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Routine maintenance for the proverbial L-O-L who only drives it on Sundays!

Dear Gentlefolk,
I am trying to convince my 87 year-old mother to take her 1989 Toyota Camry (with 72K miles on it-no kidding!) in for the 5000 mile basic maintenance twice a year. She has no concept of preventive maintenance and since she drives it about 3-4K a year (MAX!) she doesn’t see the need. Your suggestions or comments on the proper interval would be most helpful.

No concept of preventive maintainence ?

Mention to her the items she has and DOES preventive maintainence on. She may come from a time that many more items needed regular tlc than some of the same produced today.

( thinking in terms of my mom )

  • Singer sewing machine…fresh sharp needles, drive belt, and regular oilings, clean dust from motor air vent.
  • kitchen utensils and appliances …regular cleanings, including refrigerator air intake and condeser coils.
  • washer and drier…Drier lint screen every time, washer lint trap as needed, washer water inlet filter, drive belts.

She’ll soon relate the two when you draw the equivilant to items for which she knows the value of proper care.

Like TEETH for example !

My 79 Chevy pickup has a whopping 71k miles on it. its maitainence is once a year.

I worry about over maintainence for this vehicle. Consider a compromise and do the once a year thing. That should keep things “good” enough.

That type of driving is about the worst thing that could be done to a car and my preference would be at least an oil change twice a year. Other incidentals are things like the random brake fluid change, timing belt, and so on.

You might let her know that her type of driving is what leads to engine oil sludge problems if oil changes are delayed; assuming a sludging problem does not already exist.

However, if she’s set in her way and won’t listen to you then odds are she won’t listen to any of us.
Mr. Green does make an excellent point about preventive maintenance on many other things and one could also say that watching the diet, regular medical checkups, pharmaceuticals, and so on are preventive maintenance for the human body.

James this is what we did with my Grandma’s car. We would take her shopping. One of my kids took her into the store. I would then take the car and do the service. No fuss. She never new we took care of it for her. Maybe you could borrow the car and take it in for her.

I’m thinking if what the 87 year old lady has been doing has worked so far, why change? I mean she’s 87 right? And any change to her routine may well upset her. If the car is running fine, leave it be. The benefits simply don’t outweigh the risks.

If and when the car breaks down, then I’m sure she’ll see the need for taking the car to the shop.

And first things first. This lady’s safety and the safety of others is paramount. The more important question is whether someone this old should be driving at all. It varies from person to person. But the lady and the family probably have biases that make it difficult to make the proper judgement. I realize it is difficult for the family to deal with, but the family should probably get an independent assessment from a physician on this. The inevitable cannot be delayed indefinitely.

My late mother-in-law had the same driving pattern. We convinced her to take it in spring and fall for an oil change, and have the shop check it out. She lives in a cold climate and having the car always start was very important to her. We also took it for a fast drive every time we visited to blow out the cobwebs.

She passed away last year and the 1994 car still only had 38,000 miles on it. We sold it to a young lady for $800 who is happily driving it today.

@ok4450 is right; this is the worst kind of driving you can expose a car to.

I disagree that this is the worse type of driving for the vehicle. 3-4k miles per year would be really bad if the vehicle were driven on several very short trips everyday or spent a lot of time idling as a delivery vehicle often does. If it is driven only 2-3 times a week on average, then an annual maintenance, scheduled just before winter would be adequate.

I will add that the annual maintenance should be on the whole car, not just an oil change. I believe the recommendation for the timing belt in this car is something like every 4 years. Other belts should be looked at, transmission fluid and coolant should be checked/changed as needed. Tires should also be replaced at some time interval as well, you don’t want her to have a blowout due to aged rubber.

Each annual maintenance should be a bumper to bumper inspection by a trusted, qualified mechanic who isn’t buying a new boat.

@keith ; my mother-in-law lived in a city of 90,000 and for the last 5 years the car did not leave the city, other than the occasional fast trip we put it to. She only drove to church, the grocery store, the hospital where she was a volunteer, and to friends in town. The car sat outside, no engine heater. Twice a year the shop (very trusted mechanic) checked it out and the timing belt was replaced, as was the transmission fluid, and the coolant at 5 years.

Oil companies simulate this driving in what the called the “Aunt Minnie Test” to show how much raw gasoline, condensation and sludge built up because of all these short trips.

If you divide 38,000 miles over 18 years with 300 round trips per year, you get 38000/18x30=7.03 miles per trip, and 3.5 miles for each half trip. Any oil company specialist or automotive engineer will tell you that this is SEVERE driving as far as the oil is concerned.