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Regular vs. Severe Maintenance Service Intervals for Denver drivers

Service Intervals

Recently a new customer came in to K-Motion with the complaint that her car was not running well. She was upset because her vehicle only had 40,000 miles on it, why was it running so poorly? As it turns out, she hadn't followed proper maintenance service intervals and her car was in bad shape because of it (see picture above). Many drivers are unaware of correct service interval protocols, especially the fact that manufacturers give two service schedules for every vehicle- a regular and a severe. So how does the average Denver driver know which one to follow?

To be honest, there is absolutely nothing 'regular' about driving in Denver or its surrounding cities (Englewood, Sheridan, Littleton, Cherry Hills, etc). I am sure most Colorado residents are aware of the fact that our state has gone through some major changes within the past ten years. Denver is the place to be and thousands of people have moved here. Traffic has become an enormous nightmare, particularly within the city of Denver. The heavy traffic and the increased number of cars on the road has caused a lot of wear and tear on city streets. It is not easy driving in this beautiful city of ours. While a 'severe' service schedule might sound extreme for the average driver, the following list is what the manufacturers say is equivalent to 'severe' driving conditions:

  • Most trips are less than four miles
  • Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
  • Regularly drive in very hot weather
  • The engine is a a low speed most of the tme (not on the highway)
  • Stop and go driving (like in heavy Denver traffic!)
  • Driving in dusty or muddy conditions
  • Routine towing of a trailer, hauling heavy loads, or carrying a car-top carrier around town

This is how your car works: Driving a few miles at higher speeds (think freeway in no traffic) lets the moisture in your vehicle's oil evaporate. Shorter trips or trips at lower speeds, especially when it is cold outside, do not allow for the engine to get hot enough to get rid of the water in the oil. Water + Oil = Sludge (nasty stuff in the picture above). Sludge is extremely damaging to all of the moving parts within your vehicle. On the other hand, towing or driving around town with heavy loads will cause the opposite problem, operating temperature will soar causing fluids to break down much quicker. Driving in dusty or muddy conditions (we are exposed to ALOT of dust living in this dry Colorado weather) means that more dust/dirt will get passed the air filter to contaminate the engine oil and the fuel system. 

It is important to assess these guidelines and decide for yourself which is the best maintenance service schedule for you to follow based on the way you drive. However, unless you do the majority of your driving in moderate temperatures on the highway, it is likely that you will be somewhere in between a regular and severe service schedule. Better safe than sorry, you don't want your oil to look like the picture above!

K-Motion Auto Service

2735 W Hampden Ave

Englewood, CO 80110


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