If you’re anything like me, you are relying heavily on that little sticker at the top corner of your windshield to tell you when you are due for an oil change, but what other routine maintenance requirements are we forgetting?
The best place to start for information on routine maintenance is your car’s manual. Your manual should have a chart that tells you how often your car needs to be serviced, and what work needs to be done. This manual was written by the manufacturers at the factory where your car was built, and who better to give advice on how to take care of your vehicle.
Here are some other routine maintenance objectives to get on your calendar:
Some states require yearly inspections for all cars. These inspections evaluate only essential safety criteria rather than a full mechanical checkup.
Engine Oil Changes
If you take your car in for regular oil changes, the dealership will usually include a multi-point inspection and tire rotation as well. These scheduled maintenance check-ups will typically include attention to the following: brake fluid, power steering system, coolant levels, brake pads, windshield wipers, and engine oil. Air filters should be inspected during oil changes, though most manufacturers recommend an air filter replacement every 12 months.
Your car may require an oil change anywhere from every 3,000 to 10,000 miles depending on what type of oil it takes. Refer to your owner's manual for suggestions on how frequently you will need an oil change.
Typically, tires will last anywhere from 6-10 years on the average car. Knowing this will allow you to budget ahead of time for the significant cost associated with tire replacement. Ask your service tech to check the tire tread at your next oil change.
A rule of thumb is to test your battery beginning at the three-year mark, and definitely replace it at the five-year mark if it doesn’t need to be replaced before that.
Manufacturer Maintenance Requirements
Along with recommendations on oil changes and tire rotations, manufacturers recommend scheduled maintenance at certain mileage milestones. Check your manual!
Performing maintenance at regular, recommended intervals will keep your car in top shape and also help prevent costly repairs down the road. Keeping detailed service records will also help boost your trade-in value when you are ready for a new car. Of course, if your check engine light comes on, your headlight or taillight is out, or your tire pressure is low, you will need to schedule service immediately!
Hopefully, these tips and recommendations will help ease some of the questions you might have about how to best take care of your car now in order to prevent surprise maintenance down the road.