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.
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.
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.