Getting Comfortable With Your Owner’s Manual: What Can Be Stretched and What Can’t

April 19, 2018

Your owner’s manual is the key to a well kept car. Not only are most of the recommendations for service on point, they may be required to keep your warranty if your vehicle has one. However, note that we said most. There are always ways to pinch a penny with your car, and what your owner’s manual suggests may not be absolutely necessary on most vehicles.

Please note that if you are using your vehicle under heavy stress situations, such as pulling heavy loads or using it as a plow, adhere rigidly to your owner’s manual. Your vehicle deserves it.

Oil Changes

A few million years ago, the standard for changing your oil was every 3000 miles. Not only did people infrequently do this, we discovered ways to force even more life out of your oil and oil filter. Today’s vehicles are often good to go for a bit longer than the 5000-ish miles suggested in common owner’s manuals.

So how do you tell if your car really needs a change or if it’s good to go a bit longer? Pop your hood, look at the color of your oil and judge it yourself. Good oil shouldn’t be darker than real maple syrup and ideally a little darker than honey. There’s really no good reason to change clean oil other than to reassure ourselves that our oil is indeed clean.

All this said, we don’t recommend skimping on an oil change if your oil is dark, smells strangely or is a thicker viscosity than it should be.

Tire Rotations

Tire rotations can easily be done at home after oil changes instead of dealing with a tire and lube shop. That said, unless your vehicle has a serious problem, tire rotations shouldn’t need to be done every time you change the oil in your car.

If money is tight, feel free to do those rotations every other or every third time that you change the oil in your car, rather than the recommended every single time your owner’s manual states.

Our single condition here is that if you notice uneven wear on your tires, get them rotated immediately. If they continue to wear unevenly, get your vehicle checked out. There are a wide number of problems that could be the culprit and none of them are a good thing to drive with.

Tune-Ups

Tune-ups are another simple car thing that you can wait a while to perform. Though any sounds beneath the hood or a skipping sensation should be checked out immediately, most vehicles can run for an extra thousand miles or two before you need to do a tune-up.

We do recommend that tune-ups be a regular part of your vehicular maintenance. The longer you drive your car, the more comfortable you’ll become with it’s needs. A certain way your car pulls and you’ll know it’s time to rotate the tires. A certain aroma might remind you that you forgot to change the oil 500 miles ago. Getting to know your car inside and out is half the fun of driving.

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