Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Preventive care

My 2003 Nissan Frontier XE has had frequent preventive service over its 70K miles (oil changes every 3K miles plus major 30/60 services as well). Recently I replaced the tires and battery: the tires due to wear, the battery due to age. I also had front brake pads installed, also based on wear. My question is about preventive treatment. The tech at Sears where the battery was installed and the fornt brakes were done recommended new shocks based on mileage. Though I have no symptoms of shock failure, is this the sort of thing one should replace based on mileage? How about a muffler or radiator? I replaced the battery because it was 5-1/2 years old and didn’t want to be in need of emergency help. When, and with what, should one wait till failure and when should one take action before then? Thanks much.

Shocks vary in wear dependent on roads traveled and quality of what is/was installed. No specific time on that.

Battery 5.5 years is prudent move. Radiator, muffler are replaced when they either malfunction or are observed to be failing never time.

The key to inexpensive car ownership with minimal breakdown is good independent mechanic who knows you will come back and is honest too. They exist. Chains and dealerships typically are mostly interested in sales and incentives are setup that way working against you.

Dear Andrew: Thanks for your prompt reply–it is helpful.

Agree with andrew, but you should get your coolant replaced at least every 5 years. I would not recommend any type of radiator flush at this age, unneeded and I believe flushing is harmful. A simple drain and refill and you will have no radiator problems.

The only thing that should be flushed is the brakes and that should have been part of the brake job.

If you have an automatic transmission, you should have the fluid changed every 30k miles if it wasn’t part of the 30/60 k maintenances you had done. Don’t allow the transmission to be flushed either. A drain and refill is all thats needed, maybe a new filter in some cases. And make sure only the correct fluid is used.

The only other thing I can think of is the belts, alternator and ac belts that is. If they look cracked or worn, you might want to change them if you are into emergency avoidance.

Do all the maintenance that is listed in the owner’s manual. Anything beyond that suggested by the mechanic should be considered suspect. Shocks can show leaks or they can be checked to see if they are failing, but I don’t recommend replacement based only on mileage.

I also would not replace a muffler or radiator base on age or miles. Their life varies. On the other hand a 5? year old battery is not going to last much longer and I suggest (and do so myself) replace it about then.

Shocks can be worn out with no sign of failure. Everyone’s threshold for degraded ride is different. The same thing can be said of tires by way of comparison. Do you let yours go the the wear bars before you replace them? They won’t resist hydroplaning as well as when they were new. The same thing goes for shocks. You may have a less controlled ride but they are not broken.