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2017 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

Like other car makers, Subaru gives you a maintenance schedule based on "X months or X miles".

But for a driver under "average" conditions, which is really more important?

I ask because right now, I have had my 2017 Forester for exactly 24 months. It has 15,100 miles on it.

According to my dealership, I'm due for not only an oil and lube and a tire rotation (both of which I plan to get), but I'm also due for other service, like cabin/air filter changing, etc., due to my car being at the 24 month mark. It's these other services that I question.

So, do I choose my services by mileage or by # of months?

I live in Missouri--hot, humid summers (but not "desert" hot), cold winters with some snow but not tons of it, and mainly suburban driving on decent roads. I consider these to be average conditions. Car is under a carport at night.

Any opinions on this? Do I just ignore how old my vehicle is and go by mileage when determining which service is due?

TBH, I've never understood the whole "months" aspect of the schedule, unless you drive under really severe conditions, like in constant high heat, lots of snow, and/or maybe a lot of off-road driving. Then I could see how the length of time might be as important as the number of miles you've racked up.

Thanks for your feedback!
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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So the months/mileage is basically to simplify the maintenance schedule.
It is simple so as not to confuse simple minds, but the fact is that the conditions under which any individual car is used can vary a lot.
The schedule attempts to address this by a "severe usage" category, but for some it would be overkill and for others insufficient.

Some items are more important one way (mileage) or another (time).
IMHO the most important being brake fluid.
Even if your car never leaves the driveway, your brake fluid will absorb moisture from the air over time and that water in the fluid when heated while using brakes, creates bubbles that will compress rather than your brake calipers... a dangerous situation.
In a humid climate, I would change the fluid every 2 years. I think Subaru says 30 months if I recall correctly. I tend to err on the side of caution.

Automatic transmission / power steering / coolant fluids are much more mileage related, but you can also tell by looking at the quality of the fluids.
You don't need to change a clean fluid in good condition, but that isn't going to stop some service departments from telling you that it needs to be done.

Asking or answering about oil change needs have a tendency to cause severe responses from forum members.
Some will tell you that you need to change oil religiously when either time or mileage are due.
Others will say it is only one or the other.
There is evidence that synthetic oils do hold up better allowing for more time / mileage between changes (per manufacturer recommendations as well) but opinions vary greatly on this subject).
Myself - I change it when it needs changing, which is when it starts to get dirty.
That happens sometimes sooner than later. Considering the relatively low cost, more frequent changes certainly won't hurt.

Cabin filter - Time doesn't apply, and they can last a long time if they aren't subjected to dusty roads.
I change mine every 3-4 months (dirt roads) and it costs me way less than half per year than a single dealer's charge about $100.
You can do it yourself in less than 5 minutes for less than $10 - Provided you actually need one. If you do it yourself you can check the filter's condition.
Most of the time is removing your glove box items. Take a look at a YouTube video. Not hard to find.
Or don't - Perhaps 5 minutes of your time is more important than a Benjamin in your wallet.

The engine air filter definitely is also ONLY mileage related, but if you drive around on any dirt, changing it more frequently will help keep your engine happy.
It's also easy to do. I change mine every six months or so when it is dry and dusty because of the dirt roads.
Again, by doing it myself, I can check the filter and only change it when it needs to be replaced.
 

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2017 Forester
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Discussion Starter #3
Wow, DragonSubie7, thank you so much for your detailed suggestions! I appreciate the information. And I'm going to check out Youtube on examining and changing the filters.:smile2:
 

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2010 FXT slush-box
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661 Posts
months and miles

I fell into that trap with the wife's WRX. I was getting ready to do the timing belt as she had 98k miles. Before doing the job, the car started with screeching noises under the hood (!) Found 2 of the timing belt idler pulleys seized up. Lucky it didn't trash the engine!

So it turns out for timing belt the 16 years meant more than the 98k miles.

I've been going with whichever hits first since then ;)

Jeff
 

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Generally speaking mileage is fine. Some things that should be done with time as pointed out at critical things like the brake fluid and timing belt.

You have a 2017 Foz so you don’t need to worry about the timing belt because your engine has a chain; you also have electric power steering so no fluid.

The belt you see is your accessory belt and that should be good for a 60k replacement. On the second replacement (120k) I would also have the tensioner and idler pulley replaced... they probably won’t make it to 180k.

