Vehicle Maintenance

Vehicle Maintenance Items

Routine maintenance inspections should be performed to catch and possibly avoid any catastrophic failures. Less common, but still very much an issue, is sudden catastrophic damage that may or may not be caught during a routine maintenance inspection.

There is a manufacturer chart for when maintenance and component checks should be done. The manufacturer table shows the mileage and how many labor hours needed to complete the maintenance. Hensley’s Auto can look up the information for you or you can check your owners manual.


Battery Replacement Time frame: approximately 5 years
How a battery works: There is a chemical reaction that happens in the battery when it is charged or discharged. The alternator on the car charges the battery and all the electrical components will discharge the battery. Over time, this chemical reaction degrades the battery causing it to not function properly.
How to test a battery: There are electrical tests that can determine the battery condition.
Common Symptoms of a bad or under charged battery
Slow cranking (car starts but takes longer than normal)
Dim lights
Additional items to check before replacing the battery:
The charging system needs to be checked because it will cause the battery to fail prematurely.
Batteries will break down at a faster rate if they are discharged below 70%.
The battery cables should be checked for corrosion because it will cause the battery and charging system to underperform.
The starter and battery cables should also be checked. Battery cables that are
warm to the touch are an indication of a problem.

Engine Belt Serpentine Belt

Engine Belt Replacement Time frame: 30,000 miles
How an engine belt works: On most vehicles, the engine belt runs the alternator, water pump, and power steering. It is turned by the crankshaft pulley on the engine.
How to check your engine belt:
engine belt

Visually and physically check the engine belt for cracks or stiffness in the belt tension.
Listen for screeching noises which means the belt is worn out or needs to be adjusted.
Physically check the engine belt for extra smooth spots or fraying.
Check the pulleys for a deposit of rubber and make sure the engine belt is aligned properly on the pulley.
Find the longest length of the engine belt and gently pull to check the tension. The engine belt should provide between .5 to 1 inch of release.

Timing Belt

Timing Belt Replacement Time frame: 60,000 – 90,000 miles
The timing belt is one of the most important vehicles maintenance item. The timing belt on the engine turns the engine camshaft causing the engine valves to open and close. If the belt breaks this will cause damage to the engine. This repair is costly because the cylinder head will have to be removed and taken to a machine shop for repair. Timing belts are more expensive to change than regular engine belts. The crankshaft pulley on the engine needs to be removed along with all the vehicle drive belts and timing cover in order to gain access to the belt. The water pump in most vehicles is driven off the timing belt so you may want to choose to change the water pump at that time while it’s easily accessible. Replacing the water pump at that time will save you money in the long run. The timing belt is not visible when looking at your engine; it is under the plastic timing cover. The timing belt runs the valves simultaneously with the pistons in order for the crankshaft and camshaft Click for more information about timing belt replacement Santa Rosa.

Coolant hoses

Coolant Hose Replacement Time frame: 60,000 miles
How coolant hoses work: Coolant hoses are used to keep the engine cool by

water from the engine to the radiator. If one of the coolant hoses break, the vehicle will overheat which will cause engine damage.
How to check coolant hoses: Visually inspect the hoses for bubbles and soft spots.


Coolant Replacement time frame.
Green Coolant (Ethylene) should be replaced every 50,000 miles.
Yellow or Red Coolant (Polypropylene) should be replaced every 70,000-100,000 miles.
How coolant works: Coolant has rust and corrosion inhibitors in it to keep your engine from being damaged or overheated.
How to check coolant:
Visually inspect the coolant container to check the level of coolant. It should be kept above the minimum line and not exceed the maximum line.
Check the coolant color, if it’s excessively dark then take your car to a mechanic to have the cooling system checked. If the coolant color is clear, also take your car to a mechanic to have the cooling system checked.

Engine Oil Change

Engine Oil Change Replacement Time frame: every 7,500 miles or in some vehicles longer. If your engine is new or rebuilt you will need to change your oil much sooner (500 miles) while everything is still wearing in.
How engine oil works: Engine oil keeps your engine running smoothly by giving lubrication to the engine.
How to check engine oil: Pull the dipstick out of your car. Clean it off with a rag. Put the dipstick in and back out to see the oil level.

It is a good idea to check your oil every time you fill your vehicle with gas.
If you develop on oil leak you want to catch it early. Most people will only be concerned if they notice oil puddles where they have parked their vehicle.
Check the bottom of your engine for signs of oil because even a small leak can cause trouble.
If you smell oil burning off your engine it’s usually because your valve cover gaskets leak.

The big problem about oil leaks it that if you don’t check your oil regularly then you run the risk of running your engine low on oil.


Shocks Replacement Time frame: 50,000-100,000 miles
How shocks work: They absorb the impact of the tires on the road.
How to check your shocks: The wear on shocks depends on the vehicle driving conditions. It is best to check them for wear by doing a bounce or leak test. The bounce test is done by standing on the door opening, then jump up and down. If the car bounces more than three times than the shocks are worn out.  Click here to learn more about strut replacement.