driving conditions.

Do keep in mind that with urban traffic these days (the extended idling in gridlock, frequent stop and go, much longer travel times), driving conditions in Metro Manila can't be convincingly called normal by car manufacturer standards. Tires are inspected for uneven wear, the cause addressed and rotated at this point.

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3. The 10,000km check-up. Save for certain makes, it's at this point when new cars are specified to have a mandatory oil change. Don't go cheap and ask for a low-quality engine oil. The lubricants used are what's most compatible for each respective manufacturer's engines and should offer the best performance.

Brake pads, shoes, drive boots, axle joints and parking brake operation are usually on the list of items to be checked. Clutch operation (for manual transmissions), steering and suspension systems are looked at closely as well.

Up until this kilometer reading, there are no major costs involved. Those will come at milestone intervals usually around every 20,000km, with each having an additional sub system added to the list as the mileage adds up.

Keep in mind that when in doubt, refer to your owner's manual and service schedule booklet for the items that need to be performed at each interval, as each make and model may have something specific that needs doing—even among the different variants of the same model.

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PHOTO: orzalaga/Pixabay
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