The worst thing about cars is that they break down.
Whether it’s a fender bender on the way to work, a falling tree during a windstorm, or just the wear and tear of years on the road, you and your car will end up in the shop at some point. Knowing how to maintain your car, when to head to a mechanic, and what to expect when you get there are essential skills for any car owner.
Insurance may cover some repair and maintenance costs, particularly if your car is damaged by
an act of Godor if you’re in
a no-fault accident, but others get folded into the total cost of car ownership. The average cost of car maintenance for new vehicles is about $100 a month—but that cost varies based on a number of factors, including:
- Your car’s make and model: Broadly speaking, more expensive cars carry higher maintenance costs, but the precisemodel, vehicle type, and age of your car all impact the cost to maintain it. No matter what car you drive,Jerrycan help you reduce your ownership costs by finding youcheap car insurance.
- Insurance coverage: In general, your car insuranceonly recovers repairs required by accidentsor other unexpected damage—not expected wear and tear. But some companies allow a policy rider known as mechanical breakdown insurance, which can cover some regular maintenance costs.
- Where you live: Maintenance costs vary from state to state along with other cost-of-living metrics. So doesthe cost of car insurance.
Car maintenance and insurance: what you need to know
Your car insurance policy may cover certain types of repairs depending on the type of coverage you carry.
- If you’ve only gotliability coverage, your policy covers repairs for other drivers if you’re at fault in an accident, but it won’t pay for damage to your car
- Comprehensive coveragepays for damage caused by non-collision incidents such as severe weather, theft, vandalism, and acts of God
- If you carrycollision coverage, insurance will help to pay for damage caused by a collision with another car or a stationary object
- Mechanical breakdown insurancecovers the cost of some regular maintenance required by normal wear and tear
- Towing and labor coveragewon’t pay for maintenance, but it can get you a jumpstart or emergency oil or fuel delivery if you run into mechanical trouble on the road
Outside of these coverages, you can expect to be on the hook for the cost of maintaining your vehicle. In particular, repairs required by expected wear and tear or by an accident where you were at fault won’t typically be eligible for insurance coverage—so be prepared to shell out the money.
In general, paying for the maintenance you need is a good idea, since it keeps you and other drivers safe and in compliance with the law. Failing to keep up with your car’s required maintenance could cause you to fail
your mandated inspection, or even cause a serious accident.
However, no car lives forever. If the cost to repair or maintain your car is greater than
the car’s total value, it may be better to say goodbye to your old ride.
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The bottom line
What are the most important car maintenance services?
Among the most essential routine car maintenance tasks are oil changes, tire rotations, brake inspections, and battery checks.
How often do you need an oil change?
The old advice was to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles or 3 months, but these days it’s only necessary every 5,000 to 7,000 miles for most cars. Check your owner’s manual for the exact interval recommended by the manufacturer.
How do I know if my car needs maintenance?
Your car has a lot of ways of telling you it needs help. The check engine light and other dashboard service indicators are one way to know when it’s time for a visit to the mechanic, but you should also get any unusual vibrations, noises, or smells checked out. Smoke, mysterious fluid underneath your car, and other visible changes are also good indicators that maintenance is required.
What happens if my car is not serviced?
Skipping routine maintenance can have a few effects. In the short term, it may not do anything—particularly for non-urgent problems. In the long run, however, foregoing necessary services can lead to severe damage to your car’s components, up to and including total engine failure.
Car maintenance 101 with Jerry
Every car comes with its own manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule, but the basics are the same for most vehicles.
To help you save money on repairs and maintenance,
Jerry’screated a master schedule for basic car maintenance. We’ll break down the tasks you should be doing once or month (or every time you fill up the tank), along with bigger checks and services to schedule at or before the 30,000, 60,000, and 90,000 mile marks.
You should be
getting under the hoodregularly to check certain crucial components. Perform these checks every two to four weeks and before any major road trips.
- Check engine oil and coolant levels
- Test your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and parking lights
- Check tire pressureand tread depth
If your car runs on synthetic oil, like most modern vehicles, you can likely go between 5,000 and 7,000 miles before an oil change. Tires should be rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Exactly when you’ll need those services depends on your vehicle, how you use it, and the environmental conditions in your area—so checking regularly can help you anticipate the best time to head to the shop!
Your car needs some services less frequently than a monthly basis, but more frequently than the 30-60-90 schedule most manufacturers recommend. Here’s what you should be doing for your car every three to six months to keep it in peak condition:
Experts also recommend
shopping for car insurance every six months—but most people think of their insurance policy as something that’s set in stone. That couldn’t be further from the truth: in fact, reshopping for insurance regularly can help you
save moneyand tailor your coverage to your car’s changing needs. Download the
Jerryapp for instant expert help and a 45-second rate comparison process.
Maintenance around 30,000 miles
Most cars require some standard maintenance around the 30,000 mile mark. Here’s what you should expect to do for your car at that milestone:
Some engine components, like
brake pads, coolant, and spark plugs, may need to be replaced at this stage.
If you’re feeling confident in your mechanical skills, you can do a lot of this maintenance on your own. But if you’re taking your car to a mechanic, use the time while you wait to shop for a new insurance policy with
Jerry. Start to finish, the comparison process takes under 45 seconds—and you could walk out of the garage with a new low rate on your insurance!
Maintenance around 60,000 miles
For most vehicles, this is the stage when major mechanical components
begin to wear out. Be prepared to put some money into your car around the 50,000 to 70,000 mile mark. You’ll probably need to:
- Replace the battery
- Swap out brake pads and rotors
- Replacetiresif necessary
- Flush transmission, radiator, differential, brake, and transfer case fluids
- Check the serpentine belt
- Check the shocks and struts
That’s why the car owner’s super app
Jerryexists—to save drivers money on car-related expenses at the moment they need it!
Download the app, enter your information, and you could have a new low rate on your insurance in minutes. On average, Jerry users save $887 on car insurance.
Maintenance around 90,000 miles
Proper maintenance can keep your car functioning effectively well past 90,000 miles, but it’s important to continue regular checks and services. Here’s what to schedule at or before the 90,000 mile mark:
- Check or replace engine hoses
- Check or replacepower steering fluid
- Replace spark plugs
If you financed your car with a 72-month loan, you’re due for an insurance refresh. Most lenders require drivers to carry full-coverage insurance to protect their investment, but once your loan term’s up you’re
free to change your coverageto meet your needs.
Jerrycan help with that—in just 45 seconds, we can show you coverage options and rate offers drawn from 50+ top providers.
Why you shouldn’t skip car maintenance
Car maintenance isn’t just the responsible thing to do—it could actually
extend your car’s life! And though it may seem like an extra expense, performing regular checks and services can save you money in the long run by avoiding the
accidents, and related
legal expensesthat can come from driving a car in poor condition.
Jerry’s committed to saving money for car owners—and doing it with as little hassle as possible. We won’t sell your information, we won’t ask you to fill out unnecessary paperwork, and we’ll never, ever call you (unless you ask us to!).
With help from
Jerry, you can give your car a long, safe life while protecting your bank account and saving money for the things you care most about.
Still have some questions?
Let Jerry help you find the answers