Car Maintenance Checklist for Optimum Performance
To maximize the performance and life of your car, here is a list of items you should check, depending on the season and time. Some of the parts of the vehicle should be checked regularly, and others only in the long term. Make sure to follow your vehicle maintenance schedule and service interval record.
To make it easy to keep track of your car maintenance schedule, we’ve created a useful vehicle maintenance checklist.
Basic Car Maintenance Checklist
Regular car maintenance checklist includes the following:
1. Oil and Oil Filter
Engine oil and oil filter have to be changed regularly since as a motor runs, small metal bits and carbon end up in the oil and can make excessive wear on the engine. The non-synthetic oil that was used in the past had a 3k mile rule of thumb, but most vehicles today drive on synthetic, which can last between 5,000 and 10,000 miles, according to the type.
2. Tire pressure/depth
Well-maintained tires are the fundamental element for a safe, fuel-efficient ride, so make it a habit to check the tires often visually. Inspect the pressure in the tires every month and before road trips or carrying extra load. And don’t forget the spare.
A tire pressure gauge will be required to check tire pressure. During the colder months, tire pressure drops one pound with every 10 degrees decrease in pressure. Your owner’s manual will show you how much air pressure a tire needs. You can view your tread depth by applying the penny technique.
3. Rotate tires
According to your car alignment, usage, and many other aspects, the tread wear patterns on the tires may differ between the front and back tires, or from one side of the tread to the other. Tires’ rotating will extend the life of the tires by more evenly balancing the tread wear, and prevent vibration and noise issues.
4. Windshield wipers
Windshield wipers have to be replaced once every year, or whenever the efficiency is undermined. In cold months, it could also be a great idea to use winter blades for optimal performance. Additionally, it would be best if you pulled the wipers away from the window when parked during the winter to avoid ice buildup.
5. Battery check
A car battery is one of the most crucial parts of your vehicle to run. It supplies large amounts of electrical current for the starter, engine, and other electronic components in the car. Extreme temperatures affect the battery performance, so regular battery testing will ensure when you need it to service.
6. Wax car
Waxing the vehicle every six months after washing it won’t only keep it glossy, it’ll also keep both the paint in good condition and minimize the chance of rust. Many elements, including salt, dust, and sand, can build up, and environmental factors such as UV light and ozone can cause microscopic damage, but waxing can reduce this by creating a protective seal that prologs your paint’s life.
First Major Service
As you drive a vehicle, it ages and needs maintenance. Soon it requires its first oil change, then its first auto maintenance service, and then its first major service at the 30k miles. At 30,000 miles, your ride still feels new, but by this moment, the owner’s manual clearly indicates that a 30,000-mile service is mandatory.
7. Air filter
A choked air filter makes it harder for a motor to work, and that can affect the engine performance. 15k to 30k miles is a good rule, and if you drive or park in a dusty environment, change the air filter before 15,000 miles.
8. Fuel filter
If the fuel filter gets clogged, the motor will run dry, or not at all. Manufacturer suggestions on these filters vary widely, but some recommend replacing fuel filters as early as 30k miles. The best option is that your mechanic conducts a pressure test to inspect the health of the filter.
60 000 Mile Service (Second Major)
There are certain things that must be serviced or changed in order for your car to continue having a long and healthy life. If you don’t take care of your vehicle’s 60000-mile service, don’t be surprised if you find yourself with an inoperable ride.
Your owner’s manual will list what must be inspected, changed, or replaced on your car, but here is the standard checklist for a second major service:
9. Transmission fluid
Low transmission-fluid levels may cause shifting issues and can burn up the gear. It’s important to check transmission fluid regularly. The healthy fluid will be pink and smell sweet, while improper transmission fluid will be darker red or brown, and smell burnt. Many vehicles will keep a transmission-fluid dipstick toward the back of the windshield side. Still, certain cars don’t have a dipstick for gear fluid at all, and contaminated or low fluid will instead signal a warning light on the dashboard.
If you drive a manual transmission vehicle, change the transmission fluid between 30k and 60k miles. Therefore, a vehicle under heavy strain should have its manual transmission fluid changed at more frequent intervals. While automatic transmission fluid has a lifespan ranging from 30,000 to over 100,000 miles.
10. Brake fluid
Brakes are activated by a hydraulic system. But when the fluid in that mechanism is mixed with water, its boiling point is dropped, and it leads to a soft brake pedal. To be sure that your brakes work properly, bleed the brakes, and replace them with new brake fluid according to your car’s manual. Its recommended to do it every 20,000 to 40,000 miles.
11. Brake rotors
Brakes work by squeezing the pads versus metal discs (rotors) to slow the car. They get subjected to lots of heat thanks to the friction between rotors and the brake pads, and discs can warp during the time. You can either replace them or have their surface ground down, so they’re smooth again at 60,000 miles. Re-surfacing the rotors is the less-expensive solution, but can be done only once by set.
