How to extend your car’s lifespan and drive it with confidence? The answer is simple: maintenance. So welcome to our latest post on basic car maintenance tips and checklist.
Some drivers only take their cars to the garage when they encounter problems. However, like any engineering system, automobiles require regular checkups.
In this post, we’ve compiled a checklist of basic car maintenance tasks to help you keep your car in good shape. So, buckle up and follow this car maintenance list!
Basic Car Maintenance Tips And Checklist
Your car contains numerous components, and they have a different lifespan. Hence, we divide the checkup tasks into different intervals so you can tell which parts need more frequent attention and which can work with you longer.
These parts don’t need a checkup before they break down. In such a case, you need to repair and replace them immediately. So try basic car tips as follows:
The “Check engine light” signals that your car’s ECU (Electronic Control Unit) malfunctions. If it can’t turn off, check your car soon. And if it keeps flashing, you need to visit the garage immediately.
Tire pressure can drop, and the engine light will be on. In this case, the tire pressure monitoring mechanism in some car models is helpful. Yet, you still should check it manually.
Car manufacturers claim the recommended PSI for the tires. For example, the correct tire pressure for Lexus RX 350 is 30 to 33 PSI, depending on the model. Your job now is to follow the guidelines and ensure to inflate the four tires properly before every drive.
Headlights and Tail Lights
These lights may blow out because of the blown fuse. If not, replace them soon. Driving with faulty lights is dangerous, and the traffic police can send you a ticket.
Wiper blades help you observe the road. Yet, they may break down or wear out over time. Luckily, replacing them is cheap.
Your car’s oil, coolant, and windshield fluid requires monthly maintenance. Here is the monthly car maintenance checklist:
Oil And Coolant Level
Check the oil and coolant level whenever you fill it up using a dipstick. If it’s too low, add more. It would be best to keep some oil in your trunk so you won’t have to worry about low oil levels.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
Check the fluid level every month and add more if needed. Besides, the fluid may get dirty because of dirt and debris over time. In this case, remember to drain the old, dirty fluid before adding the new one.
Like coolant, windshield wiper fluid often requires diluted water. You should follow the instructions on the bottle to use it correctly.
Tires can have uneven wear. Hence, you need to check the tire tread depth every month. There is an interesting yet accurate method for this test. Do this by inserting a penny into the tread. If it can reach the top of Lincoln’s head, there won’t be anything to worry about the tread depth.
After driving for three months, include these parts in your car basic maintenance plan:
We have talked about checking the oil level every month. After every three months, you should perform an oil change.
Changing the engine oil routinely is essential for keeping your car’s engine in good working condition. You can do it yourself or ask a mechanic to perform this task.
If you prefer changing the oil on your own, remember to learn how to drain the oil, set the proper oil level, and get rid of the old oil.
Choosing the correct engine oil for your vehicle is essential. There are three things to consider before buying the oil:
- Oil viscosity
- Synthetic vs. non-synthetic oil
- Car’s mileage
When you change the oil, consider replacing the oil filter, too. It’s in charge of protecting your engine from contaminants. As a result, dirt accumulation may clog it, affecting its performance.
Hoses And Belts
Check for cracks, holes, and any signs of damage on the hoses and belts. An interval of three months is enough to get new components.
Battery And Its Cables
Check the battery to ensure the cables are still good and secure. You need to pull out the protective rubber housing to access the wiring. The cables may erode, too, requiring a replacement.
Remember to check the alternator as well. If it goes bad, your battery will be damaged.
Half of the year has passed by. It’s time to re-check certain car parts to prevent potential issues. The car service basics you should perform every six months are:
Rotating tires can help lengthen their lifespan and prevent vibration issues. However, you must check the owner’s manual carefully because this treatment is not suitable for all tire models.
Washing your car regularly is necessary, especially when traveling across muddy and dirty places. Waxing is also vital to protect your vehicle’s finish against rust, and you should do it twice a year.
Some drivers only care for the exhaust system when they notice the damage. Yet, prevention is better than cure. As a result, check it every six months to avoid issues in the exhaust, such as water coming out of it.
Battery Performance Test
Even when the cables work well, your car may have problems because of the battery itself. When the battery turns three years old, you should test its performance every six months.
Your automobile’s chassis, suspension, and steering systems simply require lubrication to work effectively. So check them twice a year and give them what they need.
It’s time to change your car’s coolant, air filter, brake system, shocks, and struts.
Use the proper coolant for your car, and ensure the coolant level is always near the maximum mark. If you choose premixed coolant, you just need to pour it into the reservoir directly. But if you use the concentrated one, mix it with distilled water in a 1:1 ratio first.
Your car has two air filters, one for the cabin and one for the engine. While you should replace the cabin filter every year, do that with the engine filter every time you change the oil.
The brake system has multiple components, such as brake fluid, brake pads, rotors, and linings. Their lifespan depends on your driving style. But generally, you should check, repair, and replace them every year.
Shocks And Struts
If you notice that your car doesn’t run smoothly recently, it can be the shocks or struts to blame for. Since they are important for the steering system, have a professional check it once a year so they can work well.
Here are some checkups you should carry out every two years:
If you have high-quality coils, plug wires, and spark plugs, they can last for 100,000 miles. However, checking the spark plugs every 30,000 miles is necessary because they will cause rough running when failed.
Manual transmission fluids can last for every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Meanwhile, automatic transmission fluid can last longer, between 30,000 and 100,000 miles.
The fuel filter gets stuck with dirt, grime, and debris over time. We recommend replacing it every 30,000 miles.
Some car components can last for many years. For example:
We have to perform many checkups with the tires, but they only need a replacement after six to ten years.
The battery is essential, so you must test it regularly. However, it’s only necessary to replace it every five years.
Differentials are mechanisms that distribute power to the wheels to move the automobile. A qualified mechanic can help you inspect the differentials by following manufacturer instructions and lubricating them as needed.
Signs Your Car Needs Maintenance Done
Even the best-maintained cars can develop issues that call for unplanned repair work. Frequently, your car can let you know that there’s a problem before it breaks down. Here are some signs to check for:
- Braking: Brake system issues can lead to danger. Check it immediately if you notice a squeaking sound or the brake pedal turns soft.
- Vibration: Ask a mechanic to examine your car if you feel vibration when turning, starting, or stopping.
- Fuel efficiency: The gas mileage issue may result from leaked fuel injectors or bad sensors. Both cases demand a checkup.
- Shifting: Automatic transmission should shift gears quickly. So, hard gear shifts refer to a transmission issue.
We hope you find our basic maintenance tips and checklist helpful. As you can see, your car requires regular checkups. But it’s an excellent way to prevent breakdowns and costly repairs in the future.
As a responsible car owner, you must keep your vehicle in good condition. Yet, it’s for you, too. Only with a good car can you have safe driving.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a calendar and write down what you need to do for months to come. Your car will appreciate it!
Thank you for reading!