30,000 Mile Servicing; What Should I Expect?

van

#1

I have a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan which I bought new in May of that year. Since I’m physically handicapped the vehicle was modified by the seller with things like a lowered floor, automatic ramp, hand controls, powered steering on top of powered steering, etc… Since there were a limited number of companies at that time who did that sort of work I ended up buying it from a dealer located about 2 1/2 hours from my home.



For the last seven years, however, I’ve been having it regularly serviced at my local Dodge dealer. They have been very good about keeping it in top shape. Even willing to research and effectively deal with its special challenges (like broken or malfunctioning power steering belts, an impossible to find electrical leak which causes me to run through a new battery every 1 1/2 to two years, and dragging front brakes which led to sparking and a fire – requiring said breaks and other impacted elements to need to be totally replaced).



Over time, though, I really haven’t driven it as much as most folks seem to drive their cars. I only very recently went over the 30,000 mile mark on the odometer. So my dealer has urged me to bring it in for its 30,000 mile servicing. And I have made an appointment to do that next week. But the dealer informs me it will cost me about $700. I can’t seem to find any place on the Internet which explains to me what should be contained in that servicing.



What should I be looking for and expect? I feel I have a very positive relationship with all of the folks in the dealer’s service department, so I’ll probably go ahead and get the work done.


#2

The definitive answer to your question should be sitting in your glove compartment. The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule is contained either in the Owner’s Manual or in a separate booklet, but it definitely came with the van and since you are the original owner, it should still be there for your reference.

Just remember that certain maintenance procedures need to be done on an elapsed time basis, rather than just on the basis of mileage. For instance, if your engine has a timing belt (and I think that it does), that belt usually calls for replacement after about 7-8 years, regardless of how few miles are on the odometer. Failure to replace a timing belt can lead to MAJOR engine damage.

Another item to have replaced is your antifreeze/coolant. Even if the maintenance schedule calls for it to be replaced at, let’s say–60,000 miles–the rust inhibitors in the coolant wore out about 5 years ago. So, don’t be surprised if they want to change the coolant also.

Even something like your brake fluid is due for changing, as this fluid is hygrophilic (or is it hygroscopic?)–meaning that it attracts and absorbs moisture from the air. That moisture dilutes the brake fluid and can cause it to boil under heavy braking. Boiling fluid=no brakes, so even if the dealership doesn’t recommend changing the brake fluid, I suggest that you have it done.

So–I strongly suggest that you read the maintenance schedule and note the elapsed time intervals as well as the mileage intervals for servicing various components. The net result is that you will need to have more procedures done than are normally done at a 30,000 mile service, so the cost will be high. However, maintenance is cheaper than repairs and is preferable to unscheduled breakdowns in inconvenient locations.


#3

I would think that this van is saddled down with a lot of extra weight, so I would make a transmission service the #1 priority.
So I guess they got all the bugs worked? Was it the hand controls causing the brakes to drag? Just curious.


#4

VDCdriver gives excellent advice, as usual. I can’t think of anything to add. The owners manual and accompanying maintenance schedule is a wealth of information. If you haven’t read it, this is a great time to do so.

If you don’t have an owner’s manual, you might be able to get one at a good price from Books4Cars.com