Use this vehicle maintenance checklist to keep your car healthy and running efficiently. The relatively low cost of preventative maintenance can reduce the risk of major breakdowns and save you a lot of money in the long run.
By Michael Jones
- Engine Oil. Check oil level regularly and add more if needed. If you are using a lot of extra oil, inspect for leaks.
- Hoses. Inspect all hoses monthly and replace any that are bulging, rotten, cracked, or brittle. Tighten any loose clamps.
- Belts. Check all belts monthly and replace any that are glazed, frayed, or worn. Tighten those that have too much slack.
- Tire Pressure. Check tire pressure weekly and add air if low. Regularly inspect tires for problems or signs of wear such as leaks, damage, or bulges.
- Air Filter. Check once a month and replace if dirty.
- Coolant. Check coolant level weekly and add when needed. Dirty oil can cause serious cooling system problems, so inspect oil to make sure it is free of rust particles.
- Window washer fluid. Check weekly and add if low.
- Lights. Check headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard flashers to make sure they are all working. Replace any burnt out lamps or fuses.
- Power Steering Fluid. Check the level and top up when necessary. If you have to add more than 2 or 3 ounces, have the pump and hoses inspected for possible leaks. Power steering fluid should be replaced every 30,000 miles.
Every Three Months:
- Change Oil and Filter. This should be done every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
- Battery. A good habit is to check the battery with every oil change. Make sure the cables and terminals are not loose or corroded, and replace damaged or worn cables and clamps. Clean corrosion with a toothbrush or small wire brush.
- Brake Fluid. Check the level and add if low. If you need to add more than 2 ounces, you should have they system inspected for leaks or other problems.
- Transmission Fluid. Check the level and add if needed. Replace according to manufacturer's recommendation, usually every 25,000 miles.
Every Six Months:
- Wiper Blades. Replace if torn, brittle, or smeary.
- Check Spare Tire. Make sure it is fully inflated and that the jack and wrench are present and in working order.
- Exhaust. Inspect for rust, damage, holes, and loose clamps or supports.
- Rotate Tires. Most manufacturers recommend tire rotation every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Some owners make a habit of having this done every other oil change.
- Struts and Shock Absorbers. Inspect for oil seepage and wear. You can also use your hand or foot to push down on the car. When you let go, if it bounces more than once, the shock absorbers may be weak.
- Brakes. Have brakes checked once a year for signs of wear and replace according to mechanic's recommendation. Waiting too long to change shoes and pads can result in damage to drums and rotors.
- Fuel Filter. To keep the engine running efficiently, it is recommended that the fuel filter be changed annually, or every 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.
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