One Year or 15,000 Mile Service

15,000 Mile Service - Most manufactures agree to perform a basic engine oil and oil filter change, along with basic car safety inspection, brake pad inspection, air cabin filter, tire rotation, windshield wiper inspection. This service is the third inspection due after the initial purchase of the car and is not only used to replace the engine oil and filter and additional services and inspections. Any obvious malfunction can be repaired and warranty report created, this sheet or file is stored in a central database used by all dealerships and factory repair outlets.

How to Change Engine Oil and Oil Filter - Locate the oil pan drain plug, some cars have a drain plug on the transmission, make sure you identify the proper plug. Position a oil drain pan below the oil pan drain plug, next loosen and remove the plug by turning it counter clockwise, used oil will flow from the oil pan until empty. Inspect the drain plug sealing washer and replace if necessary. Reinstall the oil drain plug and tighten. Next loosen the oil filter; you can do this with an oil filter wrench or a large set of pliers. When the oil filter is loosened a small amount of oil will leak from it, so use shop towels to minimize spillage. After the oil has finished draining remove the oil filter, inspect the oil filter sealing gasket, be sure it is on the old filter, if not it is still stuck to the engine block and needs to be removed. Next, clean the surface of the block, take a small amount of oil and apply it to the oil filter seal. 

Next reinstall the filter and tighten by hand. The work under the car is finished, now we can add the new motor oil to the engine. Most vehicle engines take four to five quarts, you should check your owner's manual or check the level as you add to be sure the correct level is achieved. Remove the oil filter cap from the engine, most engine oil fill ports are marked with a yellow tag. Remove the oil filler cap and add the manufactures recommended engine oil. Be sure to recheck the oil level after the engine has been run and add if needed. Be sure to check under the car to make sure no leaks have occurred. Take your used oil and filter to a reclamation station in your area to dispose of properly.

How to Check Fluid Levels - A car operates using a variety of fluids, engine oil, transmission fluid, either standards or automatic fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, front and rear differential fluids on some models. All fluids must be maintained at a proper level, while some are easily checked others will require a lift. First start with the vehicle in park on level ground, in cool condition with the engine off. Next, release the hood latch and lift the hood, the hood will only open slightly because all hoods have been designed with a secondary safety latch that must be activated before the hood will open completely. 

First check the engine oil level (if you are changing the engine oil, check the oil level after the oil change has been performed) this engine oil level dip stick is usually indicated by a yellow handle. There are two level indicator marks, upper level and lower level. The distance in between these marks represent a quart, if the oil is in between the marks the level is ok. If the oil level is below the lower level mark or not on the dip stick at all engine oil must be added until between the inductor lines.

How to Check and Replace Brake Pads - A vehicles brake pads wear out at different rates depending on design, driving habits, brake pad quality, stop and go traffic and freeway conditions, etc. A typical brake replacement will include a brake caliper, brake pads and brake rotor. Hydraulic pressure is supplied to the brake caliper forcing the pads against the brake rotor causing friction to slow the vehicle. Most brake pads have some kind the sensing device that will warn you if the brake pads are getting low, either a brake light or a noise sensor the will make a high pitched squeal when the pads have worn down. 

After a brake service has been performed and the car is safety on level ground, recheck the brake pedal operation, this should be done with the car running and in park to aid the power brake system. Press the brake pedal up and allow to return and check proper brake pedal operation, if proper brake pedal operation not present further inspection is required (do not drive). As you first drive your car, start slow and test the brakes, listen for any sounds that are not normal. Observe the brake operation if any irregularities occur inspect the brake system immediately.

How to Change an Engine Air Filter - A car engine must have clean air to process, if any debris is present in the intake air it will cause premature engine failure. Inspecting the air filter is a simple process in most cases and typically only involves opening the hood and locating the air filter housing that is usually near the air intake. Remove the clips or screws that hold the lid of the air filter housing this will allow you to easily access the air filter. You can quickly inspect the filter to determine if it needs to be changed. Some slight discoloration is acceptable; however an air filter that is dirty should be changed to restore proper airflow to your vehicles engine.

Car Safety Inspection - A vehicle inspection is necessary to find any malfunction caused by outside forces such as road debris or defective parts. Start by checking under the hood, inspect the cooling hoses, vacuum lines and serpentine belt for any obvious cracks or breaks and repair as needed. Next look for any fluid leaks and pin point their source for further repair procedure. Next, inspect under the vehicle to observe suspension components and drive line universal or ball joints, replace any components that exhibits excessive wear or torn lubrication boots. Also inspect for "rust dust" on any frame member, universal joints, sway bars, locating arms, strut rod mounting bolts and any other main frame or suspension components. This rust colored dust is created from metal on metal friction with no lubrication and is indication that the components has failed.

Check Windshield Wipers - In foul weather it is essential to have new wiper blades to ensure proper windshield vision and control of the car. Replacing car wiper blades is relatively simple; first move the wiper arm to the upright position, next release the clip that attaches the wiper blade to the wiper arm. Check blades for cracking or tears in the wiper rubber. Then, match up the new wiper blade to the old blade, next snap the new wiper blade in place and lower the wiper arm, repeat this operation on the opposite side.

Check Tire Wear and Rotation - Car tires are made out of flexible rubber which is incorporated with wire and fabric. The tires of an automobile support the braking, load, traction, and steering. Tires also absorb shock caused by bumps in the road and help provide a smooth ride to the passengers. Tires need to be maintained at a prescribed air pressure and rotated at scheduled intervals. Most vehicle tire pressure recommendations are located on a sticker in the driver's door jam or on the side wall of the tire. 

While tire and car manufacturers recommend a prescribed tire pressure, it has been shown that slightly more tire pressure is optimal for achieving higher fuel economy by reducing rolling resistance. Some hybrid cars are manufactured with tires that can hold up to 55 P.S.I. as compared with the usual 32 P.S.I. For safety and better gas mileage always keep your tires properly inflated. Tire rotation patterns are dependent on the vehicle driving conditions and inflation. Most vehicle rotation pattern is straight front wheels to rear wheels.

If further assistance is needed, our certified car repair technicians are ready to answer your car questions.

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Written by
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35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2013-08-16)