Knowing basic car maintenance and performing regular maintenance on your car can help keep lengthen its life and maximize its performance. Regular DIY maintenance can do your car some good especially if it's a vehicle that's considerably old and has been used for a lot of miles. As a car owner, conducting short-term, long-term, and seasonal checks on your vehicle are something that you should do, that is, if you want to save money and avoid future damages that can lead to serious accidents.
We have listed the items that you should check depending on the time and season. Some car parts should be checked regularly, others in the long run, and other parts seasonally. Doing this will allow you to see which parts are already worn out and need to be replaced.
Doing basic car maintenance and regular checkups on your vehicle can help make sure that it's running in really good condition. This can help make sure that you will avoid having to experience your car breaking down or suddenly overheating while driving. This can help you save money and avoid expensive repairs and replacing pricey parts.
Basic Car Maintenance Tips for All Car Owners
Before we get to the checklist, here are some tips that you can use for checking your car.
Tip #1 - Know when your recommended car maintenance services should be scheduled
This information can be found in your vehicle's owner's manual. Do your best not to skip the scheduled car maintenance service especially if you don't know how to or have no time to do it on your own. Your car dealer knows what to do and what to check to make sure your car keeps running well.
Going to the same car maintenance shop means you'll have a complete service history of your car. If you're planning to sell your car in the future, this can be an added bonus since they'll know the full-service history of your car. You can also get a good deal and a better resale price if you keep your vehicle well-maintained.
Tip #2 - Read your car's owner's manual
You can search your car's owner's manual online if you haven't read it yet. It should tell you a lot of information about your car including the correct oil and gas to use, how to diagnose problems, and how to use your car's infotainment system.
Once you have good base knowledge about your car's features and requirements, you'll be able to do some basic maintenance. After all, each car is different so it's best to know what your car needs according to your owner's manual.
Tip #3 - Learn what your car's warning lights mean
There are drivers who only know how to drive a car but can't tell what the warning lights on their dashboards mean. As a car owner, you should be able to tell what your car's warning lights mean especially when they turn on. This will help you better take care of your car especially when you address the issue right away as the warning lights turn on.
Every car manufacturer has its own warning lights on a car's dashboard. The most common warning lights include:
Traction control alert
Anti-lock brake system
Low fuel indicator
Fog lamp indicator
Washer fluid indicator
If you see any of these warnings come up, it means your car needs service or to be checked as soon as possible. Ignoring these warning lights may cause significant damage to your vehicle.
Tip #4 - Keep handy tools in your car
You'll never know when an emergency situation arises so it's always good to keep automotive tools in your car. Having the right tools can help you deal with any problems that you meet along the way. Here are the basic automotive tools that you should have with you at all times.
Tip #5 - Know your car and be nice to it
No one knows your car better than you since you're the owner. Even if you own an "old" car by today's standards, you'll be surprised by how well it still runs if you maintain it regularly. After all, you can tell so much about a person by the way he treats his car.
As an owner, you should see to it that your vehicle looks good by learning how to wash it properly. Cleaning your car's interior and making sure it's free from any foul smell can also help improve its running condition and your driving experience.
Complete Car Maintenance Checklist
It’s time to get to know your vehicle. As a car owner, knowing how to maintain and check your vehicle is like a badge of honor that should be worn with pride. This can also save you from an expensive trip to the car shop. Here’s a complete checklist of the basic maintenance and services for your car:
✅ Short Term Check-ups
☑️ Engine oil - Maintaining your car's correct oil level is important as it lubricates, cleans, cools, and protects the moving parts of your engine. As your car runs, the motor oil burns off little by little. If the oil is not checked and replaced,
☑️ Coolant level - If your car is running low on coolant, you should be very worried. Having a low coolant level can be dangerous as it often leads to overheating. It's best to check your coolant level every now and then, especially when your car's aircon is not as cool as it used to be.
☑️ Air filter - As a general rule, you should check your air filter in the cabin and in the engine every 6,000 km or 6 months whichever comes first. Air filters keep the air that comes out of your car clean. It prevents contaminants like dirt, dust, and other debris from damaging your car engine.
☑️ Tire pressure and tread depth - Your tires wear over time. Maintaining your tires correct air pressure helps increase its rolling resistance. If you let your tires be low on air, your tread could easily and excessively wear out. It's best to check your car's tire pressure every two to four weeks or before going on a long car ride.
☑️ Headlights, turn signals, brake, and parking lights - It's fairly easy to check if your headlights, turn signals, brake, and parking lights are working. Check them once a month to see if they're working properly. Inspect your turn signals and parking lights as well as your brakes.
☑️ Rotate tires - As a rule of thumb, it's best to rotate your tires every 6 months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles. This can help extend the service life of your tires by evenly balancing the tread wear. This can also help prevent noise and vibration problems.
☑️ Deep clean & wax vehicle - To maintain your car's aesthetic upkeep, it's best to have it washed at least every week or when needed. Have it deep cleaned especially if you have children, pets, or if you went on the beach. Waxing your car every six months can also do some good. It keeps your paint in good shape and keeps rust from forming.
✅ Long Term Check-ups
☑️ Transmission fluid - It's best to check your transmission fluid once a month or perhaps after you fuel up at the gas station. Low transmission fluid means there is a leak somewhere in the system and it's best to catch it before it leads to a bigger damage. After all, it's the liquid that lubricates your car's parts and provides hydraulic pressure and friction to make the internal parts of your vehicle work.
☑️ Transfer case fluid - If you have difficulty shifting gears, chances are your transfer case fluid is either low or dirty. This part of your engine provides lubrication and cooling to the internal parts of your vehicle.
☑️ Shocks and struts - Shocks and struts need to be replaced as they wear out. They help stabilize your car's movement so you are in control of your vehicle when you turn, brake, accelerate or when you encounter rough and uneven surfaces. Failure to do so can cause your car to bounce or vibrate which may compromise your control of the vehicle.
☑️ Spark plugs - The spark plugs are the reason why your car starts. Bad spark plugs can lead to problems that can negatively affect your car engine's performance. If you're experiencing rough idling, uneven power when accelerating or an increase in exhaust emissions, it means your car has misfiring spark plugs.
☑️ Serpentine belt - Check your serpentine belt once in a while to make sure it's not broken. This can lead to serious damage to your engine if neglected. The serpentine belt is the long rubber belt along your car's engine. It provides power to a lot of important parts in your vehicle such as the alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning, and more.
☑️ Front and/or rear differential - It's best to check your front and rear differential as they allow the outer drive wheel to rotate faster than the inner drive wheel during a turn. This is important because as your car turns, the wheel that travels around the outside of the turning curve roll farther and faster than the other wheel.
✅ Seasonal Check-ups
☑️ Winshield wipers - Extreme temperatures and heavy snow and rain can wear down your windshied wipers easily. It's best to check them twice a year to see if they need to be replaced. If not checked, the wipers will be ineffective and may even damage your windshield if the bare metal or plastic wiper arm scrapes across the glass.
☑️ Battery performance check - The worst thing that can happen if you don't check your battery as the season changes is to be stranded in a place with no help. Have them checked and tested at least twice a year. You can also find this information in your owner's manual.
☑️ Change tires - In general, tires should be replaced every 6 to 10 years, regardless of treadwear. This will help improve your vehicle's performance so that it's easier to control.
Congratulations! You made it! Now that you know the basic car maintenance tips and services checklist, it’s time to put it into action. Pop the hood up and check your car’s engine to see what needs fixing.
If it’s too overwhelming for you, no worries! There are fleet management services available and the best car repair shops are there to help you. Just schedule a call and book an appointment to have your car checked as soon as possible.