Reader Question: Servicing ’07 Yaris?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Don asks:  I bought a 2007 Toyota Yaris base autobox hatchback brand new in May 2007.  I’ve never kept a car a long time or into higher mileage range before this one. Now I plan to drive it until it rusts out (I live in PA), or until something major and expensive breaks, like say the transmission.  I only drive about 9,000 miles per year, mostly in stop-and-go city traffic. The car has about 130K on it now.  I’ve never taken good care of it, other than regular oil changes. I am wondering now if I should have fluids changed, including, coolant, transmission, or brake fluid etc, all of which have never been changed – and should I have things like spark plugs and air filter replaced – the former has never been done, and the latter only once about 60K ago. My recent PA annual inspection cost about $240, which makes the car good for a whole another year, and I consider that a good value for a year. I’ve replaced the battery, tires, front brake rotors and pads, and the muffler all more than once, and it needs wiper blades almost annually. Should I bother to change fluids and plugs or not? I’m disabled so I can’t do any of this myself. Thanks in advance for your opinion.

My reply: My god, sir! That poor car! It is way overdue for service! It is testimony to the goodness of Toyota vehicles that you’ve not experienced cooling/braking system problems yet.

Brake fluid becomes contaminated fairly quickly and if not replaced with fresh fluid the result is a much increased likelihood of lines rusting from the inside out, deteriorating internal seals, failed ABS pumps, etc. It is penny-wise and pound foolish to not have the brake system bled and fresh fluid instilled every three years or so. Have a look inside the brake master cylinder reservoir. If the fluid is black – and I’m betting it is by now – it is bad!

Coolant also degrades chemically and the result, eventually, is a clogged radiator and gunked-up internal passages within the engine which makes overheating more likely, which makes engine failure more likely. If the car still has the factory (2007) hoses they should all be replaced as they are all likely to burst/leak at any time.

The plugs can go 100,000-plus miles but it is sound policy to at least have them removed around then to check them and to prevent them from seizing to the head(s). If you plan to keep this car for another 14 years I would have the plugs replaced and the wires (if the car has plug wires) too.

You must have the fuel filter replaced. Please get this done ASAP! It should have been replaced about 60,000 miles ago.

The air filter should be checked regularly and replaced when it is dirty. As a general rule, these need to be replaced about once every 30,000 miles or so – but it can be more often if you live in an area that’s dusty, etc. The filter filters the air coming in to your engine; if it is dirty, air is not getting in as it should and dirt probably is. Dirt is abrasive and will increase wear on the engine.

Your Yaris has been good to you – I recommend being good to it!

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