Your car needs regular maintenance to make it run safely, have a good performance on the road and extend its lifetime. Here is a list of items to check in your routine vehicle maintenance. Some of them should be checked on a regular basis, while others should only be maintained for a long time. Make sure to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations and maintenance schedule.
Short Term Checklist:
Table of Contents
- 1. Engine Oil
- 2. Radiator Coolant (Antifreeze)
- 3. Brake Fluid, Brake Pad, and Brake Rotors
- 4. Engine Air Filter
- 5. Cabin Air Filter
- 6. Check Tires
- 7. Windshield Wiper
- 8. Headlights, Turn Signals, and Parking Lights
- 9. Wax Vehicle
- 10. Wash Your car
- 11. Transmission Fluid
- 12. Transfer Case Fluid
- 13. Shock Absorbers
- 14. Spark Plugs
- 15. Serpentine Belt
- 16. Belts and Hoses
- Final Thought
1. Engine Oil
Check your maintenance’s manual to find out what type of engine oil your car needs and how often to change it. Some suggest changing your oil every 3,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. But it also depends on your vehicle type and driving conditions.
The function of engine oil is to lubricate the engine and protect its metal parts from corrosion. The oil also helps to cool the engine by carrying heat away from the moving parts. Over time, the oil becomes dirty and can lose its ability to lubricate and protect the engine. It’s important to change your car’s engine oil at regular intervals, as recommended by the manufacturer.
2. Radiator Coolant (Antifreeze)
Inspect the coolant to ensure it is at a suitable level, and see if it is clean and not dirty or rusty. Check for any leaks to determine where the coolant is leaking from. You may be advised to change the coolant every 30,000 miles or add it when at a low level. The function of radiator coolant is to transfer heat away from the engine into the radiator, where air flows over the fins of the radiator to cool it down.
3. Brake Fluid, Brake Pad, and Brake Rotors
The function of brake fluid in the baking system is to stop your car. It is important to check your brake fluid in the process of maintenance, and change it when needed. There is no standard when to change the brake fluid. Some vehicles may be suggested around 20,000 miles while some may be advised about 45,000 miles.
Replacing brake pads should be done according to your car’s service schedule or manufacturer’s recommendations. You should also have the brake rotors inspected regularly for any signs of wear or damage.
4. Engine Air Filter
The function of the engine air filter is to stop dust and other large particles from going into the engine’s cylinders. Without a proper air filter, dirt, dust, and other harmful particles can damage your car’s engine. Engine air filter replacement is crucial because it increases your fuel efficiency, lowers your pollutants, and helps your engine last longer.
5. Cabin Air Filter
Replacing your cabin air filter can help improve the quality of air in your car. When dust or pollen builds upon this filter, it can reduce airflow through vents and make breathing difficult. Your cabin air filter will become dark and mildewy if long time no change, which will do bad to your health. Replacing this filter every 12 to 18 months is recommended.
6. Check Tires
In order for your car to handle properly, the tires need to be in good condition. Check tires regularly to ensure they have a suitable amount of air pressure, especially before a long trip. Over or under-inflated tires can reduce gas mileage and make your car difficult to handle at highway speeds, which will threaten your safety. Be sure tread depth is sufficient as well, as bald or irregularly worn tires are dangerous.
Rotate front and back tires when necessary to ensure even tire wear, which can extend the life of your tires.
7. Windshield Wiper
Wipers keep your windshield clean by wiping away rain, snow, and debris. Damaged or worn-out blades can streak or squeak, and may even damage the windshield.
Inspect your wiper blades regularly to ensure they are clean, intact, and properly aligned. Also, check for cracks in your windshield caused by loose wiper arms. Replace them when necessary.
8. Headlights, Turn Signals, and Parking Lights
Make sure all of your lights, including headlights, turn signals, and parking lights are working. If you have a bulb that is out or broken on any of these things it could easily cause an accident if the light goes off while driving at night.
9. Wax Vehicle
If you want your car to look shiny and new, waxing it is a must. Not only does waxing give your car a nice appearance, but it also protects the paint from weathering, UV rays, and also reduces the chance of rust. Use a good quality car wax twice a year to keep your car looking great.
10. Wash Your car
Wash your car weekly and keep it clean to avoid rust and corrosion. Keeping it clean may help increase the life of your car and let you have a good feeling.
Long Term Checklist:
11. Transmission Fluid
There are two types of fluids in your car. One is oil (engine, power steering, and other parts), the other is transmission fluid (responsible for carrying gears).
Transmission fluid is a lubricant that helps keep your car’s gears running smoothly. if it’s time for a transmission fluid change, you’ll want to add new fluid to your car and also flush out the old fluid.
To avoid costly transmission problems, it’s important to change your transmission fluid on a regular basis. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 100,000 miles. Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
12. Transfer Case Fluid
Transfer case fluid helps transfer power from the transmission to the front and rear axles. A vehicle’s transfer case is usually found on 4×4 and all-wheel drive vehicles. It is important to check the level of fluid in your transfer case on a regular basis, especially if you drive your vehicle frequently off-road or in difficult terrain.
13. Shock Absorbers
Shock absorbers help your car pass over bumps and potholes smoothly. If they’re not functioning properly, your car will start bouncing and vibrating more. This can lead to premature tire wear and even damage to the car’s suspension system. If you have them serviced regularly, it could save you repair costs in the long run.
14. Spark Plugs
Spark plugs provide electricity to the cylinders in your car that ignite the compressed fuel and air mixture within them, resulting in a combustion event that drives the piston down.
It might be time to replace your spark plugs if your car is having problems with starting or your engine runs improperly.
15. Serpentine Belt
The serpentine belt is the belt that loops around a number of pulleys in order to power various components in the engine, such as the alternator and water pump. A worn serpentine belt can cause these components to fail, so it’s important to inspect it regularly and replace it when necessary.
16. Belts and Hoses
Belts and hoses are often overlooked maintenance parts as they don’t need to be replaced on a regular basis, but it’s still important to check them for wear. Look at the belts closely. They should not have any cracks or frays in the outer layer of rubber. The belt is gripping onto something so you can move it around with your hand, if it moves more than an inch or so, it’s time to replace it.
Hoses shouldn’t have any bulges, leaks, or kinks in them. If you see any of these things, it’s time for a replacement. As with the belts, grab onto the hose and try to move it; if it moves more than an inch or so, it’s time for a replacement.
Follow the car maintenance schedule and keep records of what you’ve done in your routine vehicle maintenance. You can do the maintenance in the dealer, independent shop, or yourselves if you can do some.