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How often do you need an oil change? AAA’s vehicle maintenance myth busters

As many Virginians prepare to take their long awaited Great American Road Trip this summer, AAA wants to offer some peace of mind before pulling out of the driveway by debunking some common auto maintenance myths.

AAA Vehicle Maintenance Myth Busters

#1 – Oil should be changed every 3,000 miles Cars that are 15 years or newer typically need oil changes at intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 miles. Opting for synthetic oil can extend this even longer.
#2 – Car batteries last for 5 years The life of a car battery varies & depends on the type of vehicle, driver habits and climate. A car battery can last anywhere from 3 – 5 years.
#3 – Car warranties are voided when work is done by anyone other than the dealer The law prohibits manufacturers or dealers to void a warranty or deny coverage just because someone else did the work.
#4 – Brake fluid doesn’t need to be changed Brake fluid should be changed at two- or three-year intervals, especially since it attracts & absorbs water, which can corrode internal brake system parts & lead to failure or other costly damage.
#5 – Tires should be replaced when the tread reaches 2/32” AAA research found tire performance in wet weather deteriorates significantly at 4/32” & therefore, recommends consumers buy new tires when they reach this tread depth.


“Over the course of the summer, AAA anticipates responding to nearly 157,000 calls for roadside assistance in Virginia,” said Martha Meade, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “And while AAA will be at the ready to serve members, no one wants their road trip ruined by a breakdown that could have been avoided.”

In an effort to ensure cars are road-ready, travelers are advised to have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, including AAA Car Care Centers, before any long road trip. AAA recommends focusing on key components like your battery, tires, engine and fluids.

“Dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble this summer,” said Brent Stegner, Car Care Manager at AAA Swift Creek. “Also, check that engine oil, coolant and brake, transmission and power steering fluids are at the manufacturer specified levels.”

AAA recommends

  • Following manufacturer’s schedule: Your owner’s manual and often offers variations based on driving habits. Make sure to stick to the one that most closely matches your individual situation.
  • Listening to the experts: While you may be tempted to prolong maintenance to save money, by doing so you could end up with more costly repairs down the road.
  • Having your battery tested: Car batteries are a little trickier as they will give little warning when they are about to die. A simple battery test will provide all the information you need to decide if it’s time to replace. Through its mobile battery program, AAA offers its members free testing of a vehicle’s battery and electrical system. The best part is that if you need your battery replaced, AAA can do so right on the spot.
  • Documenting work: Consumers can have the recommended maintenance services or repairs performed at any facility of their choice. Simply document the work that is done by someone other than the manufacturer or dealer to maintain the warranty.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press