12. Brake pads and shoes
Brake pads and shoes are made to wear out, and typically make screeching noises when they have to be replaced. Check them regularly. A proper set can last up to 50,000 miles.
Third Major Service
For most vehicles made by top-rated manufacturers, the 90k mile service is the third major service. These regularly scheduled services help maintain your car and protect your investment in the long term.
Third major service will include the following:
A mix of antifreeze and water flows through the radiator to cool the vehicle. If you lose too much coolant, the motor will overheat, which can make severe damage. Therefore, replace coolant at 60k miles, and ensure a mechanic flushes the entire cooling system during replacement of coolant.
The hoses on your ride carry coolant, and, in case you have it, power steering fluid. As the rubber ages, cracks can occur, and a busted hose will cause car overheating, so have them checked and changed as needed, especially as your car approaches 6-number mileage.
15. Spark plugs/ignition system
When parts of the ignition system fail, you may see a “check engine” light on the dash, rough running, or hard starting. However, a mechanic will be able to plug a laptop into your vehicle to look for a “code” that will show what needs to be replaced.
The timing depends on the kind of spark plugs you have in the car. Most new vehicles use titanium or iridium spark plugs, which can last up to 100,000 miles, let alone 90,000. But, less expensive spark plugs, made from copper, are still in use and have to be replaced by 30k miles.
16. Timing belt
Cars that have a timing belt rather than a timing chain need to have this type of maintenance. Its recommended changing the belt preventively between 70,000 and 90,000 miles, as a belt failure can lead to serious damage. If your vehicle uses a timing chain, you should ask your mechanic to check it, since the chain links can stretch, but it should last enough.
17. Power steering fluid
Low power steering fluid might cause hard steering or excessive noise while turning the wheel. Flush and replace a power steering fluid around 70,000 miles, or when it occurs.
Best Car Maintenance Tips
Here are 7 easy car servicing tips for a long-running vehicle you can rely on.
1. Keep vehicle covered
Keeping your vehicle out of the reach of the sunlight, birds, and trees can help your exterior and interior remain in good condition. UV radiation, weather, and nature can take its toll on your car. If you have a garage or carport cover, this can help tremendously. So, cover your ride when not in use and try to keep it in the garage whenever you can.
The way your driving reflects on the condition of your car. If you are hard on your car (quick take off, fast braking, sharp turns, driving over bumps at high speeds, tough shifting, etc.), then your vehicle will wear faster, and damage can happen. By riding safely and smartly, you not only ensure less wear and tear on your ride but also can save on the fuel costs.
Driving below the speed limit and without sudden stops will help you remain safer, save money, and help your machine last longer.
3. Exterior engine cleaning
As we learned the importance of maintaining your engine internally – it’s as important to do it for the exterior also. Some tiny debris in the wrong place can do a lot of damage if not cleaned. For instance, when checking brake fluid and some grease falls into the brake fluid. It can lead to brake system damage.
There are engine cleaners available on the market designed specifically for exterior engine cleaning. It can be useful for – discovering leaks, protecting rubber/plastic hoses, ensuring electrical connections aren’t interrupted, seeing labels clearly, for the pride of ownership.
4. Always carry the car tool kit
A good tip for maintaining your car on the go is to carry some basic tools, so you’ll be ready to face different problems and have tools to work with. For example, delaying fixing a leak can potentially cause damage to your engine of other car systems. Tools that might be helpful are heat resistant, waterproof silicone tape, thick gloves, electrical tape, wire cutters, screwdrivers, grove pliers, a knife, and a flashlight. A toolbox might come in handy.
5. Protect the headlights
Keep an eye on the headlights as they’re your best friends while driving at night. It can be quite dangerous if you drive without your headlights on at night. Replace or repair them before riding at night. It should only take 15 minutes to replace a headlight bulb.
6. Auto detailing
Having a clean and nice-looking vehicle will feel more comfortable. You will feel better and have pride of ownership. Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore, either. For many, it’s about keeping up a schedule of doing a little at a time. The best way to maintain the interior is to do a quick cleaning of any trash each time you exit the vehicle and then schedule in a date and time to vacuum and doing other cleaning required.
7. Cleaning car wheels
Car wheels often made up of magnesium or aluminum alloy, are what serve to hold the tire. On some cars, a plastic wheel cover or hubcap is affixed to the wheel itself. Both require cleaning to keep up appearances. And your car’s wheels take some of the heaviest abuse on your ride, generally needing much more care than is provided. That’s the reason many relatively new cars have dull, dusty wheels. If you invest a little money and time maintaining your car’s wheels, then they’ll have that new-car appearance.