It’s no secret that regular maintenance on your vehicle will extend the life of your engine and save you from costly repairs down the road.  If you’re lazy (like me), or lack the basic mechanical skills (also like me), then you probably take your vehicle to an expert when it’s time for service.

We seem to have been conditioned to believe that we need to change our engine oil and filter every 5,000 kilometres, or every three months, whichever comes first. That’s what the local Mr. Lube service technician recommends whenever I bring my vehicle in for an oil change.

How Often Should You Service Your Vehicle?

Of course, the technician also bombards me with up-selling recommendations. Air filters, engine flushes, transmission fluid changes, coolant services, and fuel system cleanings, to name a few, all come with hefty price tags and stern warnings to take immediate action.

So, how often should you service your vehicle? This table shows the difference between the owner’s manual recommendations and the guidelines offered by Mr. Lube:

Service Owner’s Manual Mr. Lube Cost
Engine Oil and Filter 6 months or 6,000 KM 3 months or 5,000 KM $54.99
Cabin Air Filter 24 months or 48,000 KM 20,000 – 40,000 KM $54.99
Fuel Tank Air Filter 24 months or 48,000 KM 20,000 – 40,000 KM $64.99
Coolant Fluid Change 24 months or 48,000 KM 40,000 – 60,000 KM $99.99
Transfer Case Service Every 100,000 KM Every 40,000 KM $59.99
Automatic Transmission Fluid 84 months or 168,000 KM 40,000 – 60,000 KM $129.99

I’m only driving approximately 12,000 – 15,000 kilometres each year, and I normally take my vehicle in for an oil change every six months. I follow the owner’s manual for the other service recommendations, which usually means brushing off repeated requests from the service technician for a few visits.

Related: Why does my car dealer want to buy back my car?

Following the owner’s manual recommendations for these service intervals has saved me nearly $500 over the last three years.

The more you change your oil, the longer your engine will last, but the debate about exactly how often you should service your vehicle is a bit of a grey area. The owner’s manual may tell you every 6,000 – 10,000 kilometres. Your buddy with a classic car may tell you every 3,000 – 5,000 kilometres. Your Grandpa, who drives a 25-year-old truck, might tell you he’s never changed the oil in his vehicle.

The optimum time to change your oil might be more closely related to other factors besides time and distance travelled. The number of cold-starts, driving in extreme temperatures, repeated short distance driving, and excessive idling are all signs of severe driving conditions and more frequent maintenance should be considered.

How often do you service your vehicle?

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