The months miles is there for oil for the people that drive 5k a year. I have a hunch that part of this is for the dealer to inspect everything at regular intervals.

The severe thing is interesting. I have been running about 5k intervals on my Outback which has a 3750/7500 interval per the manual and it is running strong. And the 5k makes it easy to keep track of.
 

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2019 Forester CVT
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...
IMHO the most important being brake fluid.
Even if your car never leaves the driveway, your brake fluid will absorb moisture from the air over time and that water in the fluid when heated while using brakes, creates bubbles that will compress rather than your brake calipers... a dangerous situation.
In a humid climate, I would change the fluid every 2 years. I think Subaru says 30 months if I recall correctly. I tend to err on the side of caution.

....
Subaru recommends changing the brake fluid every 36 months ( I think) and I have done that. But your answer brought up a question to my mind. The brake hydraulic system is a closed system. Unless you open up the reservoir or do a brake caliper job, no air and moisture should be able to get into the system unless there is a leak. So is there more to the Subaru recommendation? Not trying to hijack the thread. If it should be it's own topic let me know.

I have owned and worked on many autos. I can say I have never changed/flushed the brake system unless it was opened up for work I was doing or a repair.

Dan
 

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2017 Touring CVT
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129 Posts
Thanks to DragonSubie from me too. I'm also very interested in this topic since I'm probably at the extreme end of the time/mileage relationship. As I've posted before, I took the opportunity to buy a friend's 2017 Touring last Spring. It was 16 months old and had only 1500 miles on it, owing to his illness. Now it's a few months short of 2 yrs. old and hasn't hit 3000 mi., a trend which probably will ease in the future, but I doubt I'll ever drive more than 5kmi/yr. I like everything about this model, but we have a 2010 Cobalt which gets nearly all the miles. My thought now is to buy the 10 yr./100kmi Subaru extended warranty within the next year with the thought that it's certain that I'd hit the 10-year criterion first. I have been impressed with our local Subaru franchise and am comfortable with the idea of 10 years of repair bill free driving at a cost which seems very reasonable per other threads here.
 

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2013/14 2.5i-L CVT
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I've never understood the whole "months" aspect of the schedule, unless you drive under really severe conditions, like in constant high heat, lots of snow, and/or maybe a lot of off-road driving.
Lower than normal mileages also indicate "severe conditions" because they usually mean the vehicle is driven mostly for short distances which aren't long enough for oil contaminants, especially of absorbed water, to be 'burnt' off.


Other components such as brakes tend to be applied more per miles driven than is the case for high mileage cars spending more time of highways.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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Subaru recommends changing the brake fluid every 36 months ( I think) and I have done that. But your answer brought up a question to my mind. The brake hydraulic system is a closed system. Unless you open up the reservoir or do a brake caliper job, no air and moisture should be able to get into the system unless there is a leak. So is there more to the Subaru recommendation? Not trying to hijack the thread. If it should be it's own topic let me know.

I have owned and worked on many autos. I can say I have never changed/flushed the brake system unless it was opened up for work I was doing or a repair.

Dan
If it were a truly sealed system, you'd be right. It appears that way. but appearances can be misleading.
The brake hydraulics are not air-tight sealed. They can't be, because they heat up and the pressure created must be released or the brakes would stay engaged every time you had used them a few times. It isn't opening the filler for a short time, it's the exhale and inhale over a long period of time that adds up to the addition of water in the fluid..
It also doesn't take much water vapor to mess things up.
:nerd:
Little bubbles = big problems.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5 Premium CVT
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I didn't see this mentioned, but Subaru clearly states that they expect you to maintain your vehicle according to their schedule. This may not matter much if you're not under warranty, but, since I still am, I do everything suggested, when it's suggested to do so in the Warranty & Maintenance booklet.

If something does go wrong, I want to be able to prove that I have complied with their maintenance requirements. This includes the little stuff like changing the cabin air filter every year.

I don't do any of the extra stuff the dealer tries to pawn off - only what's in the book.

Mike
 

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2016 Forester
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Canadian schedule says inspect and replace if necessary for air and cabin filters, not you must replace them. If that's what the dealer told you I think they are trying to make a quick buck off you.
 

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2018 Forester XT Touring
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My wife’s XT sees little daily driving, we just had the first serviced performed at 3k miles after 5 months. I wanted to get the break in oil changed on schedule but now that that’s done I may stretch the “time” schedule just a-bit. She’ll never hit the mileage schedule.
 

