My car turned over to 150k miles last February. It’s at about 153k now. I was thinking of having it serviced at the oil change in February. They always come out in the midst of the oil change and recommend this or that. This time, however, they recommended $4,000 worth of work. I laughed and said, “Well, it’s obviously untrue that it suddenly needs all that, or I’m sure some of it would have come up during the last oil change.” The service tech had no response, really, other than that these repairs should be done, or disaster would strike me. I’m sure they just wanted the estimated service to exceed the value of the car, so that I would think I needed a new one.
Needless to say, I’m only going to use that dealership for oil changes, which come cheaper there than at most other places around here. I’ll probably go to a Jiffy Lube or something similar for other service and repairs.
I still feel like I should have something serviced, but I know little about cars. It’s a 1999 Nissan Altima. I’ve had it for, oh, about 8 years. I put maybe 12,000 miles on it a year. I was thinking maybe a new fuel filter and a new oil filter. I had them do the air filter when they changed the oil, but that was the only one of their $4k recommendations I took.
This car runs great, and I love it. Within the past few years I’ve had a new water pump, drive belt, battery, power steering hoses, brake pads/resurfaced rotors, and a new alternator. I also got a new radiator and fuel pump at some point in the last four or five years.
I checked the manual, but all it really says is spark plugs. Everything else it just says to “inspect”. What, if anything else, would you recommend I have serviced?
“I’ll probably go to a Jiffy Lube or something similar for other service and repairs.”
I was right with you until that sentence. If you want to keep your Altima on the road…find a good independent mechanic to service your vehicle…even the oil changes. Never darken the door of any chain shop.
“I find it hard to believe that your owner’s manual says nothing about maintenance work other than replacing the spark plugs”
Well, I guess that it is possible for the manual to mention nothing other than spark plugs and various inspections at 150k, but I think that the REAL question is whether the OP had all of the specified maintenance done at the preceding major intervals, namely 60k, 90k, & 120k.
@JDFW–What maintenance was performed at 60k, 90k, and 120k?
And, as was previously mentioned, if you value your car and your wallet, you should be going to an independent mechanic, rather than a chain operation–like Jerky Lube–that employs barely-trained kids.
Well the manual only goes to up to 60,000 miles, so I was using that. It said more, but all that was covered in the stuff I already had fixed that I listed above.
I bought the car at about 75k miles, and no, I’ve been really bad about maintenance. (This is why I love this car!) I get oil changes at about 5k miles. Don’t freak out, but really, I’ve only fixed stuff when it’s broken. It sounds bad now that I type it out, I realize. Now I’m able to be more responsible, so I will be, if I can figure out what needs to be done.
How do you find an independent mechanic? I can’t tell if the ones around me are independent or chains. I know the obvious chains and can exclude them from a google search, but is there a website they all flock to? I had one in the city I used to live in, and I really liked that guy. I trusted him, but he doesn’t have a shop down here or know anyone. I live in zip 76011 if that helps.
Also, does it need a new timing belt? A friend of mine suggested that.
Oh ok it says “After 60,000 miles /48 months continue periodic maintenance at the same mileage/time intervals.” So now we add Engine coolant and Engine oil, air cleaner filter, but still everything else is just an I for Inspect.
It seems you must be using another shop besides the dealership, since you’ve had a bunch of stuff replaced, not just oil changes which you prefer to do at the dealership. So why not ask the other shop to advise you what needs to be done to keep the routine maintenance up to date?
I have a Corolla of similar vintage. I can tell you what I do for routine maintenance.
Oil and filter every 5K. I use the same brand and spec of oil for every oil change and think this is important. (Not everyone here agrees on that point!! … lol) At the same time I clean the hvac vents under the windshield of leaves and debris with a shop vac, lube the door and hood and trunk hinges, and do a visual inspection under the car for unexplained leaks and things that are coming loose and that the CV joint boots remain in good shape and no unusual play in the drive shafts. And that the tire tread is ok. And that all the fluids possible to check under the hood, transmission, brake, clutch, power steering, etc are within their fill limits. I also check that the water pump isn’t leaking at its weep hole.
