1998 Lexus ES 300 - time vs. mileage for service

Hi: My wife and I have a 1998 Lexus ES300 with 85,000 miles on it. We are now in our (very) late 80’s and drive less than when we were younger. We always had the vehicle serviced at 5,000 miles or 3 months, which ever occurred first. Now we travel about 1,000 miles per year in 3 to 4 mile trips. We’ve been getting the vehicle serviced every 6 months after about 500 miles. The vehicle has always performed great between servicing. It seems more reasonable to us to service it once a year at 1,000 miles. A question of time vs miles. The service manual was not written for older folks who have our kind of driving habits. Our driving is all city driving in Colorado, with all kinds of weather. Any suggestions will be appreciated, by us and other “older” drivers like us.

Because of the age of the vehicle and your driving style, I would agree with your thoughts of once a year. You know your habits and how you treat your vehicle. It would be fine to go with your instinct.

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Why do you say this? Doesn’t your manual list both a mileage interval and a time interval for most items?

I use synthetic oil and change once a year no matter how few miles I drive. Once a year with regular oil would probably also suffice.

I will go against the grain here. The type of short trip driving you do is the toughest possible for an engine and leads to the formation of sludge. I’d change the oil every 3 or 6 months.


Is that one way or both ways?


A year is too long to go for a car that needs to be reliable and safe. Have it serviced at least every 6 months. Someone needs to open the hood and look around, inspect the tires, check the fluid levels, test the battery etc.

A lot can happen in a year. Tires can lose air, a coolant hose can start leaking. A rodent can nest in the air filter. The power steering pump may start leaking. Unless you are doing this yourself every month or so take the car in and have it serviced. At your age you deserve the very best!


Driving it only 1000 mile per year, have you considered selling it and using Uber/Lyft/taxis? Of course that would be after Covid 19 situation is dealt with.

You are no longer worried about warranty, I would change it once a year and use synthetic, it is more resistant to sludge.

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