Albert Lea Auto Repair

Albert Lea Auto Repair

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What do I need to know about Interval Service of my vehicle?

What do I need to know about Interval Service of my vehicle?

Interval Service is what vehicle manufacturers call their maintenance schedules for their vehicles. The maintenance schedules are different for every manufacturer and can vary from model to model. The maintenance schedule for your vehicle is in the owner’s manual. I know, who looks at an owner’s manual anyway? Well, if you would like to get the maximum life from your vehicle investment, it would be a good idea. Here are a few key points to know before digging out your seldom/never used owner’s manual.

The first thing to determine is how is your vehicle used. Is it considered “normal use” or “severe use”? You might be tempted to say, “I drive my car nice” or “I only drive to the store or work”. I must be a “normal use” driver, right? Most vehicles operated in the United States would be considered “severe use”. Read on to find out why.

Normal Use

What vehicle manufacturers consider “Normal use” is a very narrow window of operation. See if all these conditions apply to you and your vehicle use. Only then will your vehicle fall under the normal use category for vehicle maintenance. This does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Here is a list of industry accepted parameters to operate your vehicle by to be considered acceptable “normal use” for maintenance considerations.

  • Regular commuting. Driving to and from work or school, typically on paved roads and highways without stop-and-go traffic or frequent short trips. Driving far enough for the engine to reach and maintain operating temperature for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • Moderate speeds and acceleration. Driving within the posted speed limits and without consistently operating at very high speeds for extended periods. Like long commutes on the Interstate. Also avoiding aggressive acceleration when driving.
  • Occasional highway driving. Driving on highways or freeways for longer distances at steady speeds below 65 MPH. Which typically places less stress on the vehicle compared to frequent stop-and-go city driving.
  • Moderate temperatures. Operating the vehicle in moderate climates without extreme temperature fluctuations. Such as driving in temperate regions without prolonged exposure to very hot or very cold conditions. Central California, for example, has moderate temperatures and a majority of pleasant, sunny days. Which are good for your vehicle, but the stop-and-go traffic would still exclude you from normal use.
  • Light to moderate loads. Carrying passengers and cargo within the vehicle’s recommended capacity without regularly towing heavy trailers or hauling heavy loads.
  • No vehicle modifications. Any modifications or accessories that change the vehicle ride height or cause additional wind drag would not be considered normal use.
  • Consistent maintenance. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, including regular oil changes, filter replacements, fluid checks, and inspections, as outlined in the owner’s manual.

Severe Use

Most vehicles in the Untied States would fall under the “severe use” category. If your vehicle operates in any of the following conditions, it would be considered “severe use” for vehicle maintenance.

  • Stop-and-go driving. Frequent starts and stops, such as city driving or heavy traffic, can put extra strain on the engine, brakes, and transmission.
  • Short trips. Driving short distances without allowing the engine to reach operating temperature can lead to increased wear on engine components, exhaust systems, and emissions control systems. More frequent service intervals are needed to combat the strain on the vehicle systems.
  • Towing or hauling heavy loads. Transporting heavy loads, towing trailers, or carrying cargo on a regular basis can place additional stress on the engine, transmission, brakes, and suspension.
  • Driving in dusty or off-road conditions. Dusty environments or driving on unpaved roads can lead to increased engine air filter and cabin air filter clogging, as well as accelerated wear on suspension components and undercarriage parts.
  • Extreme temperatures. Operating the vehicle in very hot or very cold climates can affect engine performance, battery life, and fluid life. Like all of Minnesota for example.
  • Driving at Interstate speeds. Consistently driving at high speeds, such as Interstate highways, can lead to increased engine wear, higher fuel consumption, and more frequent brake and tire replacements.
  • Fleet or commercial use. Using the vehicle for fleet work, of any kind, can place additional stress on the engine, transmission, brakes, suspension, and tires.

Manufacturers often provide separate maintenance schedules for vehicles subjected to severe driving conditions, recommending more frequent oil changes, filter replacements, fluid checks, and inspections to compensate for the increased wear and tear. Following these recommendations helps maintain the vehicle’s reliability, performance, efficiency, and longevity under challenging operating conditions.

It is very important to stay on top of your vehicle maintenance to protect your investment and minimize downtime. One more consideration, in relation to manufacturer maintenance schedules, is they are written and designed to show their vehicles are less costly to maintain. They try to push the maintenance intervals out as far as possible, so it looks better on paper. Their only concern is to ensure that the vehicle makes it out of the factory warranty period. For example, let’s look at a 2020 Chevy 1500 Silverado. Under Normal Use conditions they say to change the engine oil and filter within 600 miles of the CHANGE ENGINE OIL SOON indicator showing up on the dash or a minimum of once a year. Unless the oil change indicator gets accidentally reset, then change it at 3000 miles. If you use the vehicle under Severe Use conditions, they say to change the engine oil and filter every 7,500 miles or a minimum of once a year. Unless the oil change indicator gets reset, then change it at 3000 miles. Having experience with these engines in excess of 200,000 miles, we have found that consistent oil changes around the 5000-6000 miles range provides the owner with a much more reliable engine and minimizes engine repairs. We do agree with GM that the oil and filter should be changed annually at a minimum. As GM states above, changing your engine oil every 3000 miles is not out of line. Think of it this way. Regular oil changes are much less expensive than major engine repairs. So, the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedules are to be used as a guideline, not an absolute, if you would like to get the maximum service life out of your vehicle. When you take a step back and look at the big picture. Each of us drives differently and uses our vehicles in different ways. Maintenance schedules need to be evaluated and customized for each vehicle and their owner. Know that regular and consistent vehicle maintenance saves you money, protects your investment, and minimizes down time. Keep your vehicle happy and well lubricated. See the experts at Sanderson Auto Repair today for all your vehicle maintenance and repair needs.

Aaron B.