Replace the spark plugs every 25-30K. Also check the spark plug wires are not cracking. I usually check the distributor’s innards then too for anything unusual. And replace the engine air filter.
Coolant and thermostat replacement every 3 years. And usually the manual transmission’s gear oil at the same time. And remove the front wheels and check that the brakes are ok.
Besides that, mostly what I do is symptom related. If there are no symptoms, or I don’t need to do something to pass emissions testing, I don’t do anything besides the above.
At the same time I clean the hvac vents under the windshield of leaves and debris with a shop vac, lube the door and hood and trunk hinges, and do a visual inspection under the car for unexplained leaks and things that are coming loose and that the CV joint boots remain in good shape and no unusual play in the drive shafts. And that the tire tread is ok.
Um. What are CV joint boots. “No unusual play”, does that mean it doesn’t pull one way or the other or do anything weird like that? Because it seems fine in that regard.
I don’t normally drive an automatic, but for automatics, the experts here seem to recommend a proper transmission service (not a flush) every 30 to 50 K. You engine may not have a distributor, with a 1999, it is probably configured with coil packs. With coil packs there isn’t much to check unless there is a symptom. But checking the high voltage wires for cracking is a good idea.
No idea if your brakes need checking or not. Brake wear depends a lot on driving style. Since brakes are an important safety function, might be a good idea to have a shop at least do a visual check of the front brake’s condition.
Edit: Don’t recall if this was already mentioned, but if your engine uses a timing belt, changing that at the right time is important. I think most cars used timing chains by 1999, but worth checking to make sure.
No inspection report with this estimate? I would expect that the brakes were checked and should be noted somewhere.
What repairs were included in the estimate? Just following the maintenance schedule won’t remedy failing parts.
If the maintenance schedule is to start over after 60,000 miles/48 months it seems that the coolant is to be changed at least every 4 years, where does replacing the coolant appear in the maintenance schedule?
oil and filter change
coolant drain and refill . . . you said the radiator was replaced, but it was a few years ago
spark plugs if you don’t know when they were done last time
fuel filter if you don’t know when it was replaced last time
air filter if you don’t know when it was replaced last time
automatic transmission fluid and filter, since it was never done
Heads up . . . the transmission may very well be on its last legs, since it’s been abused
But it may last a few more years . . . could go either way
By maintaining the transmission from now on, you are not making up for missed services. You are simply maintaining what you have
I’d be taking a very good look at any rubber components, since they might be showing significant wear by now
Bushings, hoses, belts, etc.
Same thing goes for steering and suspension components
You made it this far . . . if you maintain it very well from now on, you may get several more years of service out of this car
What are CV joint boots. "No unusual play", does that mean it doesn't pull one way or the other or do anything weird like that? ... coil packs, what?
CV boots are protective rubber covers for the CV joints. There’s 4 of them on front wheel drive cars (which I presume yours is) , 2 on each front drive axel. Those boots split eventually, and once they split dirt gets in and ruins the CV joints. It’s a lot cheaper to replace the boot than the entire CV joint. If a CV joint does get contaminated with dirt the metal parts inside will wear and sometimes a noticeable play in the driveshaft will be noted.
It’s a good idea to get it periodically inspected, as it is a safety issue. Any experienced mechanic knows how to check for play in the drive axels and suspension components. It’s a routine thing mechanics do. The inspection isn’t overly expensive. But fixing a problem found during the inspection can be.
Coil packs … for the most part all cars used to all have distributors up until around the 1990’s. Distributors allow a single ignition coil to be multiplexed; i.e. the engine only requires one coil to fire all of the spark plugs. Saves the manufacturer on coil expense. Then engineers decided the distributor is a reliability weak link, and it is better just to make the car a little more expensive and provide more than one coil for the engine to use. Those kinds of coils are called “coil packs”, because there is more than one of them.