How do I distinguish between “severe” and “normal” driving?


If my owner’s manual has two different maintenance schedules, how can I figure out where I fit?


You’re right, most manufacturers these days recommend different maintenance schedules for the same car, depending upon how you drive or the conditions in which you drive. Manufacturers call it “severe” or “normal” driving. You can probably assume you are a “normal” driver, unless one or more of the following applies:

  • Your car spends a significant amount of time idling (typically in stop-and-go commuter traffic)
  • You drive on a lot of dusty, dirty or gravel roads
  • You use your vehicle frequently for towing or carrying big loads or otherwise putting a heavy strain on the engine.

Every driver is different, and every set of conditions is different, so it might be hard to say for sure whether your driving is “severe.” For instance, it’s hard to quantify the amount of idling; but if you commute in Denver’s rush hour every day, you are almost certainly in the severe category. Also, if most of your trips are under 10 miles, that kind of quick-trip driving is considered severe.

Bottom line: If you think you fall into the “severe” driving category, you should adhere to the maintenance schedule that calls for more frequent oil changes, brake replacements, air-filter swaps, etc. When in doubt, check it out – Lake Arbor Auto will help you decide which category best fits you.