Need for recommended routine maintenance



I drive 100 miles per day. Because I wrack up the mileage so quickly, I stopped doing the dealer recommended standard maintenance for my last two cars (Ford Focus). I only did repairs when something broke. The last car required one repair, the current car has not required anything.

My question is this. I’m considering buying a hybrid car. Can I safely ignore the manufacturer’s recommend maintenance with these cars and get away without damaging anything?


NO. You can’t “safely” ignore the manufacturers recommended maintenance on ANY car. You must be very lucky. Most people wouldn’t get away with what you are doing. You don’t keep these cars very long, do you?


You can drive any car without maintaining it properly.

Now go play in the street.


Yes, you can ignore those recommendations–at the risk of your wallet.

Invariably, repairs will cost more, both in monetary terms and in terms of inconvenience, than scheduled maintenance will. As the old saying says–“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later”.

It’s your choice, but the intelligent course of action is to maintain a new car properly.


You ever though of reading the motherf-ing manual? All the NECESSARY maintenance items and time frames are in that book in the glove compartment. Seriously, do you think the manufacturers recommend you change your oil just for sh!ts and giggles?


And when the car finally needs a ton of work or leaves you stranded due to being neglected no doubt there will be much screaming about “The shop is trying to rip me off!” when presented with a large repair bill.


Actually, you’ve said two different things. First you said you stopped doing the “dealer recommended” maintenance, and then you asked if you should ignore the “manufacturers recommended” maintenance. Those are often not that same. Many dealers like to pad their service with “recommended” services that have nothing to do with what the manufacturer recommends. I don’t blame anyone for ignoring dealer recommended stuff if it does not coincide with the manufacturer’s recommendation. You will find some folks here believe the manufacturers recommendations are not sufficient, but that doesn’t mean you need every little item the dealer can dream up either.

The kind of mileage you are putting on your car, assuming it’s mostly highway miles, is probably not very hard on it. Get your owners manual, follow the “severe service” recommendations, and you’ll probably be doing fine. Most of the service recommendations these days is to change the oil and then mostly check this and that. Some things should be changed on a time basis, such as brake fluid and coolant. You should keep up with those.

Finally, if your are the sort who sells or trades your car in every 3 years, it won’t much matter. Just do the next owner a favor and change the oil on a regular basis.


GIven your driving habits of easy life and your likely shorter ownership period I would not worry much about the hybrid over the regular car.

If your only keeping the vehicles to 150k miles or less your maintenance habits given easy driving life(sounds like pure highway) I think you can get away with it. The next owner may be in for a rude awakening down the line.

My wife went your maintenance route on her 96 Civic over 8yrs/170k miles only performing major stuff at 100k(timing belt, belt change, fluids changed, wires/rotor/plugs etc). She did change motor oil regularly which IMHO is most important of anything you do. It was sold perfectly running but in need of all maintenance. She never broke down except for fallen apart exhaust.


Actually, McP brought up a good point. If you don’t keep the cars very long and you’re easy on them the risk is minimal, although I don’t condone ignoring the maintenance schdeule. Ignoring the required maintenance is always a gamble. It would seem that most of your mileage must be highway, which is easier on the car anyway.

A better way to keep maintenance costs down would be to learn to do the preventative maintenance yourself. Post back if you’re interested in this approach.


Please, lproter, I find that language offensive even in print. Try to be nice.


Absolutely correct. Do it yourself. Most maintenance items are easy to do with a few inexpensive tools, some work clothes and an area to work, even outdoors but off of the street, of course. If you rent and can’t work on cars in your parking lot, then do it at night which I have done some. Your most frequent maintenance items at your 100 miles per day will be oil and oil filter changes. Do that to begin and more later if you like. You can save a considerable amount of time and money. As an example, I can change my oil and filter in far less time that it takes to drive to an oil change place and back including waiting time there. Check your owner’s manual for maintenance items and frequency depending on your driving habits.


This is from hultsp (original poster). I should have stated that I do change the oil regularly and check fluid levels, etc.


You best pay close attention to automatic trans fluid change intervals or it could get very costly. Hybrid? Are you doing city or open road driving? You must understand that a hybrid won’t pay unless you use the brakes a lot.


As mentioned elsewhere, take the owners manual of your car, Xerox the maintenance pages and highlight the items needed at the various intervals. You do not need to go to your dealer to have this done. For instance dealer recommended maintenance is far in excess of what is legally required to maintain the warranty. I used to drive as much as you and I did the following:

  1. Change oil & filter every 8000 miles; most of your driving is easy on the engine.
  2. Change transmission fluid & filter every 50,000 miles
  3. Flush radiator and replace coolant every 50,000miles
  4. Check oil every second fill-up, and routinely check coolant level and tire pressure every week. These are done by you at zero cost.
  5. Rotate tires every 7000 miles to gain maximum life.
  6. Use platinum plugs and only tune the engine up when it runs rough, lacks power or uses too much gas. Your driving is extremely easy on the engine, so you can go a long time between tuneups.

All the added dealer-recommended things are things you can do yourself, so get away from the $100 oil change that Honda is famous for.

On a new car, the coolant is long life, and may go 80-100,000 miles

The owners manual will list those things you are legally responsible for to maitain the warranty. The dealer’s recommendations are “boat payment” items mostly. Any dealer who say you have to have your car serviced there is breaking the US consumer protection laws!! Please tell him so. Some items on a hybrid car only the dealer may be able to service, but you are not legally obliged to have him do it.

The items I mentioned at the beginning are to make your car last long; if you trade every 2 years, you may be interested only in changing oil and filter, and checking fluid levels regularly.

Your driving style actually can make a hybrid pay, as Consumer Reports found some time ago. Most drivers cannot make hybrid pay for itself.


“Your driving style actually can make a hybrid pay, as Consumer Reports found some time ago. Most drivers cannot make hybrid pay for itself.”

Actually, hybrids only have a major gas mileage advantage if someone’s driving is mostly urban driving. Once someone does a lot of highway driving (and I have to assume that driving ~100 miles per day means mostly highway driving) the advantage of a hybrid over a “conventionally” economical car is so small that it might take 10 years or more to amortize the extra initial cost of the hybrid. If a person who does mostly highway driving, he/she would be better-off cost-wise by buying something like a Civic or a Corolla.


I too have a 100 mile daily commute. In 02, I bought a new Saturn Silver Blue Special ($9995 including air). I get almost 38 mpg average, I kept a spreadsheet on this for the first 60k miles, 37.85 mpg. If I had bought a Prius at the time and got the rated 45 mpg, my $10,000 extra investment would have saved me about $1500 in gas. Currently have about 143k miles on it now. That would be close to $3200 at todays prices, but gas was only about a $1.50/gal back then. A 5 year old Prius would probably be due for new batteries and I think they would eat up most if not all of that gas savings.

Might pay off if I had a 30 mile commute in city traffic though.

Do not ignore the manufacturers recommendation, but you do not need to listen to the dealer, or use them for the maintenance the manufacturer recommends.


In that case, I would add the following at a minimum (subject to change if your owner’s manual differs):

-Drain and fill the coolant/antifreeze at least every two years. The rust inhibitors wear out. Flush and fill if it has been longer than three years.
-Drain and fill the transmission oil every 15,000 miles or flush and fill it every 30,000 miles. Draining and refilling is cheaper but you don’t get it all out. If you have a manual transmission, it is basically just like an oil change without the filter and you should spring for synthetic oil in the tranny.