According to an Automotive Research study, consumers delay routine auto maintenance for various reasons, including inconvenient timing and costs.
Though this reasoning may feel “penny wise,” it’s instead “dollar foolish.” The most reported causes of breakdowns include common issues that could’ve been avoided altogether with regular maintenance.
Car maintenance doesn’t have to be an intimidating chore – using a checklist for vehicle maintenance will not only save you time and money in the long run, but it could save your life on the road.
Below I’ve created the ultimate checklist to keep your car running smoothly for years to come.
Why Is Vehicle Maintenance Important?
Performing maintenance checkups at regular intervals will help optimize your vehicle performance in addition to preventing costly and unforeseen mechanical repairs.
You can even get better gas mileage when your vehicle is in proper working order. Alternately, failing to perform routine maintenance could cause extensive repairs to come and may even void the terms of your warranty.
Proper maintenance can extend your vehicle life, as well as your own. Ensuring that your brakes operate effectively can help to prevent an accident, keeping you and other drivers safe on the road.
Checklist For Vehicle Maintenance
It’s key to note the different types of maintenance your car requires and how often you should perform checks. While you should check some components quite regularly, others may only need to be checked on occasion.
Stay organized by keeping a vehicle maintenance scheduleand logging any maintenance performed to help you stay on track. This is especially true if you operate a business where you maintain a fleet of vehicles.
Well-maintained transportation will help you stay ahead of your competition on the road, the way fleet routing software handles the rest of the logistics on the web.
Your monthly vehicle maintenance checklist includes tasks you can do in a matter of minutes. However, non-routine maintenance items can appear out of the blue and need to be addressed immediately.
Non-routine maintenance items can include:
- “Check Engine” lights
- A dead battery
- A flat or low tire pressure
- Low or leaking fluids
- Non-working lights
If the check engine light or any other service light appears on your dashboard, you should give this immediate attention. If the light is flashing, do not continue to drive – have your vehicle serviced immediately.
Tire pressure can affect the way your car drives. Low tire pressure will also get you worse gas mileage. If it’s extremely low or flat, this could cause damage to the rim itself, leading to further repair.
Ensure all the lights on your vehicle are aligned and functioning properly. That includes your taillights, headlights, blinkers, emergency flashers, and interior lights.
If you notice any fluids leaking from beneath your car, this could signify the beginning of a more significant issue. By taking the appropriate action sooner than later, you can save money down the road.
Three Month Maintenance
In addition to monthly maintenance, you should perform routine vehicle maintenance at three-month intervals.
Changing your engine oil every 3,000 miles (or three months – whichever comes first) is an essential part of keeping your engine and all its components lubricated and running smoothly.
If much of your driving is done in extreme weather or traffic conditions, it’s a good idea to check your oil between changes and top it up if needed. Also, be sure to use the specifically recommended oil for your vehicle.
Healthy brake pads are vital to your safety, and you should check them frequently. Loud squealing can indicate that it’s time to change your brakes. Any signs of damage or extreme wear should also warrant a brake change.
Generally, you should change brake pads between 20,000 and 70,000 miles. However, this number will vary depending on the brand, material, driver, and driving conditions.
Other regular maintenance tasks to check within this timeframe include:
- Oil filter
- Power steering fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Drive belts
- Engine air filter
Six Month Maintenance
Your car’s owner’s manual will have guidelines for when your timing belt should be changed, typically between 60,000 and 90,000 miles. The timing belt and serpentine belt are the two main belts in your engine.
These belts should be checked at regular intervals before their suggested service dates to spot early signs of wear and prevent them from breaking. A broken timing belt can cause extensive damage to the engine.
You should replace belts when they begin to show any signs of wear. That includes visible signs such as cracks, frayed edges, and contaminants like oil or sand. Sounds such as screeching or knocking can also indicate an issue.
Other items that should be checked within this timeframe include:
- Wiper blades
- Tire tread and alignment
- Rotate and balance tires
As your car ages, annual maintenance is necessary regardless of its current mileage.
Tires and batteries generally last for several years before they need replacing, but it’s a good idea to inspect them each year. Tires should have at least 2/32 inches of tread, and battery connections should be clean.
Spark plugs are the keys to powering your engine properly. The timeframe in which you should change them depends on the vehicle type, spark plug type, and brand of spark plugs.
Quality spark plugs are made out of titanium or iridium and can last up to 100,000 miles, while others may need to be changed after 30,000 miles. A sudden lack of power or rough running can be signs of spark plug troubles.
Other items you should check annually include:
- Spark plugs
- Fuel filter
- Battery connections
- Cabin air filter
Weather can have a big impact on our vehicles. If you live in extreme weather conditions, you should also adjust your maintenance schedule seasonally.
Harsh winters with heavy snow, hot desert conditions, or even living near the ocean can all affect your vehicle in different ways. That means you’ll have to check on some components more regularly than others.
Seasonal maintenance items you should pay attention to include:
- Windshield wipers
- Cooling systems
- Motor oil
- Windshield fluid
Don’t Let Car Troubles Drive You Crazy
With regular maintenance, you can avoid expensive repairs down the road. No matter what kind of vehicle you own, keep it in proper running condition using this handy checklist for vehicle maintenance.
Did you find this article helpful? Be sure to check out the “Auto” section of our blog for more great tips on buying, selling, and caring for your car!