Q: I own a 2004 Corvette coupe purchased new in 2003. It has only 6,000 miles on it and is driven once a month in spring, summer and fall. I have a battery tender and had the battery replaced in 2010 for safety. I originally had yearly services, have had the coolant replaced a couple of times again to play it safe. I always have Mobil 1 oil changes and always drive to fully warm up the car — no short trips. I have been going every two years for the past couple of services. The car is covered in an attached garage. I try to get non-oxy gas and put a fuel stabilizer in every fall. Can I go even longer, say three years at this annual mileage? I have developed a small leak of transmission fluid from the transaxle. It appears to stop at a drop or two if I increase driving. I have been told seals can sometimes leak if the car is not driven regularly. What do you think about my maintenance program?
A: In a word — overkill. Like you, I’m a hard-core Corvette enthusiast. I have a pair now — the 1970 C3 Stingray I’ve owned and driven since 1972 and a 2009 C6 that purchased in 2012. For the first two decades of its life, I serviced the C3 within an inch of its life — as you’ve been doing. Then, as I began driving it less and less each year, I began doing less and less maintenance. I just serviced it this spring — oil/filter/lube/brake fluid — for the first time in four years. The car still runs well, shows no signs of neglect and still puts a smile on my face every time I drive it — about once a month, like you.
I service the C6 per GM’s maintenance schedule. I put about 4,000 miles and one oil/filter change per year on the car — no small expense with 10.5 quarts in the dry sump oil system. I change the clutch fluid every couple of months, and the brake fluid every two years. At 19,000 miles, I plan to change the air and cabin filters this year.
Like you, I spent decades over-maintaining my vehicles. Three reasons: I bought them used and had to keep them at least 10 years/150,000 miles; I couldn’t afford to have them professionally serviced; and, of course, peace of mind.
Was it necessary? No. Is it wrong to over-maintain? No. It’s your vehicle, you obviously are fully vested in owning and enjoying it and if your maintenance schedule gives you peace of mind, continue with it.
One caveat: I wouldn’t go longer than two years on the oil and filter — just for the peace of mind.
Q: I have a 2008 Toyota Avalon, excellent condition, 90,000 miles. I have had this car serviced regularly at the Toyota dealership ... oil changes, filters, tire rotations, etc. Now that I am due for 90,000-mile service and a brake job, is it best for me to have this done at the Toyota dealership (more expensive) or at a reliable auto service center, of which it appears there are many?
A: I looked at the 90,000-mile maintenance schedule for your Toyota and see that the only items requiring replacement are the air and cabin filters, and the engine oil and filter. Tire rotation and a number of inspections are also suggested. I see no reason why these services could not be successfully performed by an independent service agency. The fact that you mention “there are many” and don’t identify a specific shop you’ve dealt with, along with the fact that you’ve had the vehicle serviced at the dealership so far suggests that you should stick with what’s worked for you. The dealer has all your service records and apparently has done satisfactory work for you, so why change?