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Car Maintenance Checklist: 6 Things to Know

Woman giving the thumbs up from her car window because she followed Toco Warranty's car maintenance checklist.

Here are some of the basics to regular car maintenance so you can know when to perform a check-up or get your vehicle serviced.

Many drivers are unaware that their vehicle may need a little maintenance every now and then to continue running. Some maintenance you can do yourself, while you might need to get some other services done by professionals. 

Where to find information

The best source to learn about your vehicle’s recommended maintenance intervals and practices is in your owner’s manual. The car maker should detail when you need to do routine maintenance. Because the manual was written by experts, it is your best source to learn about your vehicle. 

Car Maintenance Checklist

Keep Your Car Clean

Car maintenance starts with something very simple: cleanliness. You might be used to cleaning your car for the aesthetics, but did you know that grime and salt from the road can also get stuck on the underside of your car and cause damage over time? Wash your car on a regular basis to help prevent this from happening.

Change Your Oil

In an April 2013 study, the Car Care Council found that, 22 percent of cars have dirty or low engine oil, and 20 percent have inadequate cooling protection [1]. Fortunately, changing the engine oil and adding coolant are some of the easier maintenance routines to perform or are inexpensive to get done at a service station. Next, there’s a reason people say they want a “well-oiled machine.” Change your car’s oil as often as recommended by the manufacturer- usually every 4,000 to 5,000 miles.

Check Other Fluids

But don’t stop there. You should also take a look at the levels of the other car fluids, including brake, transmission, power steering and transaxle fluids. When it comes to brake fluids, the system should be flushed every 30,000 miles.

Battery Terminals and Tires

Once you’re done checking those, head to the battery terminals and make sure they’re clean. If not, it can be harder for electrical currents to pass through your car’s system. Each month, you should also ensure your tire pressure is at the recommended level for your car.

Wheel Bearings and Engine Belts

Now, you’re almost done with these recommended car maintenance checks. Take a look at your wheel bearings and engine belts. The bearings should be cleaned and repacked on a regular basis, and the belts should simply be inspected to ensure they’re in good shape. After checking that off your list, lubricate the moving parts in your ride, such as ball joints and u-joints. Lack of grease in these areas can cause damage.

Coolant

Last but not least, your car’s coolant should be replaced and the whole system should be flushed out once a year.

Scheduling a Visit

If you know what maintenance needs to be done and what the mile intervals are, you should look around for the best prices to get your car serviced. While you might be able to perform some maintenance yourself, you should bring your car to professionals if you are unsure. Preparing ahead of time by knowing when you will need to perform routine maintenance and how much it will cost can help you budget for these expenses better and not be caught off guard by the amount.

Getting Coverage

While you should perform maintenance tasks regularly to keep your car functioning properly and performing to its best ability, you should also be sure to get adequate insurance coverage. Most states require at least a minimum level of liability insurance, but you should check out policies that fit your budget and will help you in the case of an accident. Additionally, you should invest in a vehicle service contract to help you cover the cost of certain covered repairs if your car breaks down. As your vehicle ages, the need for repairs can increase. If you don’t have coverage, you could be faced with potentially steep expenses if your vehicle breaks down.

1.Three Out of Four Cars Need Service, Carcare.org

The Car Care Council is not affiliated with Toco Warranty Corp. and has not endorsed Toco Warranty products and services.

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