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The air filters are a really, really easy DIY item, even the engine one. I usually change mine yearly right after the spring pollen season ends.
 

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'17 Imp Ltd wagon CVT
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If it were a truly sealed system, you'd be right. It appears that way. but appearances can be misleading.
The brake hydraulics are not air-tight sealed. They can't be, because they heat up and the pressure created must be released or the brakes would stay engaged every time you had used them a few times. It isn't opening the filler for a short time, it's the exhale and inhale over a long period of time that adds up to the addition of water in the fluid..
It also doesn't take much water vapor to mess things up.
:nerd:
Little bubbles = big problems.
Much of the expansion/contraction of brake fluid due to heat cycling is accommodated by the design of the cap on the master cylinder... the rubber seal on the cap has an air pocket above it which allows the seal to move up and down while maintaining an "air tight" seal on the fluid.

So, while atmospheric contamination of brake fluid is a factor in why brake fluid should be periodically changed, it's not entirely the whole story of why brake fluid should be replaced periodically. Modern cars have addressed most of that age old problem... but there's more to the story than just water/air to consider.

This article explains: https://blog.firestonecompleteautocare.com/brakes/everything-you-need-to-know-about-brake-fluid/

The bottom line? Change your brake fluid when the maintenance schedule for your vehicle advises... at a minimum. Every two years is better... and every year is better still. I have changed the brake fluid in brand new Subarus bought in the last ten years (that's modern :) ) and have always found air and contaminants in the "brand new" fluid removed. In one case the contamination, which I've saved) defies comprehension of how and why it was in there. There has never been a time when my brakes did not work noticeably better after a fluid flush. Anyone planning of keeping a vehicle for many years will face brake system maintenance... if you've kept ahead of of your service intervals the resulting costs for components will be significantly less.
 
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I try to learn something new every day. The article was worth reading and informative...
Many are victims of myths which at one point were facts, and brake fluid appears to be one of them.
Considering how easy it is to change the fluid by bleeding the brakes, it is something worth my time every two years.
In my case I also don't use brakes much because of few required stops and no traffic.
On a typical 50 mile drive, I might use my brakes 10 times...
Not typical, but even for me, the fluid is degrading over time, and like you, I usually notice brake improvement after a fluid refresh..
Thanks again for the post.
 

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2019 Forester CVT
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Much of the expansion/contraction of brake fluid due to heat cycling is accommodated by the design of the cap on the master cylinder... the rubber seal on the cap has an air pocket above it which allows the seal to move up and down while maintaining an "air tight" seal on the fluid.

So, while atmospheric contamination of brake fluid is a factor in why brake fluid should be periodically changed, it's not entirely the whole story of why brake fluid should be replaced periodically. Modern cars have addressed most of that age old problem... but there's more to the story than just water/air to consider.

This article explains: https://blog.firestonecompleteautocare.com/brakes/everything-you-need-to-know-about-brake-fluid/

The bottom line? Change your brake fluid when the maintenance schedule for your vehicle advises... at a minimum. Every two years is better... and every year is better still. I have changed the brake fluid in brand new Subarus bought in the last ten years (that's modern :) ) and have always found air and contaminants in the "brand new" fluid removed. In one case the contamination, which I've saved) defies comprehension of how and why it was in there. There has never been a time when my brakes did not work noticeably better after a fluid flush. Anyone planning of keeping a vehicle for many years will face brake system maintenance... if you've kept ahead of of your service intervals the resulting costs for components will be significantly less.
Great article and information.
Thanks
 

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2017 Forester
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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you to everyone for your helpful responses! Good point about being able to show Subaru in future, should the need arise, that I did the expected (owner's manual) maintenance (even if it was just "inspecting").

I'll be getting my oil and tire rotation this weekend and have also bought a new cabin/air filter, which I expect to put in shortly. After watching some Youtube videos, yep, I think even a non-automotively inclined person like myself can manage to snap out a glove box, change the filter, and snap the glove box back in. Thank you for the tip. :smile:
 

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2011 Forester
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Which ever comes first regardless of drive style. Fluids (even synthetic) ages and breaks down from moisture condensing from environmental temp changes. Air filters inspect and if it looks good go by the whichever is longest.

Personally it is cheaper for me to just go with following the interval (month or mileage) that become *due first* as my vehicles tend to last much longer than most people I know and my gas mileage is always as good (or better) than advertised.
 
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