Monday, June 19, 2006

Car maintenance Schedule

I have a second hand 1999 mazda protégé car which has done 85K. Here are the list of things I do to keep the car in good condition

1. I change oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. I tend to be flexible on the date, but I don’t exceed the 3,000 mile limit
2. Once every two months or so, I check the engine coolant, power steering fluid, and washer fluid, and add if the level falls bellow full mark. I also check brake fluid, low level of brake fluid is an indicate that brake pads needs to be changed.
3. I take the car for emission inspection every year (required in Bellevue, WA)
4. I do wheel alignment only after the car blanks to the left or right once hands are taken of the steering wheel. i.e I know for sure the wheel alignment is out.
5. Air filter is changed on every 3rd or 4th oil changes (If I see that it is visibly dirty)
6. I look at the tire to see if they look properly inflated during every other gas refill.
7. The radiator coolant is changed every 20K miles or so @ jiffy lube
A shortcut is to take the car to jiffy lube for oil change, they do OK job with filling fluids and checking the tire pressure.

One of the things I didn’t do, is buy all four tires from discount store like costco or sams club. I know sams club offers free wheel balancing and wheel rotation every 15K miles. It’s a good deal.

Other recommended tips include
1. clean the radiator grill every 12,000 or so miles
2. park the car in shade. Helps to keep the paint gloss and lowers evaporation of fuel from gas tank
3. keep a jumper cable in the car, just incase you want jump startup the car
4. befriend a local car mechanic by taking the car to him for repair. This helps the mechanic to know the car and most likely he will recommend only repair that is required.

Driving Tips
1. I don’t drive the car with a/c on unless its hot. I like to drive with windows down and wind blowing into my face. This site ( says Driving without using the car's air conditioning increases fuel efficiency by 2.5 miles per gallon. But driving with windows down should reduce the fuel efficiency but who cares!!!
2. During winter with mild temperatures, Instead of using the heat, I use engine heat to warm the inside of car while driving. If the intake to set to outside air and temperature knob is turned hot, engine heat can be used to warm the inside. Some thing I found using necessity is the mother of invention principle when once in a while, my previous car blower would fail to work.
3. I accelerate slowly and use power brake (lower the gears) when ever I can.
4. I did not speed much. With mazda protégé you cant speed. But going above 60 is bad for gas mileage.

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