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Mileage vs. Time: How to Schedule Maintenance for Your Car

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Mileage vs. Time: How to Schedule Maintenance for Your Car


If you own a car, you probably know regular maintenance is essential to keep it in good condition and prevent costly repairs. But how often should you schedule car maintenance? Should you follow the mileage intervals recommended by the manufacturer or the time intervals suggested by your mechanic? Keep reading as the experts from Alta Insurance Services, San Diego’s premier provider of affordable, reliable auto insurance, explore the pros and cons of both approaches to help you decide which one is best for your car.

Mileage-Based Maintenance

Mileage-based maintenance is the most common way of scheduling car service. These guidelines are provided by the car’s manufacturer and specify how many miles you should drive before performing certain tasks, such as changing the oil, replacing the air filter, and rotating the tires. For example, most cars require an oil change every 5,000 miles or so.

The advantage of mileage-based maintenance is that it’s based on the actual wear and tear your car’s components experience, which depends on how much you drive. If you drive a lot, you’ll need more frequent service to keep your car running smoothly. If you drive less often, you can save money and time by extending the intervals between service appointments.

The disadvantage of mileage-based maintenance is that it doesn’t account for other factors that can affect your car’s condition, such as driving habits, weather conditions, and road quality. For example, if you drive mostly in stop-and-go traffic, in extreme temperatures, or on rough roads, your car may need more frequent attention than the mileage intervals suggest.

Time-Based Maintenance

Time-based maintenance is another way of scheduling car service. It means you follow a set maintenance schedule regardless of how many miles you drive. For example, you may decide to change your oil every six months or check your brakes every year.

The advantage of time-based maintenance is that it’s more convenient and easy to remember. You don’t have to keep track of your mileage or worry about missing an essential service due to low mileage. You can simply mark your calendar and schedule your service accordingly.

The disadvantage of time-based maintenance is that it may not be optimal for your car’s performance and longevity. If you drive a lot, you may end up servicing your car too late, which can lead to problems and damage. If you drive less, you may end up servicing your car too often, which can be wasteful and unnecessary.

Choosing Your Scheduling Method

Selecting the best method for scheduling your car’s maintenance depends on several factors, such as:

  • Your car’s make, model, and year
  • Your car’s warranty and service plan
  • Your driving habits and conditions
  • Your personal preference and budget

In general, it’s advisable to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for mileage-based maintenance, as they’re designed to suit your specific car and its features. However, you should also consider the time factor and adjust your schedule accordingly. For example, if you drive fewer than 10,000 miles annually, you should still change your oil at least once a year. If you drive more than 15,000 miles per year, you should check your brakes more often than the manufacturer suggests.

Warning Signs & Flexibility

While following manufacturer recommendations is important, it’s equally crucial to pay attention to warning signs and be flexible with your maintenance schedule. Certain signs, such as strange noises, vibrations, or warning lights, should never be ignored, irrespective of mileage or time. Regularly inspecting your vehicle and addressing any issues promptly can prevent more significant problems down the line. 

Ultimately, the best way to schedule car maintenance is to consult with a trusted mechanic who can inspect your car and advise you on what needs to be done and when. A good mechanic will take into account both the mileage and the time factors and tailor a service plan that suits your car’s needs and your expectations.

In addition to scheduling regular maintenance for your car, having adequate auto insurance is essential to protect yourself and your investment. For affordable, reliable car insurance, trust the professionals at Altra Insurance Services. In addition to auto insurance, we offer a wide range of insurance coverage, including business, homeowners, and motorcycle insurance. San Diego residents should give us a call today at (619) 404-6311 to learn how our commitment to personal service sets us apart from other insurance providers.

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