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Routine Maintenance schedule for a rarely driven car

Dear Repair and Maintenance discussion community,

My wife has a 2002 Saturn L200 sedan which only has about 61,000 miles on it. We rarely drive her car these days since we got a hybrid with much better mileage, and as a result I wanted to know how often do we still need to do routine maintenance?

Before our 2nd car, we were doing oil changes and check ups at 3,000 miles or 3 months. But now that we only drive the Saturn once every week or two, I wanted to ask how often we need to perform the regular routine maintenance to keep the car in good shape? Do we still go by the mileage? Or do we perform it on a regular timetable?

Contact me any time and thanks for reading my message.


Christopher Thomas

Broker Associate, Keller Williams Realty Chicago Consulting Group

716 E. 47th St. Chicago, IL 60653

(773) 418-0640 (cell) (312) 577-0985 (fax) or

I’d change the oil once/year.

p.s. - it’s not a good idea to put your email addresses and all that other info in your question.

Date or mileage, whichever happens first.

I would go with either six month or one year oil changes.

I have one older truck where that seems to work out well. I then look at about three year intervals on the other fluid changes. Check the Saturn’s owner’s manual and see if they also provide a time component to the maintenance schedule. If so, then follow it.

You were over doing oil changes every 3K miles or 3 months. I believe the owner’s manual would say something like every 6K or 7K miles or every 6 months. If you want to stick to the manual change it every 6 months and don’t use fancy synthetic oils, conventional oil is fine.

If it were my low mileage older out of warranty car I’d probably change it once a year or every 5K miles whichever comes first.

Thanks a million for the really quick reply and all of your advice.

Since I’m a real estate agent most of my contact information including the email addresses is already out there in the public sphere already. Were I not a real estate agent, I would be more protective of the contact info. But that was also great and appreciated advice.

Thanks again.


I’m guessing that the owner’s manual’s schedule lines up with warranty coverage. Since we’re already outside of that, then I’ll probably go with something closer to your suggestions.

Dear Uncle Turbo,

Thanks for the advice. I know that our Hybrid only calls for every 6 months or 5K miles oil changes, but I think that our Saturn still had the old guidelines. But since we drive it so infrequently and it’s out of warranty, I’m likely to go with the 6 months to 1 year suggestions I’m seeing here. Thanks again.

In regards to oil changes I would simply have it done every 6 months.

If you drive that little (about 3000-4000 miles), I would change oil and filter once a year.

The owner’s manual does not really address these very low use situations.

Having said that, if the car has a timing BELT, it should be changed based on the time interval, such as 7 years. Rubber deteriorates with time as well as mileage. Transmission fluid and filter should be changed out every 30,000 m iles. If that has not been done already, you are overdue. This item needs you to disregard the GM advice to never change it.

My 92 year old mother in-law just gave up driving and sold her 1994 Sunbird with just over 40,000 miles on it. She changed oil spring and fall and had the mechanic check out everything just to make sure. At 1500 miles a year she was overdoing it, but for a few dollars she got the whole car checked over.

Why not just follow the instructions in the owner’s manual, which are based on both mileage and time for exactly this reason?

The owner’s manual should have a maintenance schedule. It should list some things by miles, some by time and most by time or miles whichever comes first. Read it carefully.

The one thing I would do different is the transmission fluid. There I would go with 30-45,000 miles. or five years whichever comes first.

Get a small automatic battery charger and charge the battery for a few hours every couple of months.