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Smyrna Drivers Severe Service Maintenance Schedules


Your vehicle manufacturer publishes two auto maintenance schedules. The regular schedule and the severe service schedule. It’d be wrong for us to tell you that everyone in Atlanta always needs to follow the severe service schedule – but its wishful thinking to say that the regular schedule is always good enough for your sedan.

Contact Cooper Lake Automotive to learn more about Severe Service Requirements for your sedan
You can find us at:
4739 South Cobb DR. SE
Smyrna, GA 30082
Or call us at 770-431-1936

At Cooper Lake Automotive we’ll give you the definitions and explain the issues, and you can be the judge. Most manufactures list the following as severe conditions:

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles.
  • Most of your trips are less than 10 miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway.
  • You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • Driving in very hot or very cold weather.

So think about your typical week. Do you live a block from a GA freeway on-ramp and enjoy a non-stop commute to work in Marietta or Vinings? Or are you like the rest of us where 90% of our trips are on the severe service list?

The answer may be different at different times of the year and for the different drivers in your family. Think of the two service schedules as bookends. Let’s suppose your owner’s manual says the severe service oil change recommendation is 3,000 miles and the standard recommendation is 5,000 miles. You know that you need to change the oil somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. Look at your driving patterns and Smyrna road conditions and honestly evaluate which end of the spectrum you’re closer to.

If you have a job in a neighboring town such as Atlanta or Marietta and most of your commute is freeway miles, you may choose the regular service schedule for your car. On the other hand, if you live within a few miles of work and only get on the highway a handful of times every month, something closer to the severe service schedule is more appropriate.

Now why is this so important? Moisture builds up in the engine oil from normal condensation. Short trips around Atlanta or driving when it’s really cold means that the engine doesn’t heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate. The water in the oil leads to oil sludge that gums up your engine and doesn’t let the oil protect it as well. That’s why you need to change your oil more frequently – to get the sludge out before it causes problems.

Towing, heavy loads and very hot GA summer weather means that your engine and transmission will operate at higher temperatures and with more stress. The fluids will break down more quickly. Additives that clean and prevent corrosion will be depleted sooner. Dusty conditions, which may extend also to areas with high air pollution, mean that fluids will get dirty faster and that filters will plug up and won’t work right.

All of these things can lead to premature wear and repairs down the road. They’ll also hurt your fuel economy. If you want some personalized advice, talk with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service advisor. We can help you restore your vehicle to good working order and help you know the best schedule to follow. If you’re not sure, err on the side of protection.

Watch our informative AutoNetTV auto video tips at the top of this post.

Severe Service Requirements


A lot of our viewers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their car owners’ manual. It can be confusing. Let’s clear the air on this subject. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufacturer of automotive products and fluids. She’s been in the automotive business for 20 years and is a speaker, a trainer, and a writer. Cricket says there’s so much confusion on this topic because, “Most owners’ manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called ‘regular service’ and ‘severe service’. Sometimes they’re simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement, and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time.

Manufacturers create these specific schedules for each vehicle they make. So there isn’t one generic schedule that applies to all cars. In addition to your owners’ manual, Smyrna automotive repair centers subscribe to information services that provide the maintenance schedules for every vehicle – so they can help you know when to take care of needed services. Below is a typical definition for severe service.

  • Most trips are less than four miles
  • Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
  • You drive in very hot weather
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the highway)
  • Stop and go driving
  • You operate your vehicle in dusty or muddy conditions
  • You tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier

It’s common sense: Just a few minutes at freeway speeds allows the moisture in the oil to evaporate. Very short trips, or trips of less than ten miles when it’s very cold, don’t allow the engine to heat up enough to get rid of the water. And water in the oil leads to damaging sludge. Also, towing and heavy loads raise operating temperatures and cause fluids to breakdown more quickly. Dusty and muddy driving means that more dirt will get past the air filter to contaminate the fuel system and engine oil.

The bottom line is that you need to decide for yourself if the regular or severe service schedule is right for you, based on your driving. Look at your owners’ manual, or talk with your Cooper Lake Automotive service advisor who can help you know which schedule to follow. Cooper Lake Automotive is located at 4739 South Cobb DR. SE, Smyrna GA.,

Here is what a fleet manager said recently: “Since city miles are generally tougher on vehicles than highway miles, we use the manufacturer’s severe service schedule as the basis for our preventative maintenance program. We massage those schedules over time, increasing or decreasing the service intervals so that they make the most sense. There is a little bit of art to go along with the science.

Make an honest evaluation of your driving habits. Unless you do mostly GA highway driving in moderate weather, you’ll likely have a fairly good amount of severe service mixed in. Some people just want to play it safe and follow the severe service recommendations, rather than analyzing how they drive each month.