Auto repair – 30k tune-up

Since I last wrote about my car in late 2003, I’ve put another 14,000 miles on it. This means a couple of things. First, I’m (over)due for my 30,000 mile tune-up.

Flux capacitor

The 30k tune-up is a harmonic convergence of maintenance tasks:

  • Oil change — Officially, Subaru recommends one at 3k, one at 7.5k, then one every 7.5k afterwards, though they wuss out and defer to the dealer who ostensibly knows about “local conditions” that just happen to follow the severe driving conditions accelerated schedule Jiffy Lube also recommends.
  • Air filter — it surprised me this is recommended only every 30,000 miles. I would have guessed 15k.
  • Fuel filter — conflicting advice on replacing or ignoring. It’s easy enough to do and the filter’s $18.
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Replace engine coolant — and keep it away from animals.
  • Replace brake fluid
  • Inspect stuff — drive belts, camshaft drive belt, hoses and connections, differential fluid, brakes, clutch, steering and flux capacitor.
Dilithium Crystal

Since I’ve already blown it off past the “due date,” there’s no harm in taking my time to get estimates. Unfortunately, those ranged from $562.50 at a local shop to $680 from the Subaru dealer. That’s a new dryer. I looked at the list of scheduled stuff a lot closer. None of this stuff ranks high on the DIY death matrix. (Unlike a clutch, which also involves a high degree of profanity generation.)

I ordered the non-liquid parts online for $58.88. This included the oil filter, air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs and wiper blades. (Can someone explain why the driver, passenger and rear wipers are all different sizes? Anyone?)

Five quarts of oil, a gallon of antifreeze and more brake fluid than I could possibly eat myself came to $26.62 at a local auto parts store. My car uses 4.2 quarts of oil, but the leftover will be used when I change the oil in my lawn mower. The antifreeze is diluted 50% or more depending on how deep into the arctic tundra I plan to drive this winter. I couldn’t find any quantity of brake fluid listed, though there are two reservoirs.

The wipers and air filter took fifteen minutes to do because my kids kept asking a lot of questions about the car’s “other trunk.” I’ll do the rest this weekend, but expect it’ll take a couple of hours because find the hardest way to remove the spark plugs. Or something. I think my time’s worth $200 an hour.

The second thing is how little mileage I’ve driven since December 2003. Ah, the joys of a moderate commute! Since May, I’ve biked more miles than I’ve driven. If I could only forgo potato chips, ice cream, chocolate, [… skip a bit Brother …], and bike through the winter, I’d be svelte.

18 thoughts on “Auto repair – 30k tune-up”

  1. I think my car has gone maybe 550 miles this year and I’ve ridden over 2000 miles on my bikes (if I combine mileage from all of them together). This reminds me though I’m well overdue to get my car serviced so that it will actually start and move the next time I decide to go “4 wheels” rather than “2”.

  2. Great job on hitting your 2,000 mile goal.

    Seeing gas at $2.79/gallon is further incentive to keep on biking (and I’m so glad I didn’t opt for the Subaru Turbo running on premium), though I have doubts about the feasibility of continuing this in November-February, when the days are short, cold, and wet.

    I’m looking for a second, beater bike to use as a primary commuter.

  3. I’ve put 330 miles on my scooter since June 30, with five fill-ups (including the original no-miles fill at the dealer) and about 75 mpg.

  4. P.S. I’ve biked all winter long before, so I know you can too! You’re a more hardcore biker than me. Definitely get a sturdy bike with a good posture for sightlines to both front and sides. Straight-barred mtn bikes are good for that.

  5. After deciding that I was too much of a pansy to ride my bike back and forth to work in 90+ degree weather, I’ve relegated my bike riding to early mornings on days off, and I’ve been taking my scooter to work.

    Humorously, it takes almost as long to scoot as it does to ride my bike. On the positive side, tho, I filled ‘er up last weekend, and it cost me $2.49. At 70 – 90 miles per gallon (depending upon riding style and how many doughnuts I’ve eaten), I usually only put gas in her every two weeks.

  6. If I put 1,500 miles on my car in a year it’s unusual, yet, I just spent $2,300 on a new brake system (what does a brake master cylinder *do* anyway?) I console myself with the fact that in five years they will have gotten the bugs out of hybrids so when I finally break down and buy a new car it won’t be so bad for the environment.

  7. In ye goode olde days, the two front wipers were the same size, resulting in the passenger-side wiper intruding into the driver’s field of vision. These days many car manufacturers put a larger wiper on the driver’s side (so there’s a single distraction for the driver instead of two, and it clears a much larger area of the windscreen for the driver to look through), and the smaller wiper on the passenger-side is mainly to keep the front-seat passenger happy.

    The rear wiper has always been a different size, because the window is a different size.

    If you’re lucky, you can buy two after-market wipers to suit the driver’s side wiper, and cut the second wiper in such a way that you can replace both the smaller front wiper and the back wiper with the pieces.

    Woodstock, a brake master cylinder is the main reservoir for the brake fluid, and is the component that transfers the mechanical force you apply on the brake pedal into the hydraulic pressure exerted on the brake shoes to make your vehicle stop. You want it to be working 🙂

  8. Good lord people! You only put 550-1500 miles on your car so far this year? How is that possible?! I am running close to 12,000 on my Solara. Its much more comfortable than a bike although I must admit I have also spent that much more on gasoline. ::shrug::

  9. don’t dilute your antifreeze much past 50%; you need about that much for the corrosion protection, and most people add water if the coolant gets low, so it’ll get slightly diluted over time.

    the 3000 mile oil change didn’t exist until quick-lube shops became common. I don’t even change the bikes’ oil that often.

    -ted

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