Take 10 minutes and use our Monthly Checklist to do your own quick visual car inspection and fluid levels check. A few minutes each month or Before a major trip of 100 miles or more, could save you a lot of money on repairs down the road. Following a basic car maintenance checklist can help keep you on the road and out of the repair shop. A little vehicular pampering can also help extend your fuel economy and put less of a burden on the environment. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.
Basic automobile maintenance and upkeep describes the action of examining and testing the state of your car's engine and servicing or replacing parts and fluids. Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure the safety, reliability, drivability, comfort and longevity of your car. Completing a monthly preventive maintenance checklist, will alert you to fixable problems, before it's too late.
The actual schedule for a monthly preventive maintenance checklist varies depending on the year, make, and model of your car, its driving conditions and driver behavior. Auto makers create their recommended service schedules based on boundary factors such as:
number of trips and distance traveled per trip per day
extreme hot or cold climate conditions
mountainous, dusty or de-iced roads
heavy stop-and-go vs. long-distance cruising
towing a trailer or other heavy load
Our monthly preventive maintenance checklist (created by experienced service technicians) recommends a maintenance schedule based on the driving conditions and behavior of the car owner or driver.
Common car maintenance tasks include:
Following a basic car maintenance checklist can help keep you on the road and out of the repair shop. A little vehicular pampering can also help extend your fuel economy and put less of a burden on the environment. Take 10 minutes and use our Monthly Checklist to do your own quick visual car inspection and fluid levels check. A few minutes each month could save you a lot of money on repairs down the road. Remember ... Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.
Take a few moments and become familiar with our Services link with more detail on all aspects. Take care of your car and it will take care of you. Following basic car maintenance tips can help keep you on the road and out of the repair shop. A little vehicular TLC can even help stretch your fuel dollar and help the environment too.
Here are some Car Care guidelines:
Most car batteries today are maintenance-free, sealed and can last more than three years. The first sign your battery should be replaced is often trouble starting the engine.
A car tire inflated to 35 pounds per square inch (psi) can lose one psi every month or for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature change, so your car maintenance checklist should include checking tire pressure. Find the recommended level in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb. And don’t forget the spare.
Rotate tires every 6,000 miles to prevent uneven wear, replace them when they become worn and have the alignment checked if the car pulls to either side when driving or if you notice uneven tire wear.
Checking and changing oil is critical to keep today’s engines running properly and efficiently. Follow manufacturer guidelines for changing the lubricant – generally, every 3,000 miles or three to six months.
Check the oil level with the engine off and the car parked on a level surface. Open the hood, remove the dipstick (usually Yellow in Color) , wipe it clean with a cloth or paper towel, then return it to the oil reservoir. Take it out again and see whether the level is within the acceptable range marked on the dipstick. If you add oil, don’t overfill, this could make a check engine light come on or worse, damage the engine.
Checking the automatic transmission fluid is another vital item on the car maintenance checklist. Look for a reservoir marked ATF (automatic transmission fluid) and follow the same steps as monitoring the oil level – only this time, with the engine running. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for change intervals, about every 30,000 miles.
Replace most engine coolant or antifreeze every 30,000 miles – or every two to three years. Newer formulas, however, may last up to 50,000 miles. To check coolant level, turn the car off and wait for the engine to cool. Locate the coolant reservoir (usually a translucent plastic tank) and eyeball the level of the coolant against the full and low indicators.
Power steering fluid should be changed every three years or 50,000 miles. If you have a power steering fluid reservoir, check the level visually; otherwise, follow the dipstick method. Low power steering fluid may indicate a leak, so have your mechanic take a look.
Check to ensure that brake fluid levels are within tolerance. How often you need to replace brake pads or other components depends on how you drive and typical driving conditions. Warning signs of a brake problem include noise, vibration or “grabbing” when you apply the brakes. Working on your brakes is a job probably best left to the professionals.
Basic car maintenance suggests changing your air filter each year or every 12,000-15,000 miles. A clean air filter can help your engine “breathe” better and improve gas mileage and reduce harmful emissions.
Replace it annually to help prevent debris from clogging your car’s fuel line.
Windshield wiper care is one of the most neglected basic car care tips. Replace the blades every six to 12 months or whenever the rubber becomes worn. Check the wiper fluid reservoir every week or so and keep it full.
With your car turned on and parked, have someone walk around to see that your lights are working – headlights, brake and tail lights, turn signals, etc. Replacing bulbs in today’s vehicles can be a challenge. Have a mechanic do the job, particularly replacing and aiming headlights. A pro also knows if the problem is a blown fuse, not a burned out bulb.
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