Maintenance intervals for all the little things: fluid, wipers, tires, brakes, etc.

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6 min read

It takes careful maintenance to keep a car running smoothly. Sure, we all know to fill up the gas when the tank is empty…and that you need to change a tire when it’s flat. Most car owners also know that the engine oil needs to be replaced every 3,000-5,000 miles.

These are the easy bits. But there are actually a bunch of smaller car parts that play a role in keeping your vehicle fit for the road. Each part has its own maintenance interval—that’s the amount of time before it needs looking at—and these components all need regular checks, refills, and/or replacing. Often, these are the car maintenance bits we feel less sure about. Do you know how often to replace your tires? Or when to change your wipers? (It’s OK if not! Sometimes even us car pros forget about these too…).

To help you keep that car healthy, we’ve put together a maintenance guide for all the little things that deserve a bit of TLC now and again.

wiper blades

Having your wipers in good working order is crucial for visibility and safe driving in wet weather. (Don’t wait for a rainy day to figure out they’ve stopped working properly!)

Wiper blades are made out of rubber so over time they degrade. How long they last can depend on the quality of the blade but the telltale signs are squeaking, streaking, or smearing.

When to replace? Every 6-12 months.

brake pads

You’ll probably have a good idea that your brake pads are wearing thin—for starters, it could take a bit longer for your car to stop, and you might start to hear a loud screeching sound. There could also be a flashing light on your dash telling you that the pads are worn.

Brake pads are designed to wear out and how quickly that happens depends on a lot of factors, like how often you drive and whether you do more highway-style cruising or do a lot of stop-start city driving. You don’t need us to tell you that brakes are super important—so don’t ignore the signs that they need replacing.

When to replace? Every 30,000-70,000 miles

brake rotors

Brake rotors are the metal discs that the brake pads squeeze tight when your car needs to slow down. Over time the heat and friction can cause them to lose shape and become less effective. Again, it’s super important to keep these in tune.

When to replace? About every 60,000 miles

brake fluid

As you might have guessed, this is another key component. It provides the hydraulic force used to power the brakes when you press down on the pedal. Old fluid can result in a decline in your brakes. The more you use your car, the more you’ll want to drain and replace the fluid, but you can’t over do it, so if in doubt, give your brakes a refresher.

When to replace? Every 20,000-45,000 miles

transmission fluid

Transmission fluid lubricates the bearings and metal parts in your car’s manual gearbox and if you drive an automatic, it provides hydraulic pressure too. Just like brake fluid, transmission fluid loses its potency over time and heavy use and lots of stop-start driving will cause it to deteriorate more quickly. When it’s in good form, it looks pink and smells sweet. When it’s time to change it goes darker and can smell bad.

When to change? Every 30,000-60,000 miles for a manual, up to 100,000 miles for an automatic.

tires

Always maintain the correct air pressure in your tires. Firstly, it’s good practice for safe driving. Secondly, it will increase the life of your tires. But the bonus is that it will improve your fuel economy—that’s right, it will save you money on gas.

You’ve got to keep an eye on the tread as well. To check for depth, place a penny into the tread groove with Lincoln’s head going face down. If the top of his head disappears—the tread is OK. If you can see his entire head, it’s time for a change.

When to replace? Approximately every six years.

power steering fluid

If you drive a car with power steering then you owe a lot to this specialized fluid that amps up every turn of the wheel. It doesn’t need changing too often, but it’s important not to overlook it.

When to change? Every 70,000 miles.

spark plugs

These are one of the most important components in your engine. Spark plugs ignite the fuel and fire up your engine, but over time they wear down. When this happens they become less efficient, cost you extra fuel, and sometimes stop working completely. Conventional spark plugs need to be replaced more frequently, while long-life spark plugs (these have iridium or platinum tips) can last much longer.

When to replace? Every 30,000-50,000 miles for regular plugs, or 60,000-150,000 for long life ones.

Basic car maintenance doesn’t have to break the bank, but keeping on top of your car maintenance intervals can be a challenge. If you forget to replace a component or refresh your car fluids in time it can lead to more problems that may require more attention from a mechanic, or leave a dent in your car value.

If you are falling behind on the upkeep of a car, and don’t want to fork out on the repairs, it may be a sign that it’s time for an upgrade. Perhaps it’s time to get a vehicle that requires less maintenance (they do exist, you know!). Or maybe you just want to just get rid of your car and rely on other means of transport.

Whatever the reason, if it’s time to move on from your old car, let us know at Peddle. Well maintained, or a glorious hunk of junk, we’ll still make you an offer in minutes.