Factory-recommended maintenance means taking a vehicle to certified mechanics for lubrication, inspection, and parts replacement based on the recommended intervals. These services are usually outlined in your owner’s manual, which may include the following:
- Oil change
- Filter changes (like oil, fuel, and air filters)
- Replace timing belts or timing chains
- Tire balancing and rotation
- Fluid flushes (like coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid)
- Cleaning the fuel injectors.
While such services are to be done as scheduled, there may be instances you will see signs telling you the vehicle is already due for maintenance. Here are eight examples.
1. Illuminated Check Engine Light
The check engine light tells you when something is wrong with the emissions system.
For instance, a bad plug could cause the unburned mixture to have too much fuel. The system will set off the check engine light with a trouble code.
Every vehicle has many sensors for detecting this. And whenever anything goes wrong with one or more sensors, the check engine light turns on.
2. The Brakes Feel “Off”
If the brake pedal feels mushy or goes more than halfway to the floor, that is a sign that something is wrong with the brakes. You might have low brake pads, low brake fluid levels, a collapsed hose, or a malfunctioning caliper.
3. Loss of Power
An engine could lose power for many reasons, like plugs, wires, coils, distributor, or an electronic control module (ECM) malfunction. You might even have a dirty or malfunctioning fuel injector.
4. Engine Misfires
An engine misfire could be caused by several things, including bad plugs, a problem with the distributor, bad coils, or a vehicle that doesn’t have coil-over plugs with the wires.
5. Oil Pressure Drops
When the oil pressure drops, you might have an oil leak, a bad oil sender, a malfunctioning oil pump, or you haven’t changed the oil in a long time. If this happens, shut off the vehicle immediately to avoid significant damage to the engine.
6. Tire Pressure Light
The tire pressure light usually signifies you are low on air in one or more tires. Or that you already have a flat tire. If the tire pressure read-out has dashes instead of a number, the sensor might have malfunctioned.
A transmission is supposed to smoothly shift unless you installed a shift kit. If it doesn’t, you might be low on transmission fluid or have dirty fluid and filter. You could also have a transmission leak. Another sign is if the transmission works in forward but does not work in reverse.
There could be more severe problems than being low on transmission fluid, such as a bad front pump, bad slave cylinder, bad clutches, or worn planetary gears.
8. Decreased Fuel Economy
If you notice decreased fuel economy, you could have several issues. This includes being overdue for a tune-up or a problem with one of the sensors.
In some cases, dirty oil could cause issues with the camshaft phaser actuator or the cam phasers, which could decrease fuel economy.