Everyone should be aware of the essential car maintenance checklist and how to address each item. If you don’t know how to address an item, make sure you become buddies with someone who does know and are willing to give you a hand!
The Essential Car Maintenance Checklist
- Don’t skip a scheduled service. Check your owner’s guide and find out when your scheduled car maintenance services are. It involves checking or replacing parts like spark plugs, wires and timing belts. Down the line, other major parts may need replacing in order to keep your vehicle running efficiently and safely . While it may cost a little more, scheduling service through your dealer not only guarantees genuine parts and expertise, it also keeps your service history in line and up-to-date.
- Replace the air filter. Think of it as your car’s lungs. A clogged air filter can reduce gas mileage in older cars with carbureted engines. Replacing clogged air filters on newer cars can help improve acceleration time.
- Oil change. This is one of the simplest car maintenance services you can do to keep your vehicle in good running condition. Not maintaining it could void your warranty (check your owner’s manual to find out when you’re due for service) and even cause an engine failure, which can cost thousands. Keeping your cooling system in working order is also important. So, this is also a good time to have a system flush. Getting the pump, hoses, fluids and belts checked is also part of proper cooling-system maintenance.
- Check your tire pressure. Check your tire pressure regularly (including the often-overlooked spare!) This helps to improve fuel efficiency, cut down on tire wear and tear and lets you know if your vehicle is correctly aligned.
- Coolant. That liquid in the radiator is a real multitasker. It serves as antifreeze, coolant and guards against corrosion in the cooling system. Do check the level regularly, but also understand its cleanliness and potency diminish. Topping off and changing should only be done with the right coolant type and water mixture ratio.
- Tire replacements. Eventually you’ll need fresh tires. The best way to confirm is with a tread depth gauge or check built-in wear bars. Age is also a concern, since longer-asting tires and use of multiple sets (i.e., winter and summer) can mean safety is compromised even with adequate tread depth.
- Car batteries. Even if you keep your terminals clean and your charging system works fine, you’ll eventually need to replace the battery. When you do, do it right. Use only the battery that matches manufacturer’s specs at the very least. Consider upgrading to advanced-technology batteries that offset higher initial cost with extended life and more consistent performance.
- Brakes. Invest in your brakes. Check the fluid level and change it every so often. Keep an eye on brake-pad condition, and replace as soon as safety is compromised.
- Wash it. Washing not only keeps your vehicle looking good, it’s also a good way to maintain that new-car finish. Allowing layers of dead bugs, bird droppings, dirt and chemicals to accumulate on your vehicle can strip away wax and eventually paint. If you decide to wash your car yourself use a product designed specifically for cars.