Car Maintenance Checklist: Helping You Keep Your Car Running Right

car maintenance checklist

Do you know how many cars the average American will own in their lifetime?

Before the latest recession, the average was a new car every 3-4 years (or 13 cars in a lifetime). In recent years, that number has dropped to 9 cars.

What’s made the difference? Amongst other factors, new cars are lasting longer–and owners are taking better care of them.

There’s no doubt that regular car maintenance can extend the life of your car. If you’re looking for the best vehicle maintenance tips, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on for our ultimate car maintenance checklist.

Short-Term Checklist

To keep your vehicle in tip-top shape, it’s important to do a series of regular checkups.

Once a month, get into a habit of checking:

  • Oil levels
  • Coolant levels
  • Cleanliness of air filter
  • Tire pressure
  • Tread depth
  • All lights and turn signals

You can easily top up fluid levels yourself. If you notice any leaks (or they seem to be draining faster than usual), be sure to schedule a checkup with a mechanic.

Every 3,000-5,000 miles, you should also take your vehicle in for an oil and filter change. The mechanics should perform a thorough inspection of everything listed above, but be sure to mention any problems you’ve noticed.

Depending on your vehicle’s alignment and how much you drive it, you should also regularly rotate your tires so they wear evenly.

Long-Term Checklist

In addition to these short-term checkups, there are parts of your vehicle that need attention less frequently–maybe once every year or two.

Items on your long-term car maintenance checklist should include:

  • Transmission fluid
  • Transfer case fluid
  • Coolant fluid exchange
  • Spark plugs
  • Shocks, struts, and suspension
  • Serpentine belt (and other belts)

To keep your car in prime condition, it’s vital to change out these fluids and get regular tune-ups. If you notice your car losing power, running rough, or otherwise acting strangely, don’t ignore it.

It’s better to take it in and address the problem now rather than letting it develop into something more serious (and costly) down the road.

Seasonal Checklist

Depending on the climate where you live and how many miles you put on your car, there are a few other items you may want to add to your checklist.

If you live somewhere with snowy or icy winters, you may want to change out your summer tires for winter tires. It’s also a good idea to change your windshield wipers seasonally.

Nothing wears a battery down like extreme temperature changes. If there’s a big variation between summer and winter temperatures where you live, test the performance of your battery before each season change.

Make sure your coolant and antifreeze levels are where they should be every season. You may also need to use specially formulated washer fluid in the winter months if it gets below freezing.

Car Maintenance Checklist: Final Thoughts

By regularly ticking off boxes on your car maintenance checklist, you’ll keep your car running well for years to come.

The average mid-sized sedan costs $8,839 a year to own and operate. Of course, there are many tasks that require the skills of an experienced auto mechanic.

But there are other routine checks and changes you can do yourself to save your hard-earned money. Click here to learn about the easiest DIY car maintenance tasks.

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