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Oil changes and special maintenance checks

I’m curious for your thoughts. Of course I know it’s important to get oil changes every 3,000 miles, for my old car. But how important is the 30,000 mile special maintenance check, or 50,000 thousand mile check, etc. You know how the service book states you need these special high mileage check ups…my car now has over 200,000 miles! Is the full service oil change good enough? Should you never go to the dealership for these special maintenance checks? The Toyota dealership wanted me to take it in to look at, just look at, to assess for 100 bucks! I’m used to driving with my “service engine” light on, it’s been that way for at least 50,000 miles. So any ideas out there? I really want my vehicle to last another 200,000 miles at least! Thanks for any help!

Toyota Highlander never recommended a 3k oil change…it’s been 5k…and now it’s 10k. 3k may be overkill, but at least it won’t hurt anything.

There is no need to take it to the dealer for anything but warranty work…either do it yourself, or have a good independent do the work.

Your vehicle will need maintenance beyond just oil changes. The service is spelled out very clearly in the owners manual. I suggest you read it.

As for the service engine light…again read the owners manual and learn how to turn it off. Mine comes on every 5k miles to tell me I need an oil change or tires rotated.


It’s usually 5 thousand for a new car. and 3,000 for an old one. I read the book, where do you think I’m getting this information? I can’t remember the exact mileage special maintenance check. But I get what you’re saying. And yes, I know how to turn off my check engine service light, too much of a hassle for me to do it every time. Thanks for the reply.

I’ve never ever heard of or read anywhere saying different oil change intervals depending on the age of or mileage of the car. Please show me the source.

I’ve owned 5 vehicles with well over 300k miles. The first two had 3k oil change recommendations. The last 3 all had the 5k oil change interval requirement. I used that for all the time I owned them. My 98 pathfinder had close to 500k miles when we finally got rid of it. There is no need to do oil changes sooner because it has higher mileage.

A dealer inspection for 100 bucks on a 200,000 mile car? That’s pretty cheap money for an inspection. I might have the dealer do that and accept their recommendations for repairs and take it to your regular independent mechanic. Or take it to the regular independent in the first place.

Those 30K, 50K and more recommended checks are designed to catch problems early that can cause more expensive repairs. At 200K, this old girl deserves a bit of extra attention so she can go for another 100 to 200K. And no, the oil change is little more than a quick look-see under the vehicle. Much like your doctor, if you want a mechanic to spend time giving everything a good look, he needs to be paid for his time.

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This may come under the wishful thinking category. And if you do you may have to spend buckets of money.

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Are you SURE that your vehicle only needs to have various items “checked” every 30k miles?
With most makes of vehicles, there is a fairly significant list of maintenance procedures that are supposed to be done at 30k, 60k, 90k, 120k, 150k, 180k, 210k, etc.

Just because the odometer has ticked-over to 200k miles, that does not mean that maintenance is no longer necessary, and that it is only necessary to “check” things. If you skip the maintenance procedures that are specified for every 30k miles, you will never reach your desired 400k mile total, or even anything close to that number.

I’ve done it a couple of times. It’s not that wishful thinking and I never spent a lot of money to get there. Normal maintenance and repairs under $2000.


Like VDCdriver, I’m wondering exactly what you mean by “check”. Although some items in your maintenance schedule are truly just checks, many of them are things like the replacement of fluids or other parts. I hope you’re not skipping those, as that’s a good way to save a small amount of money now but spend a large amount of money in the future.

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You reached those mileage numbers without going to a forum asking questions and driving around for 50000 miles with the check engine light on like the OP .

The other maintenance items are more than just checks. Your owners manual has a list of all the recommended maintenance items. Typically they include:

Cabin air filter every 15k

Engine air filter every 30k

Spark plugs every 30k (iron/copper), 100k (platinum) or 120k (iridium)

Coolant change every 5 years or 100k whichever comes first.

Timing belt (if equipped) every 7 years or 105k miles.

You should be able to do the filters yourself.


At a minimum you should take care of the various fluids in your car. Not only the oil, also coolant, transmission fluids, differential and so on. These fluids keep your car alive and I wager to say that most premature death occur because of a lack of fluid changes. Changing filters, spark plugs and wires can only improve mileage and engine performance.

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Those recommended checks are designed to generate revenue for the dealers. The lists they usually come up with contain numerous ridiculous recommendations and many very expensive repairs that aren’t actually needed.


No need to use a dealership for routine maintenance, especially for an out of warranty older car with 200K miles like yours. The dealership usually does a good job but they tend to error on the side of extreme caution; i.e. they’d prefer you to leave the shop with a vehicle in like-new condition. Of course you’d probably like that too, until you see the dealer shop’s invoice to do it all.

I think an independent shop is the preferred choice for this kind of work. Better inde shops usually offer some kind of overall-checkup service, sometimes called a “general inspection” or “yearly checkup”. Suggest to find a shop that specializes in Asian cars & offers that service. If possible provide them copies of the paperwork showing any services or repairs you’ve had done in the past 3 years or so. They’ll go over your vehicle top to bottom comparing the service records to what Toyota suggests, and looking for potential problems needing attention. They’ll let you know which ones need to be done immediately, which ones can be deferred.

fyi I own a 25 year old Corolla w/200 K miles, and when it hit 200K I didn’t do anything. Everything needing doing had already been done. The most important general service probably at that number of miles is probably to keep all the fluids fresh and at the proper level, and all the things that need lubricating, lubricated. Don’t forget things like door hinges, hood and trunk hinges. And that all the lights work.

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Well, Yes, there IS the dealer sales pitch…The uglier side to the recommended checks.

Neglect of spark plugs and other ignition parts can damage the catalytic converter.

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@cdaquila @lackeyjr I do believe the johnny post above is Spam.

I don’t see Spam here. I associate spam with commercial advertising and there is none. Just because a message does not seem to make sense to some is hardly a reason to wanting to remove it.

Kurt, the name is a link.

Actually Toyota’s typically last over 400,000! I love my cars!