At less than 35,000 miles, most new cars are still under warranty, so anything that breaks prematurely, such as a leaking brake caliper or a burned out wiper motor, should be fixed at no cost. However, warranties don’t generally cover wear and tear items like brake pads and wiper blades, so it’s important to check those regularly and replace as needed for proper function and safety. Regular maintenance is important to protect your investment and prevent problems later, after that new-car warranty expires.
First and foremost, when you hit that 35,000-mile mark, it’s probably time for an oil and filter change. Oil change recommendations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and some vehicles have systems that monitor your driving style and conditions, as well as the condition of the oil, and then send a message when it’s time for an oil change.
For example, when a vehicle is used in a lot of stop and go driving, a dusty environment or in heavy load conditions like towing a trailer, the system may suggest more frequent oil changes to protect the engine. On the other hand, drivers that do a lot of highway commuting at constant speeds may be able to go longer between changes. Drivers should check the maintenance section of their owner’s manual or their dealer’s service department for what the manufacturer recommends.
Another part of any car or truck that benefits from regular maintenance is the tires. Like the oil in the engine, tire life will depend a lot on how the vehicle is used, but it also varies depending on the type of tire. High-performance, speed-rated tires often found on sportier cars tend to wear out faster because the soft rubber treads that enhance traction also get shaved off during hard cornering.
Whether your ride is rolling on summer performance tires, all-season radials or off-road specials, the tire pressures should be checked at least once a month and the treads should be examined while you’re down there at the corners. Tires showing less than the manufacturer-recommended tread depth should be replaced. Always have your tires rotated according to manufacturer recommendations so that they wear evenly and last as long as possible.
While the wheels are off for rotation, it’s a good idea to take a look at the brakes. The brake pads, particularly those on the front corners, will probably be substantially thinner by 35,000 miles. Many brake pads will have a visible metal wear indicator clip that will scrape against the rotor and squeal when pads are too thin. If the clip is touching or very close to the surface of the rotor, it’s about time to change them.
At the same time, check the surface of the brake rotors where the pads grip. They should look clean and free of deep grooves or discoloration that indicates overheating. If the rotors have grooves or other signs of uneven wear, strange colors or dark areas, the rotors should be either machined or replaced.
Brake line connections, drive-shaft seals and various hoses should be checked for signs of leaks and then corrected. Suspension and steering links should be examined to make sure everything remains tight. If the air filter hasn’t already been replaced by 35,000 miles, it’s almost certainly time to put in a clean one so that the engine can breathe properly. Also under the hood, fluid levels for the brakes, power steering, coolant and washer fluid should all be checked and topped off as needed, and accessory drive belts should be inspected for cracks or other signs of wear. In some cases, transmission or differential fluids may also need to be replaced at 35,000 miles.
Drivers should also turn on headlights, turn signals and warning flashers to check for burned out bulbs and replace them as needed.
Since different vehicles have varying levels of equipment, drivers should always check their owner’s manuals to determine what other items might need service such as pollen filters in the ventilation system or filters for vented seats. Any questions you have about what is required and when can be answered by the service advisors at your dealer.
These things take less time than you think, and your dealer is always there to help. Considering the tens of thousands of dollars you probably paid for that shiny car or truck, it’s worth spending a couple of hours to keep it running like new for many